The very first movie in the Pokémon series of films. Because it certainly wasn't going to be the last, so why mince words?A team of scientists creates Mewtwo, a superior clone of legendary Pokémon Mew. Angry at having been created to serve and be used by humans, he decides he's GottaKill 'em All.It should be noted that this Pokémon movie is one of the few that has real plot significance to the series,note If one counts the Pokémon 2000 reference in the Whirl Islands Lugia arc, Drew's Hometown being the main setting of Movie 7 and having its plot mentioned in a 2-part episode, Ash's Aura from movie 8, which comes up a few times in DP or Dawn possessing the Cresselia Feather that she got in Movie 10 during the Darkrai arc as having real plot significance. having plot elements set up throughout the first season of the show. Furthermore there is a made-for-television sequel called Pokemon Mewtwo Returns that continues the plotline and themes.The film came packaged with a short called Pikachu's Vacation, which featured the Pokémon enjoying themselves in a holiday resort without the presence of any human characters, the only actual dialogue coming from Meowth and the Pokédex narrator.
Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Inverted. It was rated G despite its strong violence and its disturbing themes and images. (However, it was rated PG in Canada, where standards are actually more lax in general.)
Bowdlerize: The intro was severely shortened to remove references to death and human cloning. Also a case of Executive Meddling, as the original part of the intro dealing with baby Mewtwo and Amber was actually completely dubbed by 4Kids at the time of producing the American version of the movie, but was forced to be cut out by Kids' WB. It was later put as an extra in the Mewtwo Returns DVD.
This creates an odd moment at the end of the movie. While the American version goes with the "fighting is wrong" Aesop, they forgot to change Mewtwo's dialogue, so the moment where he learns his lesson, he states that it doesn't matter how you're born, but how you live your life that matters. If they were willing to keep that line of dialogue in, why not just keep the original Aesop altogether?
With the events of The Birth of Mewtwo taken into consideration, Mewtwo wasn't born evil. It's indicated that the reason he became so vicious and unpredictable was because the drugs the scientists injected into him while he was still developing inside the cloning tube, in order to erase his memories of Amber (fearing that the psychological trauma of her death would kill him), permanently warped his brain and broke his mind.
Miranda's tale of "the legend of winds" was added to the dub to provide an explanation for why Pokémon tears had the power to bring people back from the dead. In the original, she just didn't want anyone's lives to be endangered by the storm. This explanation was also mentioned by Amber in "The Birth of Mewtwo" dub, when she was dying and young Mewtwo began to cry, which was all cut from the film.
Broken Aesop: the movie's end moral in the English version was changed from "All Life Is Equal" to "Fighting Is Wrong"...in a series whose entire profit comes from glorified dog fighting.
Though one could argue that the real aesop was about pointlessly fighting to the death is wrong, which is actually true when you think about it.
Not only that, but the original "All Life Is Equal" Aesop still remains in the English Dub, because Mewtwo realizes that no matter how you're born, the life you live determines who you are and no person (or Pokémon) is more worthy of life than the next just because of how they were born.
It's unlikely that the translators wouldn't have caught the irony if they'd simply been going for all fighting being wrong. Normal Pokémon battling, which was not Mewtwo's intention or work, is usually for friendly competition. It's like boxing or martial arts tournaments (friendly competition, but people can still get hurt) vs. street fighting (usually contains malicious intent).
Cheaters Never Prosper: The pirate trainer releases three Pokémon at the same time in a one-on-one battle. Pikachu wastes all three at once (despite one of them being a Golem, which being a Ground-type Pokémon should be immune to electricity).
Childhood Brain Damage: Possibly the reason Mewtwo is rather "unhinged." He was not allowed to come to terms with Ambertwo's passing away naturally. The scientists desperate to control him inject a lot of sedatives and memory-wiping serum to calm him down. Disturbingly, Mewtwo spends the rest of the Japanese original film giggling.
