From Bond to Batman, villains may not always win the day but they certainly conquer the audience.
Despicable Me finally gives the bad guys the world domination they've been craving, in a witty, snappy and ludicrously slapstick family comedy that spends as much time poking fun at its audience as most family comedies do pandering to it.
In a world refreshingly free of chisel-jawed, interfering superheroes, big-time uber-baddie Gru (Carell) is more content with spending his days taking candy from babies than reaffirming his reputation as the World's No. 1 Villain.
But when an audacious pretender to the crown steals the Great Pyramid of Giza, it becomes apparent that Gru has maybe been spending a little too long lazing on his massively oversized throne, counting his bullions/minions.
When new wunderkind on the block Vector foils/blows him up at every turn, Gru rallies his minion mini-army and soon realises he'll need the unlikely help of three little orphan sisters if has any hope of reclaiming his evil crown.
By mashing the character-driven, colourful originality of Disney with the inventive ridiculousness of countless Looney Tunes, Universal have introduced a fresh, unique and madcap story into a genre already overflowing with Pixar pretenders.
Gru and Vector's ongoing rivalry results in numerous fantastically imaginative firefights to entertain the kids - an evil Wallace & Gromit by way of the Incredibles gives some idea as to the tone - and the Minions are a masterclass in Happy Meal marketing (seriously, even we came out wanting one).
But with a directorial duo who have cut their teeth on Horton Hears a Who! and Ice Age, there are more than enough sight gags and quippy asides to amuse the adults (a visual Lehman Brothers gag proving a subtle but timely highlight).
Throw in a feelgood soundtrack, some effective 3D, and the best slap-headed uber-villain since Dr Evil, and you've got a recipe for worldwide box office domination.