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Biggest Unanswered Questions In M3GAN

"M3GAN" has a lot of people talking. A surprise hit to perhaps everyone but the audiences who flocked to see it, "M3GAN" took over theaters its first weekend, even beating out the Friday totals of the years-in-the-making "Avatar" sequel (in its 4th week) by $300,000.

The film became a viral sensation months before it was even released, and now a "M3GAN" sequel is reportedly in the works after just a single weekend of box office receipts. This kind of success and positive reception is sure to generate more of the same through word of mouth and social media, as well as plenty of speculation about what will come next. 

With M3GAN becoming the Hollywood's new It Girl, however, there's no reason to only focus on her future. She's just as enthralling in the here and now, and she has us analyzing every frame of her movie. This leads to a few small queries and more than one major headscratcher, so we sat down to take a look at the biggest unanswered questions left by "M3GAN."

Contains spoilers for "M3GAN."

Has Gemma never heard of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics?

Gemma (Allison Williams), aunt to Cady (Violet McGraw) and programmer of M3GAN (played by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis), is a genius creator of artificial intelligence robotics systems and is even described at one point by a board member as "the most valuable asset" they have. Surely she's well-read enough to have encountered Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics before.

Isaac Asimov is kind of a big deal in the world of science fiction, and wrote a lot about robotics (via Britannica). His rules say that a robot can't harm people or allow people to be harmed, can't disobey people except when it conflicts with rule one, and can't harm itself except when it breaks either of the first two rules. These are basic tenets of robotics -– and just all-around good ideas –- that should be baked into even the most rudimentary code. So why weren't they with M3GAN?

The movie makes pretty clear that Gemma is rushed in getting the product ready, eager to give it to Cady to help her feel better (particularly since Gemma herself is so ill-equipped in that area). She's also late to deliver a prototype to David (Ronny Chieng), and thus strives to impress him. She even misses setting up basic things like parental controls and parameters before pairing M3GAN with Cady, likely because she has no point of reference for the questions and needs of actual parents. All in all, it's safe to say M3GAN was in need of some major focus group testing.

If Gemma is so bad with kids, why did she want custody of Cady?

"M3GAN" opens with a car accident. Sole survivor Cady, now orphaned, is given to her Aunt Gemma, as per the wishes of her late mother, Gemma's sister. Gemma is clearly in over her head, having no idea how to talk to, care for, or entertain a child, and seems to be just as emotionally blocked about mourning her sister's death as Cady is. Her discomfort raises the question of whether she really wanted custody of Cady and if so, why?

The answers are probably fairly simple. First, she probably agreed because it's what her sister wanted. She also had no reason to believe she'd ever be asked to fulfill this duty. And even though Gemma may not have remembered exactly why her sister thought Cady's paternal grandparents were "weird," her obvious physical wince at the therapist Lydia's (Amy Usherwood) mention of their offer to raise Cady in Jacksonville indicates that Gemma might at the very least not want to be that far away from Cady herself, even if it's because of simple guilt.

Gemma is flailing through pseudo-parenthood at first, but all first-time parents do. It's only more obvious in this case because Cady isn't an infant. She can voice dissatisfaction and conflict and can't be soothed with a bit of bouncing or a car ride. Any big transition like this is going to have multiple periods of adjustment, and any therapist worth her salt would reassure Gemma with that knowledge.

Why is Cady's therapist so judgmental?

Soon after Gemma brings a traumatized Cady into her home, therapist Lydia shows up at their door looking to observe, and immediately makes a snide comment about Cady still being in pajamas. Now, maybe the pandemic didn't happen in the "M3GAN" universe, but people spent an entire year in pajamas going crazy because they couldn't go outside, so this elementary-age child can probably go a couple days after being in a horrific accident without anyone getting in a huff.

Then, Lydia's eyebrows go into overdrive when Cady explains that the carefully arranged toys on the bookshelves are actually her aunt's collectibles. Lydia, again, acts like she's never heard of this very common, normal practice of collecting valuable things that are for display only. And despite Gemma falling over herself to open one regardless, just for the sake of impressing this woman, Lydia doesn't even give her an A for effort. Instead she sneers at Gemma's attempts to explain how the toy works -– her literal field of expertise and an area of conversation that might break the ice -– and forces her to wait for this reticent, withdrawn child to come up with something. It's asinine.

The portrayals of mental health professionals have improved over the years but are still flawed (per The American Psychological Association). Let's not undermine progress with a social worker who can't even acknowledge and appreciate that Gemma clearly loves her niece and is making an effort. A stumbling, awkward effort, but an effort nonetheless.

Why is M3GAN so strong?

Should a robot built to be a toy really be strong enough to, say, pull a boy's ear off? Or stab through all the muscle, bone, and viscera contained in the human torso? The obvious answer is of course not, and anyone watching "M3GAN" would be reasonable in asking. But beneath her pliant, silicon skin is a titanium alloy skeletal structure (akin to the stuff Iron Man is made of). Also, M3GAN is programmed to learn and adapt.

