In 1998 (1999 for the US edition), the Pokemon franchise released its first film — Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back. Pokemon was starting to peak in popularity and Pokemon fans all over the world flocked to the theaters to watch this film.
That’s why the movie generated over $163 million at the box office, in both domestic and international markets.
The movie centers around first-generation Pokemon and the characters from the Indigo League, with the addition of Mew and Mewtwo. The film also has two parts: the feature and the 20-minute short. In addition, there was a remake released in 2019.
Before we go into the plot, let’s take a look at the characters.
Those who are familiar with the Indigo League will recognize several characters. Ash, Misty, and Brock are all in the movie, as long as their Pokemon companions — Ash’s Pikachu and Misty’s Togepi are regulars in the movie. We also see the Team Rocket, specifically Jesse, James, and Meowth.
We also meet new characters in the movie. They include Fergus, Corey, and Neesha, three trainers who arrived at New Island alongside Ash, Misty, and Brock. They also meet Miranda, who works at Old Shore Wharf. The team arrives there to get a boat to New Island. Ash also gets into a battle with another trainer, Raymond.
We also meet new Pokemon in this movie. These include:
Plot (Spoiler Alert)
This plot summary features spoilers, so be sure to not read till the end unless you’ve seen the movie. The movie starts off with Dr. Fuji, a scientist who works with Team Rocket, explaining how they found a Mew fossil. Mew is one of the rarest Pokemon that was believed to be extinct.
Using Mew’s DNA, Dr. Fuji creates Mewtwo. However, Mewtwo immediately distrusts humans. He destroys the lab, killing Dr. Fuji and others.
But Mewtwo is having difficulty controlling his powers. Mewtwo is approached by Team Rocket leader, Giovanni, who helps him control his power. After his training, Mewtwo discovers that Giovanni is using him as his tool. As a result, Mewtwo destroys his headquarters.
Mewtwo goes back to the original island where he was born, plotting a plan to end the alliance between Pokemon and humans.
After this scene, Ash and his team are all camping. Ash battles Raymond, who has a Donphan. Afterward, they receive a holographic message delivered by a Dragonite. The message is from an unknown woman who invites Ash and the team to a Master Trainer’s palace on New Island.
The team arrives at Old Shore Wharf, only to discover there are no boats leaving due to a storm (little do they know, the storm was caused by Mewtwo). That’s until a group of Vikings (who are Team Rocket in disguise) offers to give them a ride. A wave destroys their boat, so the team uses their aquatic Pokemon to ride to the island.
Once they reach the island, they meet the woman who sent them the message and she leads them to a room. In the room are three other trainers: Fergus, Corey, and Neesha.
A beam of light appears and the group meets Mewtwo. Mewtwo also presents a machine that can clone Pokemon. We see clones of several Pokemon, such as Blastoise, Charizard, Meowth, and Venosaur. The trainers battle Mewtwo and his Pokemon clones. They lose, and Mewtwo claims all of their Pokemon. His goal is to take all of the Pokemon in the world and create an army. His Pokemon will replace humanity.
Ash finds the cloning room and is able to save Pikachu. As he’s doing this, the cloning machine explodes. This releases all of the Pokemon — real ones and clones.
Ash and the real Pokemon attempt to defeat Mewtwo and the clones again. Mewtwo attacks Ash, but he’s saved by a Mew. Then, Mew joins the fight and leads the team of trainers and real Pokemon. They fight until no Pokemon can fight anymore, exhausted and weak.
Around this time is when Team Rocket shows up. Jesse and James notice the chaos and swear to never fight again. Even Meowth finds his clone and they try to set aside their differences.
The only Pokemon who doesn’t fight is Pikachu, who tries to convince Pikachutwo to not fight. Pikachutwo doesn’t listen and attacks Pikachu. Pikachutwo gets exhausted and no longer wants to fight. This causes Mewtwo to attack the Pokemon.
As the battle between Mew and Mewtwo continues, Ash gets in the way to try and stop them. He’s met with a combination of attacks, which turns him to stone. This then leads to the most emotional part of the film that broke all kids.
Pikachu attempts to revive Ash by shaking him and then electrocuting him. When that doesn’t work, he cries. All of the other Pokemon join him — both real and clones. Their tears reach Ash, melting the stone away. Ash wakes up and Pikachu gives him a big hug.
After this, Mewtwo has a change of heart. He realizes that how he was born doesn’t matter, what he does defines who he is. He erases everyone’s memory and flies away from the island.
The next scene is Ash and all of the trainers sitting at the dock. They have no idea why they’re there and how they got there. However, Ash spots Mew in the clouds. Ash tells Brock and Misty that he just saw a rare Pokemon, but they don’t believe him.
Everyone is on the dock except for Team Rocket. They’re still on the island. Their memory was also erased, so they also don’t understand why they’re there. But they decide to have a vacation. At the end of the movie, we discover that Giovanni is still trying to target Mewtwo.
