Many years ago, Megamind (Will Ferrell) and his future nemesis Metro Man (Brad Pitt) were sent to Earth by their respective parents just before their alien world was destroyed.
While Metro Man was raised by a loving family, Megamind landed in a prison and was brought up by cons, focusing his remarkable intellect on doing bad deeds.
Now, lonely and misunderstood, with only his fish-headed alien friend Minion (David Cross) for company, Megamind has developed an all-consuming rivalry with the goody two-shoes Metro Man.
After countless attempts to kill the lantern-jawed superhero, Megamind is just as surprised as anybody else is when a kidnap plot involving Metro Man's crush - reporter Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey) - leads to the caped avenger's defeat.
Having finally got what he wanted, Megamind finds ruling Metro City to be unfulfilling, leading him to create a new nemesis whose destructive behaviour gives the blue-headed boffin a chance at redemption.
Produced by DreamWorks Animation, Megamind lampoons the pomposity of the superhero genre in much the same way that the studio's Shrek series sucked the sugar and schmaltz out of the fairy tale.
With whizz-bang visuals and a sharp script, Megamind has more than enough going for it to avoid comparisons to the similarly-themed Despicable Me. World weary and full of surprises, like the best animated films, this bittersweet tale can be appreciated on a number of levels.
As such, the film's underlying pessimistic tone is likely to go right over tots' heads, and, while they may laugh at Megamind's clumsy attempts to romance Roxanne, adults may well feel a deeper pang of empathy for the hapless baddie.
More than ten years after Mike Myers unleashed Dr Evil on the world, the idea of a villain with sympathetic foibles is hardly new, but Megamind is zingy enough to make the concept feel fresh.
Although Ferrell's performance is sometimes a little overclocked, his not-so-evil genius is strangely charming and heart-achingly vulnerable, while the supporting cast, particularly Fey and Cross, are equally impressive.