Conspicuous CG: Several examples, but the most conspicuous is the huge door to Mewtwo's arena. The original Japanese theatrical cut was almost wholly hand-drawn; the CG was added to the Japanese video release and that cut is the one that was adapted internationally.
Crucified Hero Shot: When Ash gets hit by the oncoming blasts of both sides of the Mew and Mewtwo fight, his arms stretch out to his sides before he collapses and dies.
Cultural Translation: Songs by American pop bands were inserted into the dub, and the orchestral score was entirely changed.
"We also rescored the entire movie with all new music that would better reflect what American kids would respond to." — Norman Grossfeld
Curb-Stomp Battle: Mewtwo's first three clones (of the three Kanto starters' fully evolved forms) easily beat the real starters (Ash's Charizard lasts the longest, but then, he only lasts about a minute as opposed to 10 seconds like the others).
Footage is shown of gym leader Giovanni using armored!Mewtwo against several trainers in the anime, including Gary Oak.
Cut-and-Paste Translation: The English dub, especially when compared to later movies and the regular series. Even the dubber's DVD commentary has them admitting to having trouble during translation. There is quite a Broken Base as to how this affects the film's enjoyability.
Ironically, Ash's Squirtle and Bulbasaur were doing perfectly fine resisting capture on their own and presumably only got captured because they were returned to their Poké Balls.
Darker and Edgier: Than the TV show. Human characters die and Pokémon are cloned and forced to fight to the death.
The Japanese version takes this a step further with its complex existentialist themes, in a similar vein to the Pokémon Black and White video games with its moral themes.
Taken further Up to Eleven in the Japanese CD dramas, in which one scene involves Giovanni stealing a defeated trainer's Pokémon, then ordering Mewtwo to attack the trainer. Said trainer lampshades the cruelty.
The "Mewtwo's Origin" prologue is this in spades, as it deals with Mewtwo's tragic childhood. He has to deal with his only friends in the world "disappearing" before his eyes (in real life, they're dying). This is actually a condensed adaptation of the above CD dramas.
Deus ex Machina: Ash brought back to normal by Pokémon tears after being turned into stone in the original version. At least the dub gave it a set-up early on, but it implied Ash died instead.
Disney Death: Ash gets caught in the crossfire trying to stop the fighting, is killed, and is turned to stone. However, Pikachu, and all the other Pokémon (save Mew and Mewtwo) begin crying over his death and their tears of sorrow bring Ash back to life.
Surprisingly, in the Japanese version, he's only turned to stone; it isn't specified whether he actually dies or not.
Disproportionate Retribution: Though Mewtwo's early life wasn't what you would call pleasant, wanting to destroy everyone on the planet because of it, even though they never knew of his existence, let alone have a desire to deliberately want to hurt him, is not something a sane individual would do.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Thanks to his own bad experiences, Mewtwo flat out refuses to believe people and Pokémon could ever stand as equals and be friends. Anyone who says otherwise usually angers him more. After Ash's sacrifice he finally reaches an epiphany.
Freak Out/Go Mad from the Revelation: When told in the beginning of the movie that he is nothing more than a science experiment and/or a tool for the humans who created him, Mewtwo doesn't take the news very well.
Gone Horribly Right: The page quote is a scientist's last words as Mewtwo destroys his lab. It's even the page quote for this trope.
Gratuitous English: The pirate trainer who challenges Satoshi (Ash) in the Japanese version speaks with this mixed into his Japanese, complete with a hilarious "Oh my God!" when he loses.
Rather appropriate considering the voice actor was an American singer named Raymond Johnson, who usually does Gratuitous English in the Pokémon songs he did later.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Mewtwo's belief. Justified in that he had only really dealt with a few humans: the scientists who made him, and Giovanni. He might not have even thought so about the scientists if he'd had more perspective on them and not started destroying everything a minute after birth.note Notably, the main scientist was only into cloning so that he could find some way to bring his daughter Amber back from the dead. Before all the problems and destruction, Mewtwo had communicated with the attempted Amber clone telepathically, but she wasn't strong enough to survive the cloning process like Mewtwo was. Mewtwo certainly didn't have a problem with her. Unfortunately, thanks to a serum the scientists injected into him when he was distraught over her death, he can't even remember her.
