My Hero Academia Vigilantes Starred the Avengers… as Villains?

My Hero Academia stands as one of several popular anime/manga series that has a prequel, sequel or spinoff series to its name, to expand the lore and deepen the characters. In this case, it's My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, based on author Kohei Horikoshi's original works and exploring a new vigilante hero, Haimawari Koichi, as he fights to keep the streets safe.

This spinoff manga has a somewhat lighter tone than the original My Hero Academia, complete with conspicuous but charming cameos from other series, including a bizarre Thomas the Tank Engine-inspired villain named Tommy S. Gordon. Meanwhile, another notable cameo reimagines Marvel Comics' superhero team the Avengers as minor villains.

Subverting Expectations In My Hero Academia: Vigilantes

The side story My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is not actually a parody series, nor is it a cheap throwaway tie-in. It's a substantial story in its own right, with character development and cool action scenes to match, along with plenty of character guest appearances such as the R-rated hero Midnight and the flaming Endeavor. That said, this is not the main story, so the creators can take some creative liberties with the story of Vigilantes and explore ideas that would seem odd or out of place in the main series, including Internet memes and conspicuous cameos that would be distracting in the main story. That includes the villainous group Abegawa Tenchu Kai, which had at least seven members until it was wiped out.

At one point in Vigilantes, a ruthless vigilante called Stendhal -- later Stain the hero killer -- learned the whereabouts of Abegawa Tenchu Kai and moved out. Stendhal caught the villains unaware and massacred them, including the top four members. The seven known members of the gang are all modeled after the Avengers of MCU fame, and amusingly, their role in Vigilantes subverts viewers' expectations.

It's already known that the My Hero Academia series borrows heavily from American comics and the Star Wars movies, with Gran Torino being the new Yoda and Yuga Aoyama imitating Cyclops/Scott Summers. This time, the original heroes are not only petty villains but also get killed right after being introduced. This helps set Vigilantes apart from the main series, as anything can happen in Vigilantes and things are not as they seem. This time, the Avengers are disposable villains, and that's definitely not in the original My Hero Academia rulebook.

What The Villainous Avengers Can Do In My Hero Academia: Vigilantes

tetsu vigilantes

The character designs for the Abegawa Tenchu Kai members help make it clear that Vigilantes can afford to shamelessly duplicate characters from other IPs without causing a stir, especially seeing how the main My Hero Academia story has to be subtler about this. Vigilantes is a story where the rules are relaxed, which not only leads to subverting readers' expectations, but also allows the creators to gleefully recreate their favorite pop culture icons without restraint. Thomas the Tank Engine was just the start.

The members of Abegawa Tenchu Kai clearly resemble the Avengers inspirations, including the main four members: Iron Man, Captain America, the mighty Thor and the Incredible Hulk, with Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Winter Soldier serving as minor backups. They also have Quirks and personalities to match, such as the villain Captain America, Ryoija Yonenaga, using his Quirk-based strength to throw manhole covers just like Captain America's original shield. There's also Soji, a bearded fellow who carries a construction hammer and can generate lightning with his Quirk as a clear allusion to Thor the Asgardian.

All this plays into the interconnectivity of pop culture today, where movies, comics, anime, Internet memes and more overlap and pay tribute to one another like never before. Today, pop culture and media are highly porous and self-aware, and characters such as the Abegawa Tenchu Kai are clear evidence of that. It's wonderful to see the Avengers again -- even if they're minor villains who fall to Stain like cannon fodder.

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