Films adapted from long running anime are often pretty limited in what they can accomplish, since they’re rarely allowed to have any lasting impact on the ongoing story. Up to this point, the My Hero Academia films have mitigated this by using their features to expand the history of the greater world. The third film, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission, pivots from this in favor of going on a globetrotting expansion of its main storyline and becomes the best X-Men film ever made, for better or worse.
Going On A Field Trip
Spinning out of the recently wrapped fifth season of the series, World Heroes’ Mission opens with our cast immediately in action. With the primary audience being long time fans this isn’t the worst execution, but fans will probably still be a little jarred without reading the preview manga chapter created for this film that wasn’t animated as a part of the season. (Thankfully the chapter is free to read here.) This is what’s mostly been seen in trailers and it’s quickly abandoned in place of what the film is actually going to spend most of the time.
World Heroes’ Mission spends a lot more time focused on main lead Deku and a new character he’s paired with named Rody following a failed attempt to stop a terrorist attack leads to both stumbling into a larger conspiracy involving the group behind the attacks. Forced to go on the run in a strange country, Deku is put on a road trip with Rody and learns about class conflict of all things.
Cultural Exchange Program
The main MHA series also deals with the societal issues created by its premise but this film is the first to identify that the very real divide between the haves and the have nots also applies to who actually gets to be saved by heroes. Unfortunately, this is also where the film strains the hardest, because it is not properly equipped to handle the topic it has placed in the audience’s lap. Deku couldn’t really change Rody’s situation if he wanted to and despite being a much more empathetic character than your average Shonen Jump lead, he doesn’t seem very interested in trying.
Additionally, while MHA is usually quite good at handling an ensemble, World Heroes’ Mission narrows focus and leaves most of Deku’s class on the sidelines. Most of the fan favorites appear for a handful of scenes at least but compared to the previous film Heroes Rising, few of them get to shine. The villains don’t fare much better. A cult of anti-superpowered terrorists gives vibes of the 1982 X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills and is appropriately threatening throughout but individually there’s not a whole lot there beyond surface-level design. The organization’s leader is a genuine threat but isn’t that interesting as a character, even as they borrow motivations from a character in the main series.
Fireworks Do Go Off
Eventually the film finds its footing and gets back to what films like this do best – show off a slightly larger animation budget. My Hero Academia very rarely looks bad week to week, but it’s clear that the team at Bones was ready to bring their top tier game to the film. The series finally gets a chance to replicate a favorite hero of its creator in a great chase sequence and Bakugo gets not one but two particularly stellar fight scenes that showcase why MHA does a spectacular job with the various powers it puts forth.
The leaned down story and increased stakes also make this film a pretty easy entry point or one off watch for the curious. There are cool characters doing cool things in a fight to preserve their right to exist, and most Marvel fans at least can have a good time with that, especially with the aforementioned X-Men energy. There’s no need to get into the weeds of Deku’s backstory or replay huge chunks of the main series to be able to follow and enjoy the spectacle.
Really, that’s all one can expect from a film in this case. When playing to its origin series’ strengths, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission is a great excuse to spend a little more time with this world before the wait for next season. When it’s trying to dive deeper, however, it finds that some problems simply cannot be punched through. Once the smoke clears, some of the world’s issues are still going to be there and require a different kind of action – and that’s some real X-Men energy.