I Lied: Giovanni's response to Mewtwo when the latter confronts the former's early declaration that they were equal partners. Not surprisingly, Mewtwo is royally pissed at the betrayal and decides to blow the joint - figuratively and literally. Unfortunately, Giovanni turns out luckier than the scientists, and survives.
Inconsistent Dub: When the scientists manage to calm down Mewtwo before he awakes in the lab, Dr. Fuji shouts that his daughter is gone forever, since her clone died. However, it is clearly stated before that Fuji was cloning her as many times as he wanted to until making a successful clone.
Mewtwo's questioning everything about himself from the original version was left in the dub, but some lines were changed to make Mewtwo say that he is stronger than Mew. He still didn't know almost anything about himself at that point, so there is no way he could know that or even believe it if he was so confused.
The title of the movie, "Mewtwo Strikes Back" appears just after Mewtwo says that he is not declaring war on humans, but just simply strike back at them in the original version. The dub changes it to Mewtwo saying that he won't allow humans and Pokémon being alike.
While in the series it is heavily implied that Jessie can't and won't cook at all, a rewritten line in the movie has her offering to cook something.
When the Trainers decide to go to New Island, Fergus says in the dub that all of his Pokémon are Water-types, but he has a Nidoqueen.
Scyther is called Alakazam and Sandslash is called Sandshrew in the dub, but they already know about those Pokémon from the main anime.
In the dub, after the explosion near the castle's battlefield, Mewtwo says that "his clones shall inherit the world" as they get out from the laboratory, inconsistent with his confused and worried expression. This is because in the original he asked what happened, since the explosion was clearly unexpected.
The dub adds lines about "fighting is wrong" during the Pokémon battling to death scenes. The franchise is based on fighting.
One can argue that there is difference between friendly competitive battles and hate-filled fighting, as Brock alludes to.
Ironic Echo: When Nurse Joy is taken out of her trance, the first thing she says is "Where am I? And how in the world did I get here?". Sounds kind of similar to Mewtwo's feelings early in the movie when he's first brought into the world. Probably just a coincidence though.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: After a young Mewtwo was distraught over Amber's death, the scientists pacified it by injecting a serum that as a result forced it to forget about her.
Mewtwo uses his Psychic Powers to do this to Ash, Misty, Brock, the other three trainers, and all of their Pokémon as he, Mew, and his clones leave New Island for greener pastures.
Little "No": Misty's reaction to Ash's "death" and Pikachu's failed attempts to revive him with electricity is an incredibly quiet, saddened whisper of: "Please no..."
Lost in Translation: The English dub translation completely changed the character of Mewtwo. Originally, Mewtwo was less outright evil, and more confused and lost than anything else. He was a tragic character, audiences were supposed to feel sorry for him. Mewtwo had no intentions of using the storm to destroy humanity, it was merely a method to filter out weaker trainers. The genetic Pokémon simply wanted to prove that as a clone, he was equal, if not stronger, than any original Pokémon.
Martial Pacifist: The English version of Mew does not believe that fighting is the only way to resolve an issue and tries to avoid it whenever it can. The Japanese incarnation, on the other hand, is a bit of a Blood Knight.
Merchandise-Driven: Of course. The Japanese version definitely had this, but it was played up a bit in the English dub. It feels like it was meant to excite children about all the new characters as much as possible, and was accompanied by a well-known Burger King promotion which offered about 50 different blind-bagged Pokémon toys in Poké Balls.
Unfortunately, several children died by choking on these. Nevertheless, Pokémon's popularity was relatively untarnished by the incidents.
