First, grab yourself a large bowl, preferably one the size of a mobile, self-sufficient island. Next, your going to want to throw in a few helpings of Heroes, with some innocent citizens added for good measure. Carefully raise the stakes with an important scientific expo and then let everything rest for about half an hour. If you followed the steps correctly, you should see a world threatening disaster form; however, don’t panic, this is what we were looking for. Place the finished product in a cinema and enjoy.
Okay, so I know this isn’t technically part of the My Hero Academia season, but given the lead-in episode we watched, I felt it fair enough game to cover. Also, I kinda just wanted to talk about it…sue me. Anyway, Two Heroes sees us follow up with the newly mentioned legend of one David Shield, scientist extraordinaire and former partner to All Might. Invited as a surprise by David’s daughter Melissa, our Symbol of Peace finds himself swarmed by an adoring public and a rather awestruck best bud. Though far from a new concept, it is nice to see All Might shine outside of combat situations. With the power to punch almost any threat into submission, it can be easy to overlook the fact that All Might’s charisma is what separates him from his peers. His mere presence is enough to change the mood of an entire island of people and, on a more personal note, bring a smile to his friend’s face. And there’s no way that I’m going to forget how Melissa adorably refers to the world’s Number One Hero as Uncle Might. It is cute and charming and I will fight anyone who disagrees.
Despite the inciting incident for this film being All Might’s invitation to I-Island, it is still very much a tale revolving around the generation to which we have become accustomed. With Midoriya seemingly the only member of Class 1-A in attendance of the rather prestigious I-Expo, he/we soon learn/s that a number of his friends have also made their way to the island. Though most definitely appearing to appease the fans, the film at least presents viable reasons as to why those who are present…are present. Yaoyorozu because of family connections, Jiro and Uraraka because of Yaoyorozu (and a brutal game of Scissors, Paper, Rock between the other girls), Mineta and Kaminari because of a part-time job, Todoroki because of Endeavour, Iida because of his family, Bakugo because he won the U.A. Sports Festival and Kirishima because of Bakugo. The other students also appear sporadically, although they ultimately serve no purpose and seemingly show up just so they don’t feel left out. Except for Aoyama…he never shows up. Poor guy. Regardless, I did appreciate the effort that went into explaining this coincidental series of events, following in step with what has already been established about the characters and their individual lifestyles and achievements. I mean, it would be pretty hypocritical to be mad about, considering we were all probably fine with All Might bringing Midoriya along.
Despite the holiday vibe brought about by a bundle of our favourite characters hanging around an island with a very carnival feel, this isn’t exactly a happy jaunt through the wider world of My Hero. Just when you think we’re going to see everybody kick of their Sunday shoes, BAM! Villains. And not just any Villains, these ones have guns. I know that might sound mundane in a world with Quirks, but their is something more real about seeing a gang of thugs carrying rifles…probably because those are actually real and we have those in this world. It’s also a rather unexpected first for the series, as is it when said thugs openly fire on Midoriya. Sure he manages to dodge with Full Cowling, but still, it’s more than a little frightening. This is doubly true of when the main Villain, Wolfram, seemingly shoots dead a man with whom he allied. It is almost immediately revealed that said shot was not fatal, but for a hot second there I honestly believed we had witnessed our first cold-blooded murder in the series. As dark as it may sound, I still wish I had, as that would have given the Villain something that no other had held before: No nonsense brutality. All For One is scary and all, but their is still a childishness to his actions. His petty hatred of All Might reeks of petulance and cements his place amongst his lessers and rivals. Wolfram needed the edge taken from him, because without it…he really only exists to set the stage for the final battle.
However, before we get to that battle, I want to talk about the mastermind of this film: David Shield. As is not so hard to ascertain, David himself is intricately inked with the plot of the film. That being said, his motivations were honestly interesting and more conflicted than the usual good-guy-gone-bad sort. As is shown when analysing All Might’s deteriorating condition, David is immensely affected by the thought of a world without the Symbol of Peace. So much so, that his orchestration of the I-Island takeover was in an effort to reacquire a Quirk-enhancing helmet he developed. Taken from him by higher-up who deemed it too dangerous, David believed a false assault on the island to be his only option. Of course, he was betrayed by his associate and the actors he hired (who turned out to be real Villains), thus resulting in our final act and two painfully accurate gunshots. Basic Villains aside, David’s growing fear of losing All Might is a notion we are all very familiar with. Still, the perspective of All Might’s friend, of a man who affectionately calls the world’s greatest champion “Toshi”, is a painfully personal one. The scene I mentioned earlier, of analysing All Might’s Quirk, is far less futuristic than it may sound. It isn’t an interested party curious about the decline of an overwhelming force, nor is it an unbiased description of what we all know will come to pass. Instead, it plays out like somebody learning of a loved one’s illness. The pain and fear David expresses in that moment alone is enough to give credence to his actions, at least to some extent. And though the film does strive for a more typically Shonen message of passing the baton to the next generation, it’s still hard to hate the man who would willingly throw away his career, and perhaps even his life, just to help his friend and do what he thinks is best for the world.
