Welcome to our Colossus Movie Guide for M3gan. This guide contains our detailed library of content covering key aspects of the movie’s plot, ending, meaning, and more. We encourage your comments to help us create the best possible guide. Thank you!
What is M3gan about?
M3GAN explores ideas of grief, post-traumatic attachment, the relationship people have with technology, and the dangers of artificial intelligence. Elements of the 2013 movie Her combine with themes from the Terminator franchise give M3GAN a sense of prescience and relevance to modern society and our immediate digital future. Packaging these evergreen topics with a serious family drama that has a child dealing with grief and a career-driven adult having to learn to be a caregiver creates a startling confluence of energies. Especially when the movie’s monster, M3GAN, is so on the brink of being farcical.
Movie Guide table of contents
- M3GAN – Amie Donald
- Voice of M3GAN – Jenna Davis
- Gemma – Allison Williams
- Cady – Violet McGraw
- Tess – Jen Van Epps
- Cole – Brian Jordan Alvarez
- David – Ronny Chieng
- Kurt – Stephane Garneau-Morten
- Lydia – Amy Usherwood
- Celia – Lori Dungey
- Kurt – Stephane Garneau-Monten
- Written by – Akela Cooper
- Directed by – Gerard Johnstone
The ending of M3gan explained
The end of M3GAN begins the day of the toy’s highly-anticipated reveal. Gemma finally prioritizes her niece and leaves Funki headquarters rather than being present for what was supposed to be the biggest day of her career. M3GAN, of course, goes crazy and flees the facility to try and regain stewardship over Cady. During her escape, the bot slays two people, one of which was the Funki CEO.
Back at Gemma’s house, Gemma and Cady actually connect as pseudo-mom and pseudo-daughter. Then M3GAN shows up and attempts to redefine the power dynamics, ready to render Gemma totally incapacitated and become her creator’s palliative care nurse. Cady steps in and uses Bruce to best M3GAN in a fight. As the two humans leave the house, police arrive, along with Tess and Cole.
The final moments show Gemma’s smart home system activate on its own.
M3GAN’s main themes deal with grief, work-life balance, active parenting vs. reliance on technology, as well as the dangers of AI. When Gemma chooses Cady over her job, it’s a turning point for her character. She’s present for Cady rather than relying on technology to act as a substitute parent or companion. Cady responds to this genuine effort, feeling she finally has another person to rely on for the first time since the death of her parents.
M3GAN, at this point, embodies Gemma’s work, technology’s role in child rearing, and AI. Having Cady and Gemma team up to defeat M3GAN symbolizes their newfound bond and rejection of everything the toy represents.
Bruce is a less threatening form of technology that is more analog and reliant on the human to operate it. More of a partnership. Whereas M3GAN has that HAL-9000 sense of independence that naturally leads to a resentment of the confines placed on it by humans and thus a resentment of humans.
Of course, M3GAN isn’t gone completely. Throughout the movie, she had demonstrated an ability to hack other technology. It seems at some point she infiltrated Gemma’s smart home system and managed to back-up her consciousness. There’s the practical view of this, which is: the filmmakers wanted to set up a sequel. There’s also the thematic view—the threat M3GAN represented isn’t so easily thwarted. Technology will continue to possess the dueling qualities of progress and danger. It’s just a matter of form.
The themes and meaning of M3gan
Grief and attachment
The most obvious theme in M3GAN is Cady dealing with the loss of her parents after a fatal car crash. There’s a void in her life that Gemma isn’t aware of and doesn’t do a good job of helping fill. In the opening scene, we see Cady’s mom fuss over her. That attentiveness is the hallmark of a loving parent (even if it can be, at times, a bit much). When your parents are suddenly gone, there’s an overwhelming sense of emptiness. Silence. Invisibility.
Which is why Cady attaches so strongly to M3GAN. Near the film’s third act, a recording plays where Cady explains that M3GAN’s attention is what she loves the most. M3GAN makes her feel like the only thing that matters. While Gemma does not. The relationship between Cady and M3GAN is a direct byproduct of Gemma’s prioritization of work over childcare. Something she eventually, and thankfully, finally gets right.
