Pokemon is a series that always will have a subset of players that root for the underdog. It’s very easy to stumble into people declaring that they hate legendaries or events or megas or overused pokemon. And we all have that kind of bias to some degree, there are things that ticks us off because they are powerful or popular, but it’s also good to be fair with things and praise objects that might not be our cup of tea from an objective standpoint. And going through that logic, I need to express my admiration to Mewtwo who is one of the best pokemon characters in the whole series.
Of course, this is an unfair advantage when you consider that just a handful of pokemon and trainers have actual character arcs. Seviper is one critter among several hundreds it has design and personality, but lacks of a proper story to call its own. Azelf is featured in Platinum’s storyline… As a damsel in distress. Others like Kyurem and Groudon are certainly threats, but they also behave as forces of natures a bit above character motivations. Mewtwo in the other hand has a complex backstory that gives him enough of a reason to hate humans and be grateful towards them at the same time. Humans made Mewtwo… So he was the ultimate weapon, so he could be used to destroy, essentially.
Mewtwo looks like an animalistic Frankenstein monster but you also feel that it comes from an alien place. If you look at it’s original sprite it was meant to look a bit terrifying, appealing to the archtype of “failed experiment”. Also since Mewtwo was made to fight it’s amazing fighting status make very much sense. He is not one of those legendaries that happened to be stupidly powerful because Arceus felt like it: battlepower is Mewtwo’s nature and reason. It lives to sweep teams. So team Rocket probably pissed their collective pants when this thing escaped into the nature (and then got two frigging mega évolutions, ’cause why not).
That backstory is sort of generic, but in a metatextual kind of way, is scary to see that people use Pokemon for power and then start to make powerful Pokemon to achieve that. Also in a world where Pokemon are used to fight building one from the ground up as a fighter is pretty disturbing. However, Mewtwo himself is not a villain in any proper sense, he’s an antagonist at worse and a powerful ally at best. He’s also not downright invincible and has a relatively down to earth reach (he’s not busting the planet with some ancient doomsday weapon if you know what I mean).
Mewtwo’s visual design is very easy to identify, from his legs, to his gigantic hips, to his rounded fingers there is a mix of sleekness and disproportion that makes it easy on the eyes. Mew has a much more generic look and less extreme battle abilities, so understandably it has Fallen behind in popularity. Mewtwo’s very name is actually better than Mew, as it’s repetition of sounds and the almost robotic numeric reference in the name comes out as both natural and in-character. Mewtwo might be the second but he’s the number 1 at a lot of things, he was introduced to the series before Mew was, though they make an unlikely pair (the original recipe Mew is like a fashion attachment to the more know legend, some kind of backstory gimmick).
Finally in the games Mewtwo is stupid fast, stupid powerful and has Psystrike which might be the best offensive move in the game. His abilities are rather lacking, Unnerve is ok in doubles (nothing broken) and Pressure can be interesting coupled with Recover, but most of the time they do a whole lot of nothing. Mewtwo doesn’t need a whole lot of help to make his thing, even when the other legendaries are available he’s still top notch as far as offenses go and can sweep unprepared teams. Of course, being a Psychic type is probably what hurts Mewtwo’s viability the most as it adds very little to his otherwise top notch damaging prowess (Psychic covers very little of an spectrum as far as Super Effective damage goes, so it mostly matters when hitting neutrally in most formats).
As far as my personal opinion on Mewtwo… I actually like him quite a bit. Mewtwo is one of those characters I rarely get to play in the main series as he’s always overleveled and banned from most compétitions, but I have used him in the past and I like that he’s somewhat fragile for such a heavy hitter. Fragile hard-hitters tend to make it into my teams, it’s an archtype that you can only use so much in a single run, but I try it as much as I can because it’s challenging to make the right décisions without the buffer of huge defenses to make up for your errors. He’s always among my top legendary pokemon and among the Psychic types I enjoy the most, I use it often in the sidegames like in Shuffle or Smash. Likely the flagship pokemon that I like the best (Pika is ok, Charizard sucks) and it also plays pretty well so designers must like him too.
That’s my short love letter to Mewtwo, next I’ll be wrapping up Psychic week!