My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission 2021 Movie Review
By now, fans should know the drill about a new My Hero Academia movie. No matter how exciting or surprising it is, it has zero repercussions for the larger story and is forgotten as soon as the next episode airs. Still, World Heroes’ Mission out-Marvels the MCU in terms of heart and even visuals, with some of the best and most visually stunning moments not only in the franchise, but superhero film as a whole. Make no mistake, this is not a newbie-friendly movie, but if you are a fan of My Hero Academia, this is a crowning cinematic achievement for the popular franchise worthy of the biggest screen possible.
In a world where 80% of the population has a superpower, we finally get an anti-quirk villainous group, with the Humarize planning to target heroes with bombs that disperse a venomous gas that only kills those with powers because they believe Quirks will cause a doomsday. In the middle of this, we find Izuku Midoriya, who is on the run after being mistakenly accused of mass murder and has to avoid both the cops and the terrorist group while trying to stop them from killing all pro-heroes.
From the start, World Heroes’ Mission uses its villains to embark on a darker journey that challenges its view on heroes and quirks, elevating it beyond just a side story and basically entering X-Men territory — specifically X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, which served as the main inspiration for X2. Humarize works because they go against the show’s usual positivity in regards to quirks and superpowers. There are even a few villains with powers in the terrorist group, adding to the ideological threat they pose — the belief that quirks are inherently a mistake. It also helps that the villains reside in a H.R. Giger-esque lair.
My Hero Academia creator Kōhei Horikoshi is widely known as a fan of Marvel comics, and nowhere is that more evident than in the way World Heroes’ Mission captures the heart of early Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Spider-Man comics. That’s not only due to Deku’s new slinging power, but mostly in the film’s grounded approach to character, and its sheer optimism in the face of great stakes. Also like Silver Age comics, the film introduces several heroes with ridiculous yet delightful quirks, like the return of Godzillo, the kaiju hero, or a hero with the power of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Where World Heroes’ Mission really excels is in its visuals. Yutaka Nakamura’s impact animation shines through, with some of the most hard-hitting, grounded, and fluid animated fight sequences of the year. There’s even a scene storyboarded to emulate a long take that shows how much the superhero genre thrives in animation. The camera is constantly moving, flying between punches and rotating around our heroes in intricate sequences, as the fights match the stakes of the story with a surprising amount of blood and serious injuries. We also get Deku at his most powerful since his fight versus Overhaul. This culminates in a new ultimate power that’s a moment of pure fan service as roaring as seeing Captain America pick up Mjølnir.
Still, no matter how exciting or entertaining the film is, it cannot escape the fact that it’s designed to work as a standalone movie, isolated from the canon. As high as the stakes get, there are no consequences for the future of the franchise, making it all less impactful. It’s also frustrating since the current villains of the show are nowhere near as intimidating as a group that places bombs all over the world that can instantly kill all the heroes.
My Hero Academia World Heroes’ Mission represents the best and the worst of the franchise’s cinematic output: it’s gorgeous to look at, offers fantastic moments of fan service that work wonders on the big screen, and soaring high stakes that make for a thrilling experience that is ultimately, well, kind of meaningless since it’s not technically canon. If you expect this to be an important chapter in the larger story of Deku, you’ll be disappointed, but if you get over that fact, this is My Hero Academia at its most exhilarating and fun.