With a Shonen Jump property as big as My Hero Academia is right now, it’s no surprise that a movie was incoming sooner or later. Well, that time is now. Is the movie Plus Ultra enough to stand alongside the awesome anime, or should it get failed out of the class for having no potential?
My Hero Academia the Movie: Two Heroes starts off with Izuku “Deku” Midoriya and Toshinori “All Might” Nagi visiting I-Island, a scientific paradise where crime is virtually non-existent, in order to attend a World Hero Expo to show off all the latest hero support tools and celebrate heroes in general. However, during the beginning of the Expo, a group of villains infiltrate the main tower and take the entire city hostage. With all the pro heroes, including All Might, taken out of commission, it’s up to Deku - along with Iida, Uraraka, Bakugo, Kirishima, Kaminari, Yayorozu, Todoroki, Jiro, Mineta, and newcomer Melissa Shield - to infiltrate the tower and take down the security barriers, free the pro heroes, and stop the villains before their ultimate plans come to fruition.
Just to note for newcomers to the franchise, the beginning of the film DOES explain the general concept of the show as well as the relationship between Deku and All Might. While the movie doesn’t outright explain the Quirks of the other members of Class 1-A, you’ll be able to pick up what everyone can do through the various battle scenes in the movie, at least the important characters, so if you’ve never seen the actual anime, don’t worry. You should be able to follow along well enough just fine.
Two Heroes, to put it simply, is a lot of fun to watch. The movie starts out with a very young All Might visiting California and capturing a couple of rogue villains in typical All Might fashion. It also serves as a good introduction to one of the central new characters in the movie, David Shield, and showcases his relationship with the hero before skipping to present day. This scene has a ton of fast-paced action with a lot of kinetic energy and sets the tone for the action in the rest of the film. It was also really nice to see a couple of American heroes, including one that seems to be slightly based on Black Lightning and another female hero that can shapeshift into a bull (possibly a mashup of Vixen and Beast Boy), plus get a really, really spiffy car from David that can attach a rocket booster and end up flying.
I will say that one thing that does kinda annoy me is that there’s no special title sequence. There is an info dump where Deku explains the premise of the series, but there’s no filter or image manipulation or opening song to set it apart, just scenes from the TV show with no editing followed by the Japanese logo on a white background. I freaking love awesome title sequences in movies, so seeing such a blah introduction is slightly disappointing, but I know most of you wouldn’t care one way or the other.
Anyway, the movie spends the rest of the first act on setup and info dumps, from why All Might was invited to the event to showing off everyone’s Quirks to getting everybody into place for the main plot to kick in. While it’s a bit contrived in places, the various members of Class 1-A show up out of nowhere one after another over the span of about 10 minutes, it does its job effectively and also serves as a decent introduction to David and Melissa Shield, the main one-timer characters for the movie. David and All Might do sound like good friends even though the former is never, ever brought up in the main series, while Melissa fits in very well with the gang, though I can see some who would complain that she’s a bit too “normal” compared to the outsized personalities in Class 1-A.
Once the plot kicks into gear and the villains take over the island, the tension does ramp up, but unfortunately the pacing suffers a bit. Most of the middle of the film is Deku and the gang traversing floor after floor, fighting off henchmen and security robots, and since they have to go up hundreds of floors manually, it can get kind of old seeing the characters have to find new ways to traverse every 5 minutes. It honesty feels like padding for the most part and seems to exist just to give the non-Deku characters something to do. I will say that the team does work well together and each member of the team, including Mineta, contributes in some way, so at least there is no useless member of the group. On the other hand, Todoroki and Bakugo have no less than three Big Damn Heroes moments each, which lessens the impact a bit after a while. The finale is a really awesome fight with a lot of really kickass moments, but it also loses a bit of impact because the Big Bad just absolutely refuses to go down no matter how many times he gets Smashed. Still, the final attack, which is something that could never, ever be reproduced in the anime or manga because of what happens in Season 3, is such a joy to watch that it makes up for the Big Bad refusing to go down again and again and again.
Also, All Might just straight up kills two of the henchmen almost offhandedly. None of the characters comment on that in the slightest and I find that morbidly hilarious.
By the way, for those who are curious, Tsuyu, Ashido, Hagakure, Shouji, Tokoyami, Sero, and Satou all have minor cameos in the movie and are kept away from the main action. None of them have more than 10 lines each and don’t interact with the rest of Class 1-A. Kouda and Ojiro don’t appear in the movie itself, but do show up as a silent cameo near the end of the end credits. Aoyama, for some reason, doesn’t appear in any way, shape, or form in the movie. None of the other Pro Heroes, such as Eraserhead or Endeavor, appear in the movie either, even in silent cameo form or flashbacks.
