Happy Birthday to Mewtwo, the Pokemon Who's Basically Just a Dude
Maybe that's why catching Mewtwo always felt so weird.
February 6th is Mewtwo's birthday, and he's got a lot on his mind.
In Pokemon Red & Blue, trainers exploring the spooky, burned-down Pokemon Mansion on Cinnabar Island may stumble across a series of journal entries written by a Pokemon researcher. These document the creation and escape of Mewtwo who, as it turns out, was created in a lab through the manipulation of a pregnant Mew's embryo, gene-splicing experiments, and brutal tests. This resulted in Mewtwo being extremely intelligent, overwhelmingly powerful, and mentally unhinged due to the trauma he suffered at the hands of the humans who created him. That probably makes birthdays pretty rough.
Unlike other Pokemon who are physiologically limited to shouting their own name ad nauseum (with the exception of Meowth, of course), Mewtwo is pretty much a full-fledged dude, forced to cope with the mental burden of his existence and identity just as people do. He might be a Pokemon that looks like an anthropomorphic cat, but he's just as psychologically complex as any human.
After all, what experience could possibly be more human than spending your birthday feeling vaguely pissed off that your parents sentenced you to a life you didn't ask for? If any other Pokemon has actively grappled with the futility of their own existence, they certainly don't have the language capacity to convey that.
Maybe that's why catching Mewtwo always felt so weird. He's not really a Pokemon. He's more like a guy, and it's hard to believe he'd ever just hang out in a Pokeball (or, more likely, a Masterball). Realistically, if someone actually did catch Mewtwo, it would probably play out more like Mewtwo going, "Sure, you seem pretty cool, I'll hang out with you." Then Mewtwo and his "trainer" would go grab some Pokebeers so Mewtwo could complain about his sh*tty life.
Throughout the entire Pokemon franchise, Mewtwo still holds up as the most interesting "villain." The first (and best) Pokemon movie, Pokemon the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (or Pokemon: The First Movie for stupid American audiences), follows Mewtwo's attempts to destroy the world's best Pokemon trainers in order to prove himself as a superior being.
In this version, Mewtwo's origin is altered slightly––instead of having been created from a genetically-altered Mew embryo, he's been cloned directly from a Mew fossil––but the rest remains roughly the same. Humans created Mewtwo in a lab through genetic engineering with the intention of owning the world's most powerful weapon. But Mewtwo doesn't want to view himself as a weapon. He wants to view himself as his own being. That being said, the only way he's ever known to assign value to anything is through force, so by physically dominating human trainers (and eventually the original Mew, as well), Mewtwo believes that he can validate his own existence.
Ultimately though, Mewtwo realizes that a person's (or Pokemon's) value shouldn't be determined by the circumstances of their birth, but rather by the choices they make in life. It's a surprisingly complex character arc for a Pokemon movie, and it's the main reason that every subsequent Pokemon movie that just showcased the newest Legendary Pokemon failed to live up to the original––or in this case, the clone.
Speaking of clones, a computer animated remake of Mewtwo Strikes Back, aptly dubbed Mewtwo Strikes Back: EVOLUTION, is coming to Netflix on February 27th (which is also Pokemon Day). It looks pretty cool.
It's nice to see Mewtwo continuing to get recognition, even eight generations into the franchise. There's a reason he'll always be the best Legendary Pokemon––because he's pretty much just a dude.
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