But this is still a Shonen movie and you can bet your bottom and top dollars that there are some fight scenes all around it. Utilising the powerhouses it plopped on the island, the film grants Bakugo and Todoroki multiple chances to showcase their Quirks. Though lacking his gauntlets, Bakugo never lets up with the explosions and rams his frantic, yet tactical energy into each fight. Todoroki also slings ice like an absolute champion, although one decidedly cool moments sees him simply ignite a Villain who had inadvertently covered his hands in Bakugo’s sweat. Equal parts awesome and funny, it definitely sparks an interest in seeing the various ways our cast might combine their Quirks. Though not really explored any further, the film’s climax definitely references this concept with what is one of the coolest strikes in the history of the series: Double Detroit Smash. Equal parts All Might and Midoriya, this unified assault is supremely satisfying to watch and just as amazing as you imagine. With the level of animation reserved for the series’ most important bouts to please our eyes, the beats of You Say Run to please our ears and the synchronised voices of our Symbol and protagonist to get our blood pumping, everything about this sequence is triumphant. But above even all that, it’s fun. It’s Heroes beating a Villain and, for a brief moment, intricate plans and motivations are flushed from our minds, leaving only the simple act of witnessing good mop the floor with evil. As it always should.
And though that would be an excellent note to leave on, I’m not going to, because that isn’t the message of this film. Though David’s motivations were understandable, he is reminded by All Might of one simple fact he overlooked: His daughter. More than just his child, Melissa is one who will continue the work of those who came before her, as will all of the children who aspire to greater things. Is it a corny message? You betcha, but damn if it isn’t a nice one. All Might is the Symbol of Peace and his absence will be felt, but just as there were Heroes before him, there will be Heroes after. And whilst the larger plot may place Midoriya in our line of sight, the message spreads further. The film isn’t called Two Heroes for no reason. Despite being Quirkless, Melissa holds her own and, in some way, represents the percentage of the world our story seldom looks at. Midoriya’s induction into the world of Quirks kicked off our story all that time ago, his sadness and lack of confidence relegating Quirklessness to a sad corner of the world. To her credit, Melissa remains strong despite the hardships piled upon her, even suggesting that Midoriya meant to thank her when the latter was apologising for not being able to protect her. It’s a simple moment, but one that simultaneously expresses the presence of those believed to have been dealt a bad hand in life and forces Midoriya to rethink his attitude. Although born of his own experience and inherent nature, it is interesting to see the notion of what it is to be strong constantly challenged. After all, had their perceptions never changed, both Melissa and Midoriya would have been two very different, very broken people. And that’s just not fun for anybody.
And thus, through the power of teamwork, a pile-up of evil (and not-so-evil) gambits and the physical strength necessary to reduce metal to a sparkling dust on the wind, the day is saved. Now, is it true that Wolfram was a flat Villain? Yes. However, the last minute inclusion of All For One in the story, having gifted Wolfram a second Quirk for the sole purpose of expediting David’s fall from grace, was a nice touch. For that reason alone, it never mattered who aided David in his plan, as they were always a means to a much larger end…if one can call ultimate pettiness a larger end. Said notion also ties this film further into the story of My Hero proper and crafts a basis for its message to be pondered alongside what we find in each episode. Though Shonen film tropes permeate its run-time, such as the suspiciously effective and limited-use Full Gauntlet, or the timely appearances of familiar faces, they are still not enough to detract from the experience. Okay, so maybe they might hamper your vibe if you were looking for a brutal, down-to-earth tale of good intentions and the roads they pave, but you were probably out the second two bald eagles flew across the screen. As I’m sure everybody is sick of me saying, My Hero Academia is, at its heart, a simply uplifting affair. Though evil weaves its way through the world, the hope that it will be beaten back never wanes. The narration from day one has been from the future after all, a glorious future in which Deku stands as the world’s greatest Hero. A fture which I would very much like to see.