Mewtwo's forgotten childhood - Exploring Pokemon: The First Movie's deleted opening

Mewtwo
Mewtwo's origin story was cut from the final release of Pokemon: The First Movie (Image via The Pokemon Company)

Pokemon: The First Movie, also known as Mewtwo Strikes Back, was first released in Japan in 1998 and North America in 1999. It is well-known among the franchise's fans as a landmark moment in the series' animated pursuits, moving beyond television and onto the Silver Screen. However, the final cut omitted a sizable portion of the movie surrounding the origin of the creature Mewtwo.

Fortunately, the DVD release of the Pokemon animated special Mewtwo Returns gave fans a look into the previously unreleased footage. This cut portion of The First Movie later came to be known as The Uncut Story of Mewtwo's Origin as a bonus feature of the Mewtwo Returns' DVD.

But why is this unreleased portion of Pokemon: The First Movie so significant for fans? Why is it important to Mewtwo's story and lore in the franchise as a whole? Let's take a look at the answers to these questions ahead.


What happened in the deleted Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back prologue?

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Mewtwo has had several purported origin stories across the Pokemon franchise in both games and animated works. However, the cut prologue of Mewtwo Strikes Back offers a new take on how the vicious legendary species came to be and why it was created in the first place, standing in contrast to other origins set forward before 1998.

Adapted from the radio drama The Birth of Mewtwo, the deleted opening of Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back runs roughly 20 minutes in length. It begins with Dr. Fuji on an expedition to find Mew, bankrolled by Team Rocket boss Giovanni. By sampling the creature's DNA, Giovanni aims to create a Mew clone.

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Unlike the opening of Mewtwo Strikes Back, Dr. Fuji has a personal agenda that isn't shown in the theatrical release. He aims to use the research project to resurrect his dead daughter Amber. The expedition finds a purported Mew fossil, leading to Mewtwo's replication and "birth" on behalf of Giovanni and Team Rocket.

A young Mewtwo is seen gestating in a tank. While it has strong vital signs, it hasn't awoken and gained consciousness quite yet. However, the fledgling Legendary Pokemon can still hear voices surrounding it but can't quite parse what they're saying. The creature does possess telepathy, and it is contacted by another clone.

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This telepathic clone is none other than a tank-bred Amber, known as Ambertwo. She explains that she is human, leading the young Mewtwo to wonder if it is a Pokemon or a human, but Ambertwo explains that the difference shouldn't matter. Fuji's team discovers Ambertwo and Mewtwo's psychic link, but the doctor brushes off the news.

Ambertwo connects with Mewtwo once more, stating that she and all the other experiments in the lab are clones. Regardless, she states that while she may not be the original Amber, she still feels like Amber in her heart.

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Dr. Fuji thinks back on the loss of his daughter and how his pursuit of reviving her led to his wife leaving him, remarking that Amber could never be brought back. The scientists remark that Giovanni will be pleased to have the strongest Pokemon of all, but Dr. Fuji keeps his thoughts focused on using the data to create a viable clone of Amber.

In their mental link, Ambertwo explains the beauties of nature and the world to Mewtwo as well as clones of Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. However, the latter clones vanish, leaving the young Mewtwo to search Ambertwo's "Remember Place" to find the trio. However, Ambertwo also begins to fade away.

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As Ambertwo and the Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle clones begin to expire, Dr. Fuji realizes that the cloning process hasn't borne fruit as intended. Mewtwo cries at the loss of its friends. However, Ambertwo thanks Mewtwo for being a friend and caring about her. She says that it's time for her to say goodbye but that Mewtwo will survive and its life will be wonderful.

Mewtwo's distress cause the Pokemon's psychic brainwaves to spike, leading to alarms blaring in the lab. Fuji orders a memory-wiping serum to be administered to the creature to keep its powers in check.

The solution works and places Mewtwo in a deep sleep. Dr. Fuji is relieved but is angry that his daughter is once again lost to him.

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Mewtwo continues its slumber that feels like an eternity, gestating and growing to maturity. It continues thinking about Ambertwo's parting words.

When Mewtwo grows to completion, the beginning of Pokemon: The First Movie starts. In it, Mewtwo escapes the clutches of Team Rocket and creates a haven for clones like it.


Why does this cut Mewtwo origin matter in Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back?

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Although Mewtwo's anger toward the humans that attempted to use it as a weapon is well-covered in Mewtwo Strikes Back, the cut prologue deepens the reasoning behind its resentment. In its childhood, the creature was told that its survival was worth the loss of Ambertwo and the other clones, as life was a beautiful thing.

However, Mewtwo's early life outside of the gestation tank was cruel at the hands of Team Rocket, who wished to subjugate it and rob it of its freedom and destiny. This runs counter to what the Pocket Monster was told by Ambertwo, words that it would replay while it slumbered.

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It's likely that as Mewtwo began to make its way in the world, it discarded the notions that Ambertwo attempted to impart to it. All Mewtwo saw upon its awakening was cruelty and domination, leading to its desire to escape and create a place where it and other Pokemon clones could evade oppression from humans.

Furthermore, Mewtwo clearly struggled with the concept of itself as a "copy" of another Pokemon and whether it had any identity of its own. This is part of the reason it resents and battles Mew later in Mewtwo Strikes Back and why the various clones at its side also fought their "originals."

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Fortunately, Ambertwo's ideals lived on through Ash Ketchum, who sacrificed himself to end the battle between Pokemon and their clones. The remorseful tears of the various Pocket Monsters revived Ash from petrification, leading Mewtwo to remember the words he was told in his earliest moments of cognition, remarking:

"The human sacrificed himself, to save the Pokemon. I pitted them against each other, but not until they set aside their differences did I see the true power they all share deep inside. I see now that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are."
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The Uncut Origin of Mewtwo's Birth is significant not just for the opening and ending of Pokemon: The First Movie but for the creature's personal ethos as a whole. Each time a player encounters it in the game, it can be tough not to think about how poorly it was treated during its creation, making its rage toward others seem justifiable to a point.

This cut prologue vastly enhances the human element that Mewtwo possesses. Questions on identity and the meaning of life have swirled around humans since our earliest days, and the glimpses of Mewtwo's childhood show the very same humanity that we all have.

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It's unclear why this opening never made it to the theatrical release of Mewtwo Strikes Back. However, the weight it imposes on the oft-understood Legendary Pokemon vastly expands Mewtwo's lore and makes it more relatable to fans everywhere.

Mewtwo's origins may vary between movies, games, and animated episodes, but one thing is abundantly clear: peace between humans and Pokemon in this fictional universe can only be broached with understanding and care, something that Satoshi Tajiri has hammered home time and time again across the franchise's media.

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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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