A mysterious vehicle using a huge magnet steals a highly potent mutagen known as PX-41 from a secret laboratory in the Arctic Circle. The Anti-Villain League (AVL), headed by Silas Ramsbottom, tries to recruit former supervillain Gru to track down those responsible and recover the mutagen, but Gru refuses, claiming that he is now a legitimate businessman as well as the devoted father of Margo, Edith, and Agnes. Dr. Nefario, Gru’s friend and assistant, “misses being evil” and leaves Gru for new employment. Gru reluctantly agrees to investigate the theft, and is partnered with undercover AVL agent Lucy Wilde.
On Bird Island, an island inhabited by flightless birds, the reclusive Red is sentenced to anger management classes after his temper causes a “premature hatching” of a customer’s egg. Resentful, Red avoids getting to know his classmates Chuck, Bomb, Terence and the instructor Matilda. One day, a boat docks at the island’s shore. It carries green-colored pigs, who claim to be peaceful explorers bringing offerings of friendship, and are accepted on the island. They introduce the birds to innovative technologies such as slingshots and helium balloons.
Gru, a supervillain, has his pride injured when an unknown supervillain steals the Great Pyramid of Giza, an action that is described by his colleague Dr. Nefario as “making all other villains look lame”. Gru decides to do better, with the assistance of Dr. Nefario, by shrinking and stealing the Moon, an idea based on his childhood dream of being an astronaut, which was always disparaged by his mother Marlena. The plan is expensive and Gru seeks a loan from the Bank of Evil, where the president Mr. Perkins is impressed by the plan, but will only provide the money if Gru can obtain the necessary shrink ray first.
In a suburban San Fernando Valley garden in Los Angeles, Theo, a.k.a. Turbo, is a garden snail who dreams of being the greatest racer in the world, just like his hero, 5-time Indianapolis 500 champ, Guy Gagné. His obsession with speed and all things fast has made him an outcast in the slow and cautious snail community, and a constant embarrassment to his older brother, Chet. Turbo desperately wishes he could escape the slow-paced life he’s living, but his one chance to live proves a near fatal disaster when he tries to recover a prize tomato and needs to be rescued by Chet.