What Marvel And DC Comics Can Learn From My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia Opening

My Hero Academia is one of the most popular animes and mangas you will find on the market. At the beginning of April Viz Media announced that My Hero Academia has sold over five million printed copies of the series total 26 volumes thus far. That is an incredible milestone for the franchise as it hits its sixth anniversary later this year. The numbers are likely higher if you factor in digital print and how much of a sales driver the series is for the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine that publishes individual chapters of My Hero Academia weekly.

Here in the United States the series has found a strong connection with people through both the anime and manga. It hits on the fascination we have with superheroes, which has only grown thanks to things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With My Hero Academia’s success around the world there are a lot of things that both Marvel and DC Comics, the two biggest superhero comics publishers, can learn. 

FOCUS ON CHARACTERS NOT DESIGNS

My Hero Academia Class 1-A

U.A. High School Class 1-A’s hero costumes. Click for full-page view.

Like most comics and mangas My Hero Academia has its fair share of designs where we see that accentuate the character’s “assets,” as with Momo Yaoyorozu and Midnight. But while we do see characters with superhero costumes that play off their sex appeal Kōhei Horikoshi actually works that into part of the characters overall development. As we learn when our young leads get their first hero costumes, the costumes themselves are made to maximize their respective powers. In establishing that Horikoshi makes the hero costume not just something that is supposed to be cool. It is something that we see be a part of the development Izuku Midoriya and his classmates go through as their understanding and control of their powers grows.

Establishing that aspect of the series allows characters no matter how silly their designs are to stand out. You immediately put in your mind that a guy named Best Jeanist, whose costume is blue jeans that go up to his nose, is to be taken seriously because you immediately learn he is the number four hero in Japan. Even in weird designs they can work to actually elevate the character as the My Hero Academia heroes and villains also use their costumes to their advantage.

These are all little things that both Marvel and DC Comics can learn, especially as they continue to try to add diversity to their line-up. Marvel is most recently guilty of this with how they promoted the new characters in New Warriors, particularly with Snowflake and Safespace. Immediately Marvel made the character narrative for them names and colorful designs. They did not let the characters standout because they are intriguing new heroes in their fans eyes first. 

OLDER HEROES CAN MENTOR UP-AND-COMING HEROES

My Hero Academia UA High School Teachers

The teachers of U.A. High School. Click for full-page view.

Something that both Marvel and DC Comics have had a problem with in the modern era is how to handle the relationship between their iconic heroes and the younger generation. More often than not both companies don’t do much about exploring their iconic heroes relationship with the next generation. Even those heroes that share names or are part of a greater superhero family don’t interact much.

But as we see with the establishment of U.A. High School and other schools in the My Hero Academia Universe that does not need to be the case. Whether its major heroes like Superman and Captain America or lesser known heroes like Mockingbird and Steel there is a place for true mentorship to happen. My Hero Academia’s All Might and Eraserhead are perfect examples of this. Both have different approaches to being heroes and teachers but at the end of the day they are looking to ensure the younger heroes they are teaching excel as heroes themselves. It’s all about looking towards the present and future which Marvel and DC Comics can definitely improve on.

YOUNG HEROES CAN LOOK UP TO ICONIC HEROES

My Hero Academia Deku All Might

Deku is proudly All Might successor. Click for full-page view.

On that same note, while we have seen young heroes take up names inspired by the iconic DC and Marvel Universe heroes the tendency to rebel has increased faster. There is a lot of jumping towards the younger heroes being frustrated with how they are treated or trained that they go off on their own. Frustration is understandable for young heroes to have as that is something all kids have. But that does not mean we have to always have that be where the older and young heroes break off from their mentor-protege relationship.

Class 1-A of U.A. High School is a good example of how rebellion can be part of a character’s arc without breaking away from the young heroes still being mentored. Even when Izuku and his class do fantastic things to save the day it is not lost on them that they still have a lot to learn. That plays a big part in how these young characters develop through the experiences they have as students and proteges. Using both teachings and experiences can help a lot of these new generations of heroes Marvel and DC Comics are trying to establish as key characters in their respective universes.

POWER WEAKNESSES AND LIMITATIONS CAN BE PART OF CHARACTER GROWTH

My Hero Academia Deku One For All Infinity

Deku goes Infinity mode by taps into One For All full power. Click for full-page view.

Outside of Superman and Hulk, whose power levels are off the charts, we tend to see a lot of heroes have a lot of the same superstrength, speed, agility, or fighting prowess. There is not a whole lot that separates the majority of heroes and villains in both the DC and Marvel Universes except for the extremely powerful. That is something that is honestly boring since there is not a lot of development in the specific powers.

It’s another thing that My Hero Academia does very well that both Marvel and DC can adopt. As we see with heroes like Mirio Togata, aka Lemillion, his Shadowcat-like phasing power have a fair share of drawbacks. But rather than let it get him down he used those drawbacks to think of how to best use those drawbacks and turn it into strength through a combination of training, experience and thinking. Overcoming those limitations made him a character that immediately shines when you first see him in action.

That is just one example of power limitations and weaknesses making a character stronger in My Hero Academia. At the end of the day, limitations and weaknesses to a character’s power can be used for greater development. It can speak to how strong the character is mentaly that they are able to overcome or work around these power traits to be better. Whether it is on the hero or villain side of the Marvel and DC Universes. 

ORGANIZATIONS DON’T NEED TO BE HATED

My Hero Academia Pro Heroes

Pro Heroes ranked in My Hero Academia. Click for full-page view.

Another fascinating aspect of My Hero Academia is the fact that the heroes of that universe work closely with the different governments to be paid heroes working for their own hero agencies. There is definitely an element of these heroes being used as propaganda pieces by the government, especially when it comes to how they treat the hero rankings. At the same time, this is used as part of the greater realization of this world where heroes are able to develop as individuals. Some are in it for the fame, having the highest hero ranking, simply to save people or a combination of everything. But by having a working relationship with the government, police and emergency workers we are able to see how everyone can benefit.

That is something that we have lost over the years in both the Marvel and DC Universes is the use of organizations. Specifically when it comes to organizations like SHIELD. A reason for that is a tendency to look at these types of hero policing organizations as bad things. But in doing away with things like SHIELD there is a major loss in opportunity to explore the greater impact heroes have to the world. Marvel and DC don’t have to directly copy the My Hero Academia structure. But having organizations like SHIELD as a resource can actually be treated as a positive thing rather than the Civil War or Crisis causing organizations they are normally treated as.

CONCLUSION

My Hero Academia Season 4

Class 1-A as they appear in season 4 of My Hero Academia. Click for full page view.

The My Hero Academia Universe is not perfect. There are faults that you can find there. But there are also a ton of elements about how Kōhei Horikoshi has developed the world that Marvel and DC Comics can learn and adopt in their respective universes. Reading and watching My Hero Academia it is clear Horikoshi took inspiration from the heroes and villains from DC and Marvel. With how successful My Hero Academia has been around the world it would definitely be beneficial for the Big Two in the comic book industry to take some inspiration from the franchise as well.


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