The first animated appearance of Mewtwo occured towards the end of the first season of Pokemon, leading up to the release of the first of the Pocket Monster theatrical film, in 1998. Mewtwo had served as a "bonus level" (of sorts) in the Red, Green and Blue games for Nintendo's Gameboy, as a card is the Pokemon TGC basic deck, and as the mysterious and sought after 150th Pokemon. His first true outing was as the title character of Myutsuu No Gyakushu (Mewtwo Strikes Back).
Written as the villain of the first pokemon film, Mewtwo was somewhat more complex than original scripts called for. The writers eventually discarded the idea of a naturally confrontational character and opted to write a more subtle and motivated villain. However, Mewtwo is by no means original. The complicated, ronin badboy is an anime clichè seen almost as frequently as the Motivated Hero or the Charmingly Inoocent Girl. However, Pokemon was not a show that had employed this archtype previously, and the writers did their best to put an original spin into their film lead.
Mewtwo is dark, moody and confused, three things that will win a teenage audiance in five seconds flat. The younger set, responsible for dragging their older siblings or parents to theaters were satisfied to see their sunny heroes and adorable monsters. It was the older ones who wondered about the unhappy Mewtwo's motivations. Mewtwo’s quietly building rage and brooding personality are a far cry form the normal, chipper cast of the Television show. Mewtwo, unlike Ash or Misty, has not led a perfect life. Because of this the character is easier to sympathise with --especially for those just entering their "angsty stage"
We have established Mewtwo as a layered character, not a straight-up "bad guy", and we can find his contemporaries in other fiolms aimed at roughly the same age group -- the first Sailor Moon film featured a manipulated young man named Fiore in a similar role, Digital Monsters III had a lonely Chocomon seeking to recover his childhood. The Japanese have a history of creating complex backstories and motivators for all characters, not just their heroes. With this in mind, we see that Mewtwo is the victim of circumstance. Dissappointed with what he knows of the world, he seeks to lash out at all he knows, before it can do him further harm. Something many children can relate to
In Myutsuu no Gyakushu (excluding Myutsuu To Ai --see Radio Drama and Mewtwo and Amber) Mewtwo is immediately angry and confused by his sudden introduction to life. He asks his creators whether Mew is his mother or his Father.. When they laugh and tell him that it is neither, but he may call it that if he wishes, Mewtwo asks what they mean by this. He asks if God has brought him into existence. The scientists laugh again, and inform him that, while this place is undoubtedly to be the new Mecca, God does not create life in great glass jars. Surprised, Mewtwo demands they tell him if they have created him. Confirming this, they explain their purpose for doing so: Mewtwo is to become the most powerful fighting pokemon in existence. Mewtwo is unsatisfied --even disturbed-- by this. His anger and previously untested psychic power manifest destructively. Confusion and distress take on a viable form and destroy the laboratory, kill the scientists and ruin most of the small island.
Even though we see Mewtwo as an all-powerful character, he almost immediately is preyed upon by Sakaki who offers him power, a purpose and a reason to live. Mewtwo's pride makes him vulnerable. Later, unsatisfied with living to fight and jaded by Sakaki's view of him as a tool he destroys the Rocket base and returns to the island of his birth.
Mewtwo hungers for vengeance the security of knowing he is better than the original mew. These twin tortures drive him to trick young trainers into a dangerous journey to the island, where he plays host to them in an elaborate masquerade. His ability to manipulate Nurse Joy is also interesting. Mewtwo shows a human dependence even as he shuns them.
“I brought you here to make you take care of me, and also to help me with my plan. Someone who knows as much about Pokémon physiology as you do was useful to have around, but you don’t remember any of that, do you?”
Mewtwo acts very arrogant while he has his ‘guests’ visiting, but once Mew appears he forgets all about them and turns his attention to the creature whose shadow has haunted him since birth.
Mewtwo is enraged by the way Mew ignores and teases him, and how it treats his serious attack as a joke and a game. Once the actual battle begins, Mew quickly drops that act and Mewtwo discovers they are closely matched. In the end, Mewtwo is shocked that Satoshi puts himself in such danger to get his message across to them, too wrapped up in their own affairs to see what was happening around them. Mewtwo is surprised by how much a human boy could care for his own created copies, and their ability to shed tears for the death of an innocent. This sentiment is echoed in Myutsuu no Tanjou. Mewtwo accepts Mew's offer of truce, for both have learned that their "side" is flawed, and leaves with the creature to find somewhere to begin anew.
In Myutsuu to Ai and in the CD drama, Mewtwo appears as a much more vulnerable character than theatrically. The child Mewtwo seen in the TGV featurette and in the second act of the CD Drama, Myutsuu to Ai is just as innocent as Mew, if not moreso. These two stories show the beginning of his descent into depression and anger. Mewtwo loses his only companions, other copied monsters and a human child who loves them, and suffers the indignity of hearing them referred to as a product that can be created again and again. This has had a deep impact on him in the middle of mourning --he becomes agitated as in the film's opening. The response of the genetics team is to drug him into oblivion. Years alone in a semi-drugged state with only his thoughts and fragmneted memory warp his mind in a cyclical obsession with the meaning of existence. Mewtwo’s character has a reason to be the way he is.
Mewtwo’s dark personality hides a character that is not the carbon ‘bad guy’, but actually very philosophical, a deep thinker and a fascinating character. His motivations stand alone, even when taken out of the context of Pocket Monsters. There is little wonder why the first film enjoys enduring popularity even so long after the Pokemon wave has beached. He is the only film character to reappear in a second full-length feature, continues to grace the various opening theme animations, and has become a staple of the Super Smash Brothers Nintendo series. The series writers hit on something quite interesting in their troubled anti-hero, and it's obvious that we have not heard the end of him