Unlike a lot of other Shonen Jump movies, where slightly different character designs are used compared to their TV counterparts, Two Heroes uses the same team that the main show uses. As a result, the visuals fit right in with the look of the show. The backgrounds aren’t anything too new, but the in-betweens are mostly fluid, emphasized during battles. There are a LOT of fights in this movie, and all of them are well animated, dynamic, and energetic, done in a similar style to the main series. In fact, that describes the animation perfectly. Just like the show, only on a much bigger budget. Unfortunately, there are some cut corners, particularly with wide shots. If a character has their full body on camera, there’s a good chance their face will just up and disappear. It happens all throughout the movie. There’s a scene early on with Deku and All Might talking and the only facial features either one of them have are their eyebrows. Their eyes, noses, and even their mouths are just straight up gone, and they don’t even animate their heads bobbing to simulate speech. Viewed on a TV screen when the movie comes out on Blu-ray you’ll probably forgive it, but it was pretty glaring to me watching it on a big ass movie screen, especially since I was sitting in one of the front rows. But the animation during the final battle is outright gorgeous and seemingly done by the same people who did All Might vs. Nomu in Season 1 and All Might vs. All For One in Season 3, so you know it’s amazing.
As for the audio, all of the returning characters from the main series retain their dub voice actors, so if you enjoyed them on television, you’ll just get more of that goodness here. It should come as no surprise that Chris Sabat as All Might and Justin Briner as Izuku are the stand-outs here, given that they have the most pivotal scenes to emote with. The main newcomers are Ray Chaste (Noctus in Final Fantasy XV) as David Shield, Erica Mendez (Ryuko in Kill la Kill) as David’s daughter Melissa, and Keith Silverstein (Char/Full Frontal in Gundam: The Origin/Gundam Unicorn) as the Big Bad. All three deliver typically great performances and feel right at home with the normal cast. One thing did bother me though. Maybe it was intentional with the script or whatever, but All Might tended to call Melissa by her name like normal instead of attaching “Young” in front of it like he does with the members of Class 1-A. For example, near the end of the film he says “Melissa and Young Midoriya.” Felt weird, is all. Sadly, much of the music is straight up recycled from the show, or if it was redone, it sounds the exact same. I was hoping we could get a really sweeping orchestral score like in the Pokémon movies, but alas, it was not to be. Still, the music fit the scenes just fine. The ending theme was pleasant to listen to, but was pretty unremarkable.
Unfortunately, the movie does suffer from Standard Shonen Movie Syndrome. If you have seen almost any shonen movie, from Naruto to One Piece to Fairy Tail, you can predict almost every plot point and surprise twist before it happens. The one plot twist that you likely won’t see coming feels like it’s a major shocker, but honestly doesn’t really do anything in the story but delay All Might a few minutes so that Deku can get a second wind and join up for a combo battle (Come on, did you really think the movie would waste a chance to have All Might and Deku battle side-by-side?). The only characters that get any development are Melissa and her father David, but not only does that come near the end of the film, but by that point the Big Bad starts launching his final attacks, so they get overshadowed by all the action really quick. As for the Big Bad, he is pretty standard fare. He’s evil and sadistic and that’s more or less all he is. He gets no background whatsoever, likewise his minions. Hell, I don’t even think the movie says his name on-screen, or if it does it’s so quick that most viewers will miss it (It’s Wolfram, by the way. Thanks, Wikipedia!). He basically exists for the good guys to fight and for David to learn a lesson.
One thing the movie does do well is blend in with the show from a continuity standpoint... kind of. The movie takes place between Seasons 2 and 3 (and there’s an episode of Season 3 that serves as a flashback prequel to the movie) and there’s nothing in the movie that contradicts Seasons 1 and 2. Everyone’s powers are consistent for the most part and are shown at their proper strength. The main exception is probably All Might, who stays in his muscle form far, far longer than he probably should (he starts smoking halfway through the movie, but doesn’t transform back until the very end of the movie), but you could argue that him overextending himself here could contribute to his performance against All for One in Season 3. But the background between David and All Might is very well done and serves as a logical explanation as to where All Might got his costumes from.
However, that easiness of sliding into continuity also serves as the movie’s greatest weakness. There are multiple plot points in this movie that, under internal story logic, should have been referenced or brought back in some form or fashion in Season 3 but are completely ignored for obvious meta reasons. The worst of these is the Full Gauntlet, the red arm brace Deku wears for most of the movie. Developed by Melissa, this gauntlet allows Deku to access the full 100% of One for All’s power into his arm without injuring it, which puts literally every single invention Mei Hatsume makes in the mainline show to shame. It makes no sense in-universe why Deku didn’t ask Melissa to make him more of these gauntlets because they work so damn well and could have completely negated the need for Deku’s Shoot Style in the latter half of Season 3.
Speaking of Mei, where the hell is she? This movie focuses a lot on support technology, even becoming the key plot points near the finale and exist so that both the Big Bad and Deku can be on All Might’s level, but for some reason the fan-favorite character who specializes in making support tech isn’t even mentioned throughout the entire film. I get that she might have broken the plot since she would have likely been able to break through the doors or stop the security robots, but I-Island in general was practically begging for her to be there, so the lack of her is a major missed opportunity.
I know it sounds like I didn’t like the movie, what with all my negatives and complaining and all, but I didn’t. It’s a really fun, 90-some-minute adventure with the My Hero Academia gang. Once the shine of its existence wears off, it may lose a bit of luster, but as long as you let yourself get absorbed by the plot and action, you’ll have a lot of fun with the movie. It doesn’t top Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods or The Last: Naruto the Movie in my personal Shonen Jump movie rankings, but My Hero Academia the Movie: Two Heroes is a rollicking good time and most fans will definitely be satisfied by this adventure. Hopefully Toonami will be able to show this in the future.