Mirror Match: The whole plot of the movie revolved around Mewtwo luring trainers to his island and making clones of their Pokémon, leading to a climax which sees each Pokémon fighting its clone. The downside to this is that, because of Mewtwo making the fight even by suppressing his clones' enhanced strength, they're killing each other.
Well, all except Pikachu, who won't even lift a paw to defend himself against his clone's attacks.
Meowth and his clone are another subversion; the original restrains himself from starting a fight and the latter has no interest in proving himself at all, not even seeming to mind that he was born a clone.
Missing Steps Plan: Mewtwo's ambitions seem very confounded and hard to follow. Initially he desires to rule over the world. Self explanatory. But, then he reveals that he wants to simultaneously liberate Pokémon and enslave Humans. However, he deems humans "dangerous" and that they should be destroyed rather than controlled. When he's all but won the battle, he's become an Omnicidal Maniac, who now desires to wipe out Pokémon and people altogether without mercy, save for his clones.
Mood Whiplash: Before the movie proper, viewers were treated with a happy little short about the heroes' Pokémon having a vacation in a park. Within a couple of minutes, the movie has skidded into an uncharacteristically dark and heart-wrenching account of a scientist losing his wife and daughter and Mewtwo going nearly insane with rage and sorrow until his memories are forcibly wiped.
My God, What Have I Done?: As nuts as Mewtwo was in this movie, there was enough good left in him to question his actions when Ash nearly died trying to stop the battle between the clones and the originals.
Nasty Party: Mewtwo's invitation to his island turns out to be this.
The Paranoiac: Mewtwo exhibits several paranoiac traits. His primary motivation is an utter distrust of all humanity for enslaving Pokémon (stemming from being himself a scientific experiment Gone Horribly Right and later used as a weapon by Giovanni), to which end he seeks to Kill All Humans and save Pokémon by enslaving all of them, the idea being that since he cares more about them than their trainers do (in his mind at least), it's for their own good.
Psychopathic Manchild: Some fans of Mewtwo's Japanese incarnation have likened him to a scared, confused and angry child, placing him in types B and C of the trope. His motives basically amount to a psychic-powered temper-tantrum (albeit one that is not entirely unjustified) as a result of his mistreatment and even some of his dialogue is childish in some aspects, saying "Don't tell me what to do!" when Ash and co. confront him on taking their Pokémon. The English dub averts this, glossing over most, if not all, of Mewtwo's childish mannerisms from the Japanese version.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Cute, cheerful Mew in comparison to the badass, angsty Mewtwo. Their force-fields are even color-coded to match.
Replacement Goldfish: The scientists who created Mewtwo did so in the hope that it would help find a way to clone one scientist's daughter.
Reset Button: Mewtwo apparently hits one at the end; not only are all memories of his plot wiped out, but the crew ends up back at the ferry station...during the storm. Effectively, he turned back time.
Restraining Bolt: Kinda-sorta-not-really. The armor serves its purpose (hey, Mewtwo didn't kill the trainers' Pokémon) up until Giovanni told Mewtwo exactly what his purpose was after Giovanni found him. Then Mewtwo goes Harrison Bergeron on the restraints and blows up Team Rocket's base.
Actually, his view isn't that science is bad, but humans, particularly in their USE of science, are bad. He is allowed to make his own clones because he will give their lives meaning, whereas the humans made him for (as was explained to him) no reason. "You are an experiment and your purpose is to be viewed in a tube."
Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: When one of his human guests says that a Pokémon can't be a trainer, Mewtwo counters this argument by tossing him into a fountain via telekinesis and later proceeds to do the same with said human's Gyarados.
Sheathe Your Sword: Pikachu refuses to fight his clone. It...doesn't really work. Weirdly enough, Meowth has more success with his.
As does Psyduck.
Shout-Out: The subtitles for the movie (it actually has two, both are seen as correct however) are references to The Empire Strikes Back and Char's Counterattack.
