I have been a fan of the Dragon Ball saga since the 90s when I got to watch all the original series on Toonami (yes, that includes GT). Then when Super came out, I eventually binged it and watched all three of its movies. So when the latest one was announced, I was excited, especially when it was revealed to be more of a movie about Gohan and Piccolo than Goku and Vegeta like the last three movies. However, as this Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Review will show you, there’s a difference between making a goal and delivering on it.
Let’s start out with a big question, one of the timeline. Because based on what we saw in the trailers, versus what’s going on in the manga, it’s actually a little hard to pin down where this is in the timeline. Then again, Dragon Ball Super LOVED its timeline jumps. We do know this takes place after Broly, and that Pan (Gohan and Videl’s daughter) is 3 (and a half?) in the film, so let’s just say it’s a year or two after the Broly movie, ok? We do know it comes after Broly not just because of ages, but because we see Broly training with Goku and Vegeta on the planet of Lord Beerus, and we can see that he’s not as wild as in his own movie, but he’s still got some work to go. Honestly, as a big fan of the Broly movie (it’s the best of the lot, in my opinion), I’m sad we didn’t see more of him and his growth. But oh well.
Either way, with those three, Beerus, and Whis doing their own thing, that meant the Earth was a bit vulnerable…
Which was ironically a good setup for the return of the Red Ribbon Army, which is very much an OG bad guy for Dragon Ball, so I really did appreciate how they helped catch newer viewers up to speed with a quick history lesson, all the while revealing who we are dealing with now via Magenta, Dr. Hedo and so on. Dr. Hedo is the grandson of Dr. Gero (the man who made Android 17 & 17 as well as Cell), and he had a very simple motivation for joining his grandfather’s old organization: he needed money to make androids. A deal is struck, and the work begins.
This brings us to Piccolo and Gohan. Piccolo is being his best “grandfather self” with Pan, but also seems to be bailing out both Gohan and Videl with their parenting duties quite a bit (not sure how to feel about that…). Piccolo is especially miffed that Gohan is focusing more on his teacher career than his training. But Gohan (like others) is okay with this because if they need help, they can get Goku and Vegeta on it…right?
Not quite. Because when Dr. Hedo’s creation Gamma 2 attacks Piccolo, and Piccolo learns of the Red Ribbon Army’s return, things kick into high gear…kind of.
You see, this is ironically where things start to go off the rails. Because as noted, Piccolo isn’t happy that Gohan isn’t doing his training, so when he infiltrates the bad guys layer and finds out that they want to kidnap Pan…he actually helps them do it! All so that he can give Gohan a “reality check” and get him back into fighting form. That’s…pretty dark. Sure, Pan is for it, but she’s also three and clearly will do whatever Piccolo says (which is scary in its own right). I was all for Gohan getting the lion share of the duties here, but the movie honestly doesn’t do him a lot of favors because a lot of the time…he’s made to look like an idiot.
After the Tournament of Power arc, where everything was almost wiped out, you’d think he’d be a bit more serious about things. But instead, he acted more like Goku then ever before! Including whining about not having his glasses, being clumsy like Goku can be, and more. Goten doing it is fine because he’s very much like his father, but Gohan is supposed to be different, but he didn’t act like it. Much to Piccolo’s chagrin more than once in this movie.
As for Gamma 1 & 2, I honestly didn’t mind them overall, and they played well in terms of their personalities and their brotherly demeanor toward one another. Gamma 1 is serious, and Gamma 2 is a showoff and reckless. It’s a trope, but it plays well. That is…until much like Gohan, they have their potential wasted. We see them in a few fights before the main climax, but they’re either quick, or not as good as they could’ve been. Then, when the truth is revealed that they’ve been duped, they stop fighting immediately as if nothing happened.
Look, I know it can be hard to create good villains like Vegeta, Freiza, Majin Buu and so on. But we’ve already had a “these androids actually aren’t so bad” arc, they even refreshed it with Android 17 in Dragon Ball Super with 17 winning the Tournament of Power and choosing to restore all the universes with his wish! So it felt kind of odd to retread so much ground with characters that we only just met.