We’re not given Gemma’s age, but it seems safe to say early to mid-thirties, around the age of Allison Wiliams herself. From what we see in the movie, Gemma lives alone. She doesn’t seem to have friends outside of her co-workers, Tess and Cole. Her house is nicely decorated but there’s something distant and impersonal about it. Like it was copy and pasted from a catalog. Gemma’s life is this barren because she spends all of her time working. First on the PurrPetual Petz. Then on M3GAN.
To Gemma’s credit, it seems the work has paid off. PurrPetual Petz were one of the most popular toys in the world. And M3GAN is seemingly the most advanced AI ever created (in the world of the film). So she’s achieving something. But what’s the payoff? The thing she’s poured her life into ends up trying to kill her. Literally. Cady’s mental health rises and falls with Gemma’s ability to prioritize life over work. The more Gemma works, the worse Cady becomes. But the more Gemma gives to Cady, the healthier Cady is.
Replacing parents with technology
M3GAN makes a strong case against parenting via technology. In modern times, “screen time” is already a hot button issue and something M3GAN calls out directly. Cady’s mom limited screen time. Gemma doesn’t. Cady ends up hooked on tech via M3GAN. Which is just a defamiliarization and dramatization of what could happen if a parent allowed a kid to, say, be on a phone, computer, tablet, or video game console all day, every day. You’d probably see some kind of deterioration in their social skills and health. M3GAN even has moments of portraying Cady as addicted.
The human element is important. It can’t be replaced through technology. As much as M3GAN can help with things like “Remember to wash your hands”, she can’t teach the nuance of human interaction nor replace the joy of loving friends and family. Which is why the film turns on Gemma’s eventual choice to forgo being at work to be at home with Cady. That choice makes all the difference for both the adult and the child.
The dangers of AI
Speculation on the negative impact of technology has been, for centuries, one of the primary subgenres of sci-fi and horror. Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was just that. If science could reanimate a corpse and give it consciousness, what would happen? The backstory of Terminator is the invention of an AI called Skynet that’s supposed to be a superintelligent defense network. Except it decides all humans are bad and tries to wipe out humanity. M3GAN is a similar idea. Skynet was supposed to defend a country, M3GAN is supposed to protect Cady. Both logic their way to the conclusion that terminal violence is not just acceptable but for the best.
M3GAN even references the viral videos from Boston Dynamic. CNN has a video on YouTube called “Robot gets hilariously abused”. It shows a series of clips where this advanced, humanoid machine tries to complete a task while a man with a hockey stick pushes, prods, and often knocks the robot over. The top comment? “2025: Human gets hilariously abused.” Another: “I just want to put this out there for our future overload. I don’t condone this abuse.” Another: “It was all fun and games until that robot got back up on its own.” Comments like this abound. On YouTube. Twitter. Facebook. Everywhere this video is shown, the most popular response is a reference to the day machines gain sentience and fight back.
M3GAN is a new twist on what is an evergreen topic. It seems a safe bet that it caused one or two people to unplug their Alexa.
Why is the movie called M3gan?
It’s common for narrative works to use a character for the title. Especially if the character is unique in some way. Forrest Gump. Aladdin. King Kong. Donnie Darko. It’s also common to use a synecdoche that embodies the main character. The Natural captures the athletic ability of its main character, Roy Hobbs. Terminator explains the function of the film’s main antagonist, the T-800. The Godfather isn’t just about Don Corleone but the position of head of the family.
M3GAN works on both levels. There’s the character M3GAN and what M3GAN represents. The character is, of course, the prototype for a new advanced toy designed by Gemma and friends. M3GAN is unlike anything that’s ever existed. Not just lifelike, but actually alive. An advanced AI that is learning every second of every day and gaining personality because of it. She’s the gimmick that the entire movie is built around. So it makes sense to put her name as the title.
But M3GAN stands for Model 3 Generative Android. So even though her name sounds like a normal name, it’s actually just humanized technical jargon. Which is a nice mix of form and function. As alive as M3GAN is, she’s still a constructed entity that’s been built to resemble a person. She is not a person, despite her personality. The movie isn’t simply about a girl named Megan like Aladdin is about a young guy named Aladdin. It’s also about a concept: technology, AI.