Shut Up, Kirk!: Pikachu tries to convince Mewtwo that Ash views him (Pikachu) as a friend, not a slave. Mewtwo is not convinced and tries to hurl him to the back of the room, only for Ash to jump in the way and cushion Pikachu's fall.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Despite the film's dark and troubling themes and near-constant violence during the third act, its soundtrack is made up almost exclusively of late-'90s bubblegum pop, whereas industrial rock or nu-metal, which were readily available at the time, would arguably have fit much better. (To be fair, though, most of the songs were present only in the credits, after the story had lightened up, and too much distortion and angst might have scared younger viewers.)
For clarity, the songs featured on the soundtrack deal with themes such as a Childhood Friend Romance or a relationship moving too fast. M 2 M's "Don't Say You Love Me", more or less advertised as the theme to the film, was relegated to being the last 40 seconds of soundtrack music featured in the credits.
Stealth Pun: The English dub has Brock say that he didn't know Vikings were still around while Team Rocket (disguised as Vikings) are attempting to ferry them to New Island. Ash responds that "They mostly live in Minnesota!" This went over the heads of more than a few British and Canadians. note The Minnesota Vikings are a team in the National Football League, Minnesota being a state with a significant Norwegian community.
Take Over the World: This appears to have been Giovanni's motive for manipulating Mewtwo. Mewtwo then tries to pull this off himself with his cloned Pokémon... sort of; everyone would be wiped out prior to this, so he wouldn't really be "taking it over" from anyone.
Talking the Monster to Death: Averted. The main characters are unable to dissuade or reason with Mewtwo or get him to abandon his reckless course of action.
Theme Tune Extended: The theme song for the first season of Pokémon receives a remix here, featuring the additional verses of the original theme.
Too Dumb to Live: As per usual Pokémon tradition, Ash and company actually fall for Team Rocket's Viking disguises and are foolish enough to accept the ride in an antiquated wooden longboat against Mewtwo's violent storm. Needless to say, this lack of common sense would've doomed them all if not for their Water-Type Pokémon.
Team Rocket themselves, for disguising themselves in such a manner long after the Vikings have been committed to history and for not being equipped to tackle such a violent storm.
Tragic Villain: MEWTWO is perhaps the most tragic villain in the anime's universe. The short written for it makes it even more tragic, which makes you feel sorry for the poor guy.
Unguided Lab Tour: Team Rocket, when they sneak onto the secret island and discover the cloning lab that Mewtwo built there.
Unstoppable Rage: Upon learning the circumstances of his birth, Mewtwo flips and goes all Carrie White on the scientists and laboratory. He does it again when Giovanni taunts him about being equal partners.
Vocal Dissonance: Young Mewtwo has the voice of a very small child in the CD dramas. This was replaced by a young teenage male voice in the animated prologue.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Early into the film Mewtwo has a Dragonite in his service who delivers the invitations to worthy trainers. It's never seen again, which raises Unfortunate Implications as in the dub Mewtwo vows to purge all original Pokémon from the world.
The Worf Effect: The montage of Mewtwo while under Giovanni's control shows him curb-stomping, among other things, an Alakazam in seconds, and helping to capture a large herd of Tauros. Gyarados, previously shown as one of the most vicious Pokémon there is in episodes like Pokémon Shipwreck, is the first Pokémon Mewtwo defeats on New Island, reflecting its Hyper Beam back at it and OHKOing it.
Would Hurt a Child: In the Japanese CD dramas, after Mewtwo takes down another trainer's Magmar, Giovanni steals the Magmar, then orders Mewtwo to attack the trainer.
Writer on Board: This movie was released at the height of both Pokémon's popularity and controversy in the United States. To appease the parents in the audience, the last leg of the movie turned into a lecture over why fighting is bad.
The Japanese original took a very different approach to appeal to parents; instead of going "hey, this movie has a great Aesop for your kids!", it actually dealt with more complex moral and existential themes while retaining a related Aesop of its own.