It has only been a few years since the original Despicable Me came out in 2010. Since then, so many people have grown to love (and hate, ironic or not) this blockbuster franchise that spawned from one of the minds of the former Blue Sky Studios, the company behind the famous Ice Age and Rio series. The latest movie in this franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru, is the second-parter in the spin-off movie series Minions following the yellow, goofy humanoids that everyone knows as they venture to find the best “master” out there to serve. Releasing on July 1, The Rise of Gru is on its way to break records, including having the highest box office opening during Independence Day weekend and earning more than $200 million worldwide.
The movie, which is still making a lot at theaters, is seeing its fair share in popularity thanks to the already present nostalgia since Minions released five years ago as well as crowds of formally-dressed fans from TikTok only known as “Gentleminions.” With all the support behind these movies, how and why is the Despicable Me franchise this popular even after a five-year wait? Well, from all the hundreds of memes thanks to everyone on social media to the iconic, recognizable designs of every character, it’s no surprise that Despicable Me and Minions have swept the entertainment industry up in a twist.
From Small Steps
Illumination’s inception happened thanks to Chris Meledandri, an executive producer who worked in Blue Sky Studios and their movies in 2007, though later merged with Universal Studios that next year. Starting out as only a small, unknown studio, Illumination’s first project was actually Despicable Me, which followed a concept of a supervillain’s redemption through the three girls he met along the way. Receiving positive reception and over $540 million worldwide, it was obvious that Illumination would go on to make more sequels that would top each prior movie. These sequels would follow Gru (Steve Carell) exploring the life of heroism following his redemption, though maybe fans will see a change in Despicable Me 4. While the studio would spread out into other genres and concepts, Despicable Me would always be their money maker.
The Growing Fame
It’s no surprise how social media played a big role in Despicable Me’s lifespan. The original movie’s comedy, while feeling a bit robotic from its early animation style and looks, definitely hit for some audiences with some scenes (like Gru’s planning scene) applied into a new format that continues to be meme’d today. Aside from these iconic scenes, the pill-shaped, humorous creatures known as the Minions have seen their time in social media posts again and again thanks to their unintelligible language (made up of thousands of others), their recognizable overalls and goggles, and their charismatic, diverse personalities. The humor that has been made off the Minions is mostly a hit and to some fans, their repetitive presence throughout the series uplifts the ‘okay’ plots in the sequels. Seeing the Minions’ potential from Despicable Me, Illumination would go on to utilize them in the spinoff known as Minions with the first movie released back in 2017. Thanks to the good reception behind that movie, Minions: Rise of Gru was made and is now out for fans to see.
However, after everything that happened on social media after the movie’s release, some may call these events truly despicable for Despicable Me’s worth.
A Nostalgia Trip
Everyone at this point has heard of Morbius and the social media reception behind this movie. Many deem this movie a failure, but it did one thing right: it sparked a trend that no other recent movie had done before. The movie’s reputation swept the world through its unclear plot from its trailers, its social media engagement, and the constant delays throughout 2020 and 2021. Now, unlike Morbius, Despicable Me actually had a large following that still supports it today and thanks to the growth of social platforms, this franchise’s presence in pop culture is bigger than ever.
While Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram may have carried the franchise during this long development phase, it was TikTok that brought Minions an infamous presence. Its main audience back then, consisting of mostly Gen Z’ers, spread itself out through the bigger social platforms over time, though most took to TikTok in the years following a social platform exodus. Thanks to TikTok, The Rise of Gru is now infamous for what could only be described as ‘Gentleminions,’ or crowds of well-fitted fans that love these films. Unfortunately, some theatres have gone to despise this response and because of this, this movie and franchise might spawn more than just these groups of stans.
Nevertheless, Despicable Me and Minions have made their mark on fans and viewers everywhere. With a growing popularity with new audiences coming throughout the years, it’s no surprise that this franchise has lived on in memes, posts, toys, and hearts of thousands of people. Next year, Despicable Me 4 is hitting theaters and with only a few months in between The Rise of Gru and the next film, we could be seeing a resurgence of a franchise that could bring more heartfelt stories with that sweet hint of fresher comedy.