MY HERO ACADEMIA’s first major film, MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES, had fight scenes so incredible fans were standing up. I kid you not when I say every punch, every kick, every “Detroit Smashhhhhh!” led to excited screams from the audience. This is the movie’s greatest strength, and one of many. Animation toward the major fights mimicked some of the best in MY HERO ACADEMIA. But, as with every great series, this one is not immune from critique. I want to join the crowds praising this movie like a God and highlighting solely its merits. I would be remiss, however, if I did not make one thing incredibly clear. What quickly established itself as this film’s greatest strength was also the most pernicious weakness.

A Mixed Setup

Rather than make an effort to establish a unique, fleshed out, and engaging story, MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES neglected itself. The villains of the film hardly make on-screen appearances until over an hour in. For a move with a 96-minute runtime, this is somewhat damning.

All Might in MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES
Don’t make movies with weak plots, only villains do that. | Image: Funimation

In a movie meant to showcase the bond between two characters like All Might and Midoriya while introducing new ones, it can be difficult to show off everyone. The film doesn’t attempt to show off each and every MY HERO ACADEMIA character, not even every student. And this is a good decision. It’s one that made me anticipate something much better than what I received. But MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES works out to be an 80-minute agonizingly slow buildup with an explosive 10/10 final 16-minute conclusion.

I broadly have three issues with the film. The pace felt dragging, character exposition shallow, and mystery creation weak. In an interesting twist, a lot of the issues I have with MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES are the same issues I had with the anime’s most recent filler episode.

Ridiculous Pace

This is a problem that is by no means unique to MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES. But, its commonality does not excuse the movies suffering from it. If every shonen movie has issues with movies feeling like worse, long filler with occasionally good animation, maybe the issue is systemic. But one thing loyal fans will notice is especially annoying in MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES is the number of flashbacks. Some degree of explanation about the world and Quirks is helpful, maybe. Personally, I don’t think there’s much reason to cater to someone with no idea about the series. Basic things, like Midoriya being born Quirkless or One for All passing via inheritance, should be well known prior to the film. And if not, it becomes pretty obvious that Midoriya’s Quirk works exactly that way just ten minutes into the film.

Midoriya and All Might in MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES
Did we really need to see this entire scene again? | Image: Funimation

MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES presupposed itself at one of the most intimate experiences with All Might and Midoriya we’re bound to see. So much time in the beginning, however, is spent exploring I Island and looking at technology. This is great, but none of it becomes all that relevant to the plot. Expository details about the movie’s world felt “neat.” But not much more than that. In the first half hour, villains appear on screen twice. Twice. And both times last for about 6 seconds at the most.

The redeeming portions of the movie’s earliest sections were the gag scenes. Classic jokes like Uraraka getting jealous of Midoriya hanging around other girls, or Bakugo being Bakugo are great. But it was unclear where we were going or why.

Underdeveloped Antagonists

Without spoiling anything, I will say this about the villains. Throughout the film, I had no clue at all what any kind of motivation was. Even making some sort of effort to make villainous actions toward the beginning of the film feel meaningful would have worked well. Now, this is not to say that the fighting against the villain wasn’t spectacular. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s been clear in trailers and previews that All Might and Midoriya take down the big bad together. And let me tell you, it looked and felt incredibly badass. Like Todoroki vs Midoriya during the sports festival badass. The villains had some incredible Quirks, making for great combat. Plenty of sakuga moments with brief jumps in animation were common. Even minute details like hair moving in the wind or acceleration being relative were in there.

A villain from MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES
It was disappointing to see underdeveloped villains. | Image: Funimation

But the villains without those fights are just impossible to get behind. Even toward the very end, it was difficult to care. MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES must have realized this too. There are several thrown together tragic little moments for a few people as a way to bring the feels out in fans. But even this felt…cursory. Like its only purpose was to put all the parts of what would normally be a well-developed villain somewhere onscreen.

That being said, I am somewhat satisfied with the way things turned out, if only for the fight. But, I just as easily could have skipped the first hour of the film.

Poor Mystery

This part was maybe a bit more disappointing. The ending of the movie is somewhat foreseeable rather early in. It’s not immediately obvious what the super small details end up being, but no “big reveal” is quite as shocking as I expect it should’ve been. And a bit too much time was spent trying to incorporate the whole cast of characters and give everyone a place in the story as it evolved.

Bakugo and Todoroki in MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES
Shippers are gonna have a field day with this movie. | Image: Funimation

At the very least, it made for some interesting causes of the fight because that’s really all the movie was. The mystery was essentially crafted to create the last fight. Every detail felt extraneous for every purpose except for “Wow, this would make for a really boss final battle.”

There isn’t too much more to say about this element without spoiling a lot. But, like the special episode a few weeks ago, the mystery felt poorly constructed. When there were twists and turns, they didn’t feel properly linked. Usually, a mystery is a trail of breadcrumbs with a difficult path to follow. This one at times felt like a giant “here’s the twist” sign and other times like looking for a black flag in the dark.

MY HERO ACADEMIA: TWO HEROES is Good, but not Godly

Despite my issues with the film, I would still definitely recommend it. If only for the absolutely amazing ending, you should go and see it. In no way am I unhappy that I spent the time watching it. I left the theater pretty satisfied. But this film, in my opinion, is not the 7.7 IGN gave it, and it damn near is not the 99% that Google ratings would have you believe it to be.

The movie suffers from problems that are endemic to just about every single shonen series out there. But, I thought that maybe MY HERO ACADEMIA would manage to escape those common problems. It did so in the anime, so it seemed possible for a film as well. But, like nearly every shonen movie out there, the movie felt like a long filler episode established solely for the purpose of justifying a well animated, explosive final fight.

In terms of a rating, I would give this movie a 6.5 /10. I would definitely see it again were it on, say, Crunchyroll or Netflix. I personally hate the voices of the dub, and would for sure want to see the subbed version instead. But, whatever language you watch it in, the animation quality is there. I only wish I could realistically say the majority of the film was well done.

Featured image from Funimation.

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