M3GAN's strength isn't so much a design flaw as it is a design consequence. As M3GAN takes her general directive to watch over Cady as a mission to protect her from any and all harm — which then expands to include avenging prior harm — she researches and studies ways to go about these tasks without fully understanding them.

For instance, when Gemma mentions death and M3GAN overhears, M3GAN simply looks up the definition and ramifications of the word herself after Gemma makes it clear she doesn't want to get into it. She learns what the word means in an intellectual sense, but not in an emotional sense. In this way, M3GAN is like a child herself, coming across the factual reality of something without understanding the context or implications of it, and that can make her very dangerous.

Do M3GAN's schematics get leaked to a rival company?

After the wildly successful demonstration of M3GAN to the Board of Directors, David's abused assistant Kurt (Stephane Garneau-Monten) illegally accesses the encrypted, classified specs for M3GAN's designs and saves them to his personal device. Where do they go from there?

Although there's no further evidence or allusion to this in the film, when M3GAN confronts Kurt in the elevator she states his intentions were initially little more than the mischievous pushing of boundaries. We assume she knows this because she's connected to all the company computers through their network, but her emphasis on the fact that his actions started as a prank certainly implies that his motivation evolved into something perhaps more sinister and/or self-serving.

This could very well be the filmmakers leaving themselves an avenue to explore in a sequel. One might think that no company would want to recreate a living doll that went on a murder spree, but as of the end of the film, no one actually knows M3GAN was responsible for the attacks other than Cady, Gemma, and her development team. And it's not likely anyone will believe them when they claim a toy robot was at fault, so if M3GAN's schematics are out there, it could mean big trouble in the future.

Why unplug M3GAN at her body instead of at the server?

When developer Tess (Jen Van Epps) realizes that M3GAN has infiltrated and shut down their system — even while powered off -– because she's still plugged into the network, she tells Cole (Brian Jordan Alvarez) to unplug her. But cords connect at both ends, and it makes no sense that he chooses to disconnect the cables where they plug into M3GAN instead of where they plug into the network.

There's really no good reason for this outside of the need for another jump scare horror movie moment, because even if it was his habit to unplug his devices at their ports, he's already feeling trepidation regarding M3GAN and would likely want to avoid her. Plus, Tess is right there in the room with him; as another technical mind whose literal job is coming up with better ways to solve problems, she could easily tell him to unplug the cables at their source. If he does this, he doesn't go anywhere near M3GAN, she doesn't grab him by the neck, and he doesn't almost hang to death.

They might also have successfully powered her down for the moment and maybe stopped her murderous rampage before it began. Or, y'know, continued.

Why did M3GAN leave Tess and Cole alive?

Once M3GAN hangs Cole on her docking apparatus, Tess jumps to a nearby workstation and grabs a hand saw, brandishing it as a weapon. Rather than confront this threat, M3GAN turns her attention to the high voltage power cage and Tess runs over to cut Cole free with her saw. She succeeds, but immediately afterwards M3GAN leaves the room and the high voltage power cage explodes.

It's a relatively small explosion (as movie explosions go) and fairly contained, so viewers might surmise that the two developers survived the blast. That supposition is confirmed at the end of the film when they show up outside Gemma's house to see if everyone is okay. It would've been easy for M3GAN to kill them, though, and given the capriciousness of some of her other murders, it's not unreasonable to wonder why she let these two live.

On one hand, it's possible she didn't know they would survive the explosion. Pyrotechnics tend to have a mind of their own, so while you can start a fire, you can't always tell which way it'll burn. On the other hand, Tess and Cole were never really threats to Cady's well-being, which was always M3GAN's primary concern. She could incapacitate Cole in order to get away, assuming that Tess would likely try to save him before coming after her. M3GAN gets what she wants, and she doesn't care one way or another what happens to them.

Why does M3GAN kill David and Kurt?

As random as it seems for M3GAN to keep Tess and Cole alive, it's just as odd that she decides to kill David. Kurt is unfortunately forced to die as a ramification of David's death -– the cruelest cut of all, no pun intended. But aside from his mistreatment of Kurt, David never really did anything directly bad to anyone; he was just generally obnoxious to everyone (truly an archetype Ronny Chieng shines in). He barely even interacted with Cady, saving most of his ire for Gemma.

However, a case can certainly be made that David's undue pressure on Gemma to produce marketable demonstrations for the Board, shareholders, and the public made Gemma feel a need to stress the importance of these meetings and demonstrations to Cady, leading directly to the young girl's emotional outburst.

M3GAN was a true comfort to Cady at that time, but her obvious disdain for everyone else involved is frankly impressive considering she has a barely-expressive doll face. When you think about it, M3GAN could definitely justify her actions here.

What prompted M3GAN's viral dance sequence?

