The hero of My Hero Academia is Izuku Midoriya, whose life was changed forever when he became the heir to All Might, the symbol of peace. Izuku was ready to obtain the incredible Quirk known as One For All, but becoming All Might's successor meant learning some hard truths about his seemingly invincible idol.
When All Might was in his prime, he really did have it all: fame, legions of fans, charisma, incredible strength and health, and even international support from his American friend David Shield. By now though, All Might's dazzling image is little more than a façade hiding the terrible truth. Can he continue to keep it up?
The True Cost Of All Might's Injury
One tragic day, All Might battled his powerful nemesis All For One and achieved an incredibly narrow victory. The villain was defeated for the time being, but All Might suffered a grave injury that began sapping his strength and hospitalized him. Doggedly determined to maintain his position as the invincible symbol of peace, he refused to give up that public image of himself. The decision to push on despite his injury alienated him from his sidekick, Sir Nighteye, as the true test of All Might's resolve began. His time was running out and he was leaking strength daily -- but he could not let the public see that.
All Might couldn't afford to let the world's villains know of or capitalize on his failing strength, or they would wear him down even faster. Even if All Might could keep up, so much crime and mayhem would make the world suffer -- he needed his invincible image to discourage such crimes in the first place. Public knowledge of his weakness would sabotage that image. Fellow heroes and police officers would suffer a serious morale blow, possibly causing them to slip and allow villains and other criminals to get the upper hand.
So All Might chose to sweep his ever-growing problem under the rug, put on his classic dazzling smile, and carry on as though nothing was wrong. As a public image of heroism and goodwill, he couldn't afford to let that smile falter, even if he was slowly dying underneath. He had to test himself as an actor and keep smiling no matter how dark his situation became. But even for All Might, that's easier said than done.
How All Might Bought Himself Some Time, Then Lost It
For years All Might continued fighting crime and maintaining his symbolic image as My Hero Academia's ultimate defender of good. But his muscle form had an increasingly shortened time limit. He couldn't let the public see this, especially not in the middle of combat. All Might's skinny form became a closely guarded secret, with only a few select individuals such as Naomasa Tsukauchi and later Izuku knowing about it.
All of this undoubtedly put some psychological strain on All Might, and the situation only became more perilous as the years went on. He would eventually lose the ability to fight at all, and by the time he met Izuku, he could maintain his muscle form for only a few hours per day. More than ever, he needed his acting skills to play the part of a hero rather than live it.
All Might bought himself time by keeping up his dazzling public image, then passing on One For All to Izuku to ensure a new symbol of peace would replace him before the situation became critical. His top priority was never his own fame or glory, but the preservation of his symbolic role and his power, a truly selfless act. He was just in time too -- early on in My Hero Academia, he defeated a powerful Nomu and aggravated his condition even more. By now he had roughly one hour per day in his muscle form, and couldn't keep saving the world like this. All Might finally spent his remaining strength to defeat All For One once again, but his façade was shattered as the world beheld his skinny form.
Just as All Might feared, the dam broke once he officially retired as a hero. Despite All For One's capture, the League of Villains was greatly emboldened. Endeavor is still trying to establish himself as the new #1 hero and symbol of peace while Izuku continues his training. All Might's jig is up, and now he can only sit back and watch as Izuku and Endeavor fight to make the most of the time he bought for them. Will it be enough?