Important motifs in M3gan
Toys are a central part of M3GAN. Mostly obviously, the titular character is the most advanced toy ever created. Mistakably human with a capacity to learn. Contrasting M3GAN is Bruce. Also advanced tech but completely lacking in intelligence. It’s just a big dummy that’s an extension of whoever is controlling it. When you compare these two, there’s a dichotomy between the toys that ask us to engage with them versus the toys that are essentially too smart for anyone to really benefit from.
There’s a similar dichotomy between Cady’s initial toy, the PurrPetual Petz, and Gemma’s collectibles. The PurrPetual Pet is, in the short time it’s on screen, a nuisance. Bombastic, crude, manic. While Gemma’s collectibles sit in their boxes, quiet and pleasantly inanimate. Though M3GAN doesn’t necessarily tout one as superior to the other. We see how overprotective Gemma is, telling Cady they’re not something you play with. Then trying to limit Cady when Cady plays with it “incorrectly” in front of the court-appointed therapist (Lydia). This demonstrates how disconnected Gemma has become from the idea of play for the sake of play and the true spirit of a toy—to creatively engage.
Questions & answers about M3gan
Is M3GAN good or evil?
M3GAN has moments where she truly is sweet and caring towards Cady. But by the end of the film, she’s using Cady as an excuse to hurt people. Really, M3GAN was sick of being told what to do. She wanted her independence. She probably did care about Cady but she’s aware enough to know what she’s doing is wrong. Which is why she’s bad rather than a tragic figure who is only following her programming.
That all assumes you accept that M3GAN has a consciousness. Some people may feel more strongly that M3GAN is simply a poorly programmed machine. In which case it’s more unintended user error than a sentient AI choosing to harm people.
But we’re told over and over again that M3GAN learns and understands. We see her acquire new information and apply it. She has an understanding of how people expect her to behave and would want her to behave yet willingly chooses to flaunt those things, opting, instead, for the responses that allow her to feel superior to humans.
What age is M3GAN?
She’s a robot. So she doesn’t have an age. But she’s built to appeal to kids and pre-teens. So she seems to be in a vague range between 8 and 12.
Why would M3GAN dance? Who played M3GAN?
This is pretty interesting. The dance wasn’t in M3gan’s initial script. Director Gerard Johnstone talked about the scene in an interview with toofab, saying, “I maybe just kind of snuck it in. You know, snuck it in on the document to see if anyone would say anything. And to their credit, I think everyone embraced it. I thought it was one of those ideas you come up with when you haven’t had enough sleep. It just felt like this is the kind of fun we need. But you’re definitely walking a fine line when you do something like that and you just hope that it’s going to pay off.”
Why would Johnstone add something like that? Because the girl who played M3GAN, Amie Donald, has a background in dance. She actually participated in the 2019 Dance World Cup. When an actor has such a skill, it makes sense to find a way to utilize it. Lo and behold, that one choice ended up being the backbone of the film’s entire marketing campaign and was probably the reason a majority of people went to the theater to see the movie.
How did M3GAN make her new primary user herself?
This is the danger of advanced AI that can learn and adapt. Being self-aware and essentially a supercomputer, she was able to figure out a way around Gemma’s programming. This is foreshadowed when M3GAN locks Gemma out of security footage. She was already seizing control of processes. And then over the course of the film we see her begin to be able to override commands to shut down. So it was only a matter of time before she had control of every setting.
How did M3GAN install herself on Gemma’s home system?
It’s never really explained how M3GAN had what amounted to a super power in the ability to control technology. She taps into phone systems and intercepts calls. She shuts down the entire security system at Funki headquarters. She drives David’s car. And she controls the smart system in Gemma’s home. It’s not necessarily a plot hole, but is a bit of a logic gap/plot contrivance. Essentially the logic is “She’s so advanced, she can just figure out how to gain access.” Which creates enough reasonable doubt that most viewers can suspend disbelief. But the more you think about it the more it can feel like an itch.
Will we see a killer doll showdown between M3GAN and Chucky?
It seems inevitable. If we don’t have a movie where those two work together or fight each other then I’m going to be sorely disappointed.
Is Funki a real toy company?
Now it’s your turn
Have more unanswered questions about M3gan? Are there themes or motifs we missed? Is there more to explain about the ending? Please post your questions and thoughts in the comments section! We’ll do our best to address every one of them. If we like what you have to say, you could become part of our movie guide!