We Can Be Heroes: The Disheartening Sharkboy and Lavagirl Sequel


Photo Credit: Netflix/We Can Be Heroes

The Newest Robert Rodriguez film, We Can Be Heroes, starred young actors, YaYa Gosselin, Hala Finley, Lyon Daniels, and Nathan Blair, along with acclaimed actors, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Pedro Pascal, and Adriana Barraza.

Luiza Decenzi, Editor-in-Chief

Fifteen years after the original debut of the family-friendly fantasy film The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, American filmmaker Robert Rodriguez teamed up with Netflix to produce a standalone sequel titled We Can Be Heroes released on December 15th.

Ranking a 72% critic score and a 45% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the much awaited release has altogether received relatively average reviews and lingered on Netflix US’s top 10 trending for several weeks. The sequel to the 2020 production is currently under development mere weeks since the release. 

Considering The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D were much more unfavorably criticized, with a 19% critic and 33% audience score, the success of We Can Be Heroes is a big achievement. With such a positive aftermath, investing in a sequel seems like a dead giveaway. But do these statistics truly depict the full picture of the movie? 

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D had a clear audience. This superhero adventure film was shameless in its regard for a far-fetched storyline and imperfect graphics. The film might have failed in the grand scheme of box office grossing, but it established a long lasting impact on its young fans impressed by a refresher from the banality of formulaic Disney movies. This was a film that created a following, relenting enough to pester the names “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” enough times for Netflix executives to adopt its sequel. 

The much awaited sequel, however, was disappointingly nothing more than a fifth movie from the Spy Kids franchise. From the actor’s delivery of lines to the storyline and cinematography We Can Be Heroes was essentially a remake of Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (4th installment of the series) but with superpowers and taking away even more components of the franchise. 

The plot is simple. The parents are superheroes who were captured during a battle, while the children were locked in a safety bunker. They must learn to cooperate and control their powers in order to defeat the enemy and save their parents. Sounds simple enough, right? But the unforgivable aspect of this storyline is that it is a staple of the Spy Kids franchise. 

This is an understandable turn of events considering Robert Rodriguez was heavily involved in both projects (and Spy Kids was much better received than The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D). Regardless, it was a stab in the back to the original audience who expected a modernized movie with real parallels to The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.

I find no issue with a movie such as Spy Kids: All the Time in the World being modeled after the original Spy Kids. However, I do find an issue with the clear baiting of Sharkboy and Lavagirl fans when the movie lacks any other connection to its origin. 

I am one to say I was strongly dismayed through the entirety of We Can Be Heroes. This is coming from an admirer of both of Robert Rogriguez’s franchises. I felt nothing short of betrayed and a prey to a cheap marketing tactic that carelessly threw around the names “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” at their convenience.

As a stand-alone movie, We Can Be Heroes is already undermined with poor acting skills—and I am not referring to the children. When it comes to young actors still perfecting their skills, I can overlook over emphasized lines or awkward interactions between cast mates. But this is coming from revered and experienced actors: One of which was in Game of Thrones, the other has played roles alongside the biggest names in Hollywood and India. By far, this is Priyanka Chopra’s and Pedro Pascals’ worst performance. 

We Can Be Heroes trampled on such a disarray of scenes that there were times I honestly could not distinguish who was at fault for the poor delivery. There is only so much an actor can do with poorly written scripts.

Overall, my perception of We Can Be Heroes was not too positive. Not that the original Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D was without its faults, but it was unrelenting to its essence. We Can Be Heroes failed miserably at its attempts to hitchhike on this trademark nature. 

If I were to be watching this movie as a child, who overlooks poor acting and storyline, and if I were not a fan of this original movie, my opinion would not be too far off from other popular family-friendly movies. However, We Can Be Heroes is still clickbait wrapped in pretty paper, trying to deceive its audience into thinking there’s a heart to the story, rather than what it is, an executive money grabbing opportunity.