The world’s greatest superhero All Might and his young protégée Izuku Midoriya jet off to a man-made island of scientists in Two Heroes, the first feature-length instalment of hit Studio Bones anime My Hero Academia.
Helmed by regular series director Kenji Nagasaki, the film opens with an action-packed flashback to All Might’s early years as a hero, before shifting the action to the present day as he and Midoriya arrive on futuristic I-Island for the I-Expo – the world’s leading exhibition of Quirk abilities and hero equipment. There the pair meet up with genius scientist David Shield, All Might’s old buddy and American sidekick. They also encounter his 17-year-old daughter Melissa, who was born Quirkless like Deku and aspires to follow in her pop’s footsteps by inventing cool support items for superheroes.
Fortunately for My Hero Academia fans, Midoriya isn’t the only member of Class 1-A to have made it to I-Island, with the likes of Uraraka, Bakugō, Todoroki, Kirishima, Jirō, Yaoyorozu and class president Iida all set on attending the expo’s preview opening. Mineta and Kaminari are also on the island working as waiters – although kind-hearted Melissa sorts them out with expo tickets too, despite the duo being their usual lechy selves.
Visiting I-Island for a much more nefarious purpose are mysterious villain Wolfram and his team of tough mercenaries. After hacking the island’s top-of-the-range security system to put All Might and his fellow pro superheroes out of action, Wolfram takes David and his assistant Sam hostage in order to break into the island’s vault. However, he’s reckoned without Deku and friends, who decide to escort Melissa to the security room so that she can regain control of the system. The only problem? It’s at the very top of 200-storey tower overrun by malicious mercs and rogue robots.
If that makes Two Heroes sound like My Hero Academia meets Die Hard …well, it kinda is. It’s also pretty darn fun, especially once the punches – and, unusually for My Hero Academia, bullets – start flying. The animation of the fight scenes is noticeably superior to most of those in the TV series, especially the extended battle that serves as the film’s finale (and which also sees the welcome return of iconic show theme song ‘You Say Run’ ). It’s also a blast to get a glimpse of All Might back in his salad days, before he had to bother about pesky time limits and whatnot.
Another plus is having so many of Deku’s classmates rock up on I-Island alongside him. Is it a contrived coincidence? Absolutely! However, it just wouldn’t feel like My Hero Academia without the show’s colourful cast of supporting characters. Bakugō, Todoroki, Kirishima, Jirō, Yaoyorozu, Iida and Uraraka (who is not happy to see Midoriya hanging out with the pretty Melissa) each get meaningful screen time, while most of the remainder of Class 1-A – including Ashido, Hagakure and our froggy fave Tsuyu – at least make cameo appearances.
Set between the second and third seasons of the TV show, Two Heroes also does existing fans a solid by frontloading all of its backstory, keeping exposition mercifully brief while still giving newcomers a handle on the My Hero Academia universe. And although the film is essentially a standalone affair, director Kenji Nagasaki does integrate it into the wider storyline through episode 58 of the TV anime, which features All Might receiving his invitation to I-Expo from Melissa and asking Midoriya to accompany him.
Spin-off films of big shonen franchises have been somewhat hit-or-miss historically, so it’s both a pleasure and a relief to see My Hero Academia hit the ground running with its debut feature. Sporting a snappy 97-minute runtime, Two Heroes is a fun-filled, fast-paced romp that succeeds in bringing the magic of My Hero Academia to the big screen.