Sadly, this led to another bad thing in terms of retreading. We all knew that there was going to be an “ace” up the Red Ribbon Army’s sleeve, and that turned out to be…Cell Max. Yes, they brought back Cell, but instead of the Perfect Cell which wowed many, we got nothing more than a brute monster. An unstoppable brute of a fighter…where did we JUST see that…? Yeah, Broly. Except Broly was cool, and Cell Max…wasn’t, at all. Or at least, not in a way that made him memorable like the OG Cell was. The fights with him were good enough, but overall it wasn’t a twist or a climax that was worth it in the end.
I do want to give props to the musical score for this movie. They had big themes that felt like a mix of anime and blockbuster superhero themes. So nice job on that, it helped get me into the fights at key points.
One thing I’m sure some of you will be curious about in my Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Review is that of the visuals. This is the first Dragon Ball movie to embrace 3D in such a way. How does it hold up? I’d honestly say it was…inconsistent. At times, it felt just like the anime we’ve been watching for decades. But other times, it felt like we were watching a video game cutscenes. At times that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but for a big blockbuster movie, and especially given the visual quality of Super and its anime and previous movies, I wish it had been a bit more refined and less obvious than it was 3D at points.
Don’t get me wrong, when it worked? It worked. Certain shots and battle sequences were great. Plus, the 3D world allowed for special camera shots that we couldn’t have gotten in the 2D anime style without serious effort. But then other times it showed that we were watching a 3D production, and…we honestly didn’t really need that given how great Broly looked.
A plus I will give them are the transformations that we get for Piccolo and Gohan. Piccolo was the MVP of the film by far, and his transformation into Piccolo Orange was cool, even having him pull out a move he hadn’t used since the literal OG series was a nice callback too. Gohan’s was cool as well, but it did feel forced compared to Piccolo’s (or Goku’s Ultra Instinct), and then just as soon as it happened, it was gone and not talked about or explained or even named!
Another key difference I want to name here is tone. If you look back at the Beerus movie, Frieza movie, or the Broly movie, you knew that things were going to be serious at most points in the film. But with Super Hero…they cranked up the comedy WAY too much for this to be taken seriously. For example, Bulma had some very…anime shots in terms of camera. Then, we found out that she’s using the Dragon Balls for shopping and cosmetic surgery.
Oh, but it didn’t end there. When Goten and Trunks randomly show up (alongside Krillin and 18) they do a failed fusion (because of course, they do…) and then have their pants ripped, so we’re looking at their butt for minutes on end. Did we really need that? I don’t think we did. Also, why was Krillin getting insulted so much? He’s long since proved his worth.
I think for me, the biggest problem was that of feeling. When I watched Resurrection F, and especially when I watched Broly, I FELT the intensity of it all. Sure, it had a slow build, but once it got going, it didn’t stop. You were meant to FEEL that Broly was the ultimate threat, and they showcased that in various ways, and required epic levels of power-ups and fusions to stop him. Here, though, the Gammas were stopped very easily due to their “hero parts”, and then Cell Max honestly could’ve been stopped without Gohan’s transformation if you think about it. Gohan says afterward that even with Goku and Vegeta, they might not have been able to beat him, and I don’t buy that at all, given their levels of power and ability.
In the end, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero was an interesting Dragon Ball story. But in truth, this would’ve been better as a multi-episode arc where things could’ve been built up better, and the payoff is more meaningful. I’m sure some Dragon Ball fans will enjoy it. But for others, especially those wanting Gohan to FINALLY step into the role of the world’s most powerful Saiyan… you likely are going to have to wait a bit longer…
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Review
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero did deliver on some of its promises, including a story about Gohan and Piccolo. But it wasn’t enough to measure up to what came before, and was just plain weird at some points.
- Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Review