In the modern dog-eat-dog world of supervillains, it's all about staying one step ahead of the competition. And one of the world's most successful, and despicable, is Gru*. Not that he showed any signs of it in his youth. All he ever wanted to do as a boy was to be an astronaut, and go to the moon. But with a mother like his, and an apparently absent father, poor little boy Gru's dreams were repeatedly crushed, setting the stage for a life of villainy. Gru and his mother clearly are not native to the United States (where they live), and their broken English accent would seem to indicate that they originated from somewhere in central to southeastern Europe.
(* Gru is actually his last name. Officially, Gru's first name is "Felonius", as seen on the computer screen during the background check Miss Hattie conducts on him. His birth date is also given there, in the background information, as September 28, 1960. Which would make him eight years old when the minions first arrive in America, and nine years old during the moon mission which he became so obsessed with as a boy.)
In his life, Gru has made quite a success of being a most despicable supervillain, setting his sights on really, really big capers designed to generate fear and respect. Of course, he had to start somewhere...and that somewhere was in London, in the United Kingdom in 1968. There, at the tender age of eight, he pulled off a daring caper by snatching the royal British crown out from the clutches of the greatest super villain of the time, Scarlet Overkill, who herself was attempting to steal it for her own nefarious purposes (and he did so with the help of the freeze ray he and his mother had purchased earlier from Dr. Nefario at Villain-Con). In later years, he set his sites gradually higher: Las Vegas, for example, where he managed to steal the miniature versions of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. In time, he moved onto bigger targets, and this brought him more noteworthy successes--such as the Times Square Jumbotron! Gru also loves all of the high-tech vehicles, gadgets and weapons which he uses in his trade, most of which have been either provided and/or invented by Dr. Nefario.
Above: Eight-year-old Gru, in an audacious and daring move, swipes the British royal crown from the clutches of super villain Scarlet Overkill, after some very creative use of Dr. Nefario's freeze ray. Thus he began a very successful career as a super villain in his own right.
But just as in other facets of life, young up-and-coming go-getters will rock the boat...and one day one particular fellow really rocked Gru's boat. The super-smart, but rather nerdy young supervillain calling himself "Vector" stole the Great Pyramid of Giza, which made all other villainous acts pale by comparison. Not to be deterred, Gru revived an old plot of his which would cast the pyramid theft under it's shadow forever...to steal the moon! With his faithful and inventive assistant Dr. Nefario, and his army of little yellow minions, he set his plan in motion...
...just as three little girls came knocking on his door, looking to sell him some cookies. And those three little girls (Margo, Edith and Agnes) changed his life forever...stirring in him some latent goodness. Gru, you see, was never truly evil, even if he was rather despicable. The girls brought out the good in him, and it wasn't long before Gru was not only adopting them as their new father, but falling in love with a lady spy whom the girls saw to it that he'd happily marry.