My Hero Academia is a great series that, unlike everyone else out there, I only got into in October. A series about a world where superpowers (quirks) are widespread raises many questions, the greatest of which is “What is a hero?” To answer that, I want to talk about two heroes—All Might and Endeavor.
Warning—Spoilers Will Follow
At the start of the series, All Might was the #1 hero. He served as a symbol of hope and peace for the people, filling a role similar Captain America and Superman in Marvel and DC comics, respectively. His public persona was that of pure, unadulterated goodness. He kept the people at ease with his kindness, his skill, and his smile. By always keeping a smile, All Might was able to keep people at ease in a scary world.
All Might’s quirk is called “One for All.” One for All’s an inherited quirk that All Might received from his mentor. For All Might, this quirk provided him super strength and speed. The quirk also transformed his body into a “superhero form” reminiscent of classic heroes like Superman or Shazam.
What the public did not know was that All Might was physically weak when not in hero form. When not using his powers, All Might’s body is frail and not strong enough for a fight with any villain.
After a battle with All for One prior to the start of the series, All Might suffered serious injuries. When All for One returned, All Might won the day, but his injury became critical. All Might became too weak to publicly serve as a hero. Someone else needed to fill the mantle of public icon of peace and hope.
Until All Might’s injury, Endeavor was the #2 hero. Endeavor focused on power above all else. While also supernaturally strong and quick, Endeavor’s quirk was fire based called “Hellfire.” Endeavor had a wide range of powers that stem from his ability to generate and control flames.
Endeavor’s focus on power led to his marriage to Rei, who has an ice-based quirk. The marriage was mostly centered around eugenics—an attempt to create a “better” generation of super-powered beings through selective breeding. Endeavor may have once cared for Rei, but his actions were abusive toward her and their children.
He used Rei as a tool to create new children who could surpass himself and All Might. Endeavor then cast aside his children who did not live up to his expectations. When Endeavor was not absent, he was mentally abusive to his children. His behavior led Rei to have a mental break that only in the current story has she begun to recover.
Endeavor wanted to be the best or for his children to be the best. He believed through increased strength, he could surpass All Might. He believed that strength made the hero—he was wrong.
A New Number 1
After All Might’s forced retirement, Endeavor became the #1 hero. Not through strength, but by luck.
In his assumption of the mantle of #1 hero, Endeavor had to think about his past. He had to consider his actions going forward. He had to consider what kind of hero he wanted to be.
Until that point, Endeavor’s sole focus was on surpassing All Might. Without that motivator, part of him felt lost. In a moment of introspection, Endeavor asked All Might for advice on what made him the symbol of peace.
His answer? It did not matter what All Might had done—Endeavor and All Might are not the same people. For Endeavor to be a new symbol of hope and peace would require something different. What would make him not just a hero, but the hero?
Subsequent chapters show Endeavor’s attempted redemption. He attempted to mend the broken relationships with his wife and children while he showed a more selfless version of himself to the public. Endeavor takes All Might’s wisdom to heart and considered what he needed to do to be better. Not stronger, but a true hero.
All Might and Endeavor. David and Saul.
These two heroes remind me of two Biblical competitors—David and Saul.
David put his people ahead of himself—always. He was inspiring and optimistic. David encouraged others, including Saul, to do the right thing. The Bible’s filled with his encouraging words and actions.
David was not perfect, far from it. David was an adulterer and murderer (2 Samuel 11). Yet, David kept at his core a sense of humility and selflessness that allowed him to be the hero the people needed.
In the Biblical example, the selfless encourager ultimately won the day to become the King. In My Hero Academia, the power driven hero won the day. What can Endeavor do to bridge that gap?
Selflessness was the common characteristic shared by David, traditional comic heroes, and All Might. A hero puts others before themselves.
When Endeavor puts himself second and others first, he becomes the hero he needs to be. When his focus was self-centered, he failed.
Eugenics was not the way to make a better future; instead, he needed to be a good and present father to his children.
Power was not the way to be a better hero; Endeavor needed to be willing to sacrifice his pride, power, and whole self for the sake of others.
When we see Endeavor put his pride aside and serve, the people respond to it. I, as a reader, responded to it.
Here was a character we were shown with frightening dark side.
A hero who was an abusive father and husband.
A hero focused on power.
A hero focused on himself.
Yet, redemption came.
As the series progresses, I find myself more and more intrigued by Endeavor as a character.
Yes he failed, but so have I.
Yes, he relied too much on his own power. So have I.
Can Endeavor be the hero the world needs? Time will tell, but I believe in the power of redemption and if Endeavor continues to seek it through humility, he may just find himself deserving the title of #1 Hero.
BENEATH THE TANGLES RECOMMENDS MY HERO ACADEMIA. IT CAN BE READ DIGITALLY AT SHONEN JUMP.