There’s a lot about Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back that we don’t know about. Here are some interesting facts.
- Ash actually mentions a real state! During the Viking scene, Ash says that modern Vikings live in Minnesota.
- Mewtwo can talk. However, his mouth doesn’t move. There are many theories as to how he communicates. Some speculate he communicates telepathically with those around him.
- There’s an extra trainer on a Fearow, flying to New Island with the other trainers. However, he doesn’t appear in Mewtwo’s palace. There are many theories about this trainer, though most think he died before arriving at Mewtwo’s palace.
- Mewtwo makes a jab at the 1973 musical A Little Night Music. Instead of saying “send in the clowns,” he says “send in the clones.”
- This film was remade. The remake was released in 2019. This new film is more modern-looking; all animation is done in 3D computer animation. It received less than great ratings. At best, many viewers said it was nostalgic.
All great films have their mistakes. Some of the mistakes you can see in Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back include:
- One trainer incorrectly refers to his Pidgeot as Pidgeotto
- In one scene, Ash randomly says “my momma.”
- Meowth incorrectly refers to a Sandslash as Sandshrew
- In the battle between Ash and Raymond, Pikachu attacks a Golem with Thunderbolt. Many fans argue that Golem shouldn’t have been affected, since it’s a Ground-type Pokemon.
- During that same battle, Raymond releases his Machamp twice
- When Fergus releases his Gyrados, the Gyrados look slightly different. Its lips are blue — Gyrados typically has pale lips
- Fergus also states he has all water Pokemon. However, he fails to mention his Nidoqueen is technically a Ground and Poison Pokemon.
Question: What Happens to Mewtwo?
Answer: We discover an update on Mewtwo in the sequel Mewtwo Returns. He arrives in a secluded part of the Johto region, Mt. Quena. He stays there to look after his Pokemon and hide from Giovanni, who’s still trying to capture Mewtwo.
Question: What Pokemon Does Mewtwo Clone?
Answer: Mewtwo clones several Pokemon, but the most prominent are Pikachu, Meowth, Blastoise, Charizard, and Venusaur.
Question: Does Mew Die?
Answer: Mew has an immortal life force, so it can never die.
Question: Is Mewtwo Immortal?
Answer: Since Mewtwo is a clone of Mew, does that mean Mewtwo is also immortal? Yes, he is. In addition, he also doesn’t need to eat or drink for sustenance.
Question: Who’s Stronger, Mew or Mewtwo?
Answer: Mewtwo is more powerful than Mew. Mewtwo also used to be the strongest Pokemon, but it’s no longer at the top of the list. To be exact, there are 15 Pokemon stronger than Mewtwo.
Question: Do the Characters Get Their Memory of Mew and Mewtwo Back?
Answer: Since there’s a Mewtwo Returns movie that features our heroes, does that mean they get their memory back?
Many argue that Ash in particular never lost his memory. This is seen when he recognized Mew in the clouds at the end of the first movie. Keep in mind, this is just a fan theory and there’s no proof behind this.
Question: Is Ditto a Failed Mew?
Answer: Ditto has always been a unique Pokemon. It’s a Generation I Pokemon that’s essentially a blob. It can’t evolve into another Pokemon, though it can breed with other Pokemon — regardless of gender. The only amazing power it has is to transform into another Pokemon by memory, though it’s not always successful. It also transforms into a rock while sleeping, as a defense mechanism.
Since Ditto is such an odd Pokemon, there are a range of fan theories as to what Ditto is and where it comes from. Many states it derived from Mew, even it being a failed lab experiment trying to replicate a Mew.
So, are any of them true? Actually, yes. Ditto IS a clone of Mew. While it’s not confirmed that Ditto is the failed clone of Mew, many believe that scientists were aiming to create a clone similar to Mewtwo and not one that can essentially transform itself into another Pokemon.
Question: What About Mewthree?
Answer: Did you know there’s a Mewthree? However, Mewthree isn’t another lab experiment by Team Rocket. Rather, Mewthree is essentially Shiny Mewtwo in Pokemon Go. Mewthree has never appeared in any TV show and movie, though Geovanni has mentioned its creation in Lavender Town.
Question: Who Is Giovanni?
Answer: Giovanni is the leader of the criminal organization Team Rocket. However, there are many theories about him.
One of the latest theories is that he’s actually Ash’s father. It’s said online that the Pokemon franchise will release a movie in the next couple of years confirming this, but there have been no further details.
Watch Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back
Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back was released in 1998 (1999 in the US) and has since changed the lives of many kids (who are now adults). If you haven’t watched the movie, check it out! Or, you can re-watch it for nostalgia.
Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back isn’t the only movie made by the Pokemon franchise. Here’s a complete guide to all of the Pokemon films made.