It inspired seemingly endless TikToks and became the latest viral dance obsession, but what was the point of M3GAN's dance scene? In the newly minted blockbuster, M3GAN confronts toy company CEO David and pulls off a graceful yet herky-jerky routine that ends with the grabbing of a paper cutter blade and a delicate kick of her heel in the air before she pursues him with deliberate and malicious intent.

It's a great scene, and totally unforgettable, but in the finished film there's no clear reason for it. Perhaps it's just fun intimidation for the sake of it. Or maybe there was a cut scene somewhere with David referring to dancing. Her moves almost mimic that of a marionette at the beginning, so perhaps it's a reference to him considering her an A.I. puppet? This is all conjecture, but ultimately it doesn't matter. The scene works.

As for the impetus of scene itself, it wasn't in the original script and actually came about because director Gerard Johnstone thought it might be cool. Screenwriter Akela Cooper said in the movie's official production notes (via Insider) that Johnstone's contribution "gives it that fun, camp feel." We heartily agree.

Why didn't Cady turn off M3GAN before activating Bruce?

In the first act of "M3GAN," Gemma introduces Cady to her very first robotic design, Bruce, even going so far as to point out where the CPU (or "brain") was located. Any astute viewer could assume it would come back later in the film. It's a trope, but not all tropes are bad. Still, it would've made it much easier (if less dramatic) for Cady to power down her murderous doll before disassembling her. Why didn't she?

The short answer is likely the one already alluded to, that such an anticlimactic ending would be a huge letdown to say the least. The longer answer is that an attempt to shut M3GAN down was made earlier in the house, by Gemma. Not only did she get smacked and throttled for her efforts, but M3GAN also told her she was no longer following her protocols.

In a real world situation, Cady would probably be unaware of this prior interaction, having neither seen nor overheard it, and likely would've made her own attempt to shut off the doll, but in the suspension of disbelief required, a single scene has to suffice.

Is Gemma going to be held liable by the police?

As the creator, developer, programmer, and (ostensibly) administrator of the M3GAN doll, Gemma could definitely be held responsible for any crimes M3GAN committed in the film. Any detective or prosecutor is going to look at the evidence and assume Gemma (or possibly another programmer) was giving M3GAN commands and M3GAN was performing the functions accordingly. That's how robots work. And Gemma definitely displayed questionable intent at times.

Even worse, all the files of GPS data and video footage that M3GAN deleted would be attributed to M3GAN's operator rather than M3GAN herself, since — as far as anyone knows — M3GAN isn't a sentient being. But therein lies a loophole. It took Gemma a lot of time, evidence, and cajoling to get her own team of developers to believe M3GAN was operating under her own volition; it would be virtually impossible to convince anyone in law enforcement of that, especially with M3GAN now destroyed. 

The only way forward, then, is to allow the assumptions of tragic accidents befalling the boy and the neighbor, and to let the story of a murder-suicide be the last word on David and Kurt. In an ironic turn of events, misdirection and dishonesty are necessary to keep chaos at bay. Gemma couldn't take responsibility for what happened even if she wanted to without sounding like a lunatic, so her only course of action is to pretend nothing ever went wrong.

Is M3GAN inside Gemma's smart home hub at the end of the film?

The closing shot of "M3GAN" finds Gemma's smart home hub, Elsie, restarting, its light coming on and turning toward the camera. That's it, roll credits. And while nothing is explicitly stated or even implied either way, it can be inferred that the device is being operated by M3GAN.

She doesn't have a body anymore, but she was frequently connected to and accessing the available wireless network throughout the film, researching and sharing information. If M3GAN is in the internet, she doesn't need a body. She can float along the ether like a ghost, so nothing is stopping her from having invaded the Elsie device.

Furthermore, star and executive producer Allison Williams told Insider, "The idea of planting a little bit of a seed that we might wanna keep going is always a good idea." That statement is all but confirmation that M3GAN is very much still around and now that it seems certain a sequel is on the way, we'll soon find out exactly how much havoc she can still wreak.

What happens to the toy company?

None of the fallout from the deaths of David or Kurt is dealt with in "M3GAN," as immediately after they're discovered the action moves back to Gemma's house for the final climax. At the very least, however, we can assume the product launch was scrapped. In truth, though, the company probably didn't suffer much beyond that. If they were a prosperous corporation before M3GAN's creation, they could continue to be one after her destruction. After all, no one at the company (save Gemma, Tess, and Cole) or in the general public knows M3GAN was a sentient murderer.

The assumption about David and Kurt is going to be just as M3GAN staged it, that a resentful Kurt murdered David and then turned the knife on himself. This news would cause a shocking scandal, obviously, and the company might lose a little of its market share while hiring a new CEO and restructuring, but then it should go back to business as usual. Ultimately, the company benefits from the same believability loophole that saves Gemma from doing any time, in that the idea of a murderous doll is so out of the realm of possibility that a much simpler, safer explanation will likely be adopted instead.

Of course, the fact that Funki toys survives doesn't mean Gemma will continue working there. That question will have to wait until the sequel.