Warning: This Review Includes Mild Spoilers!
The Dragon Ball franchise has been an unstoppable force ever since it landed on planet Pop Culture. The series that features alien beings with immense power has transcended genre, language, and even generations. It is easy to see why millions and perhaps billions of fans love Dragon Ball, there is something for everyone; comedy, action, suspense, and romance. Throw in a plethora of vibrant characters and personalities and you got a winning formula.
The Dragon Ball Movies have been able to expand on the manga and anime by providing the perfect canvas for its fans’ vivid imagination. 2019’s Dragon Ball Super: Broly served audiences worldwide with the very best of the franchise; earning it an 82% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. Broly may very well be the best Dragon Ball feature film to date.
The announcement of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero excited fans and amped up their expectations- including my own. However, Super Hero feels similar to Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar a series of episodes strung together to create an unnecessary sequel.
Let’s get into the roughly 90-minute film. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero marks the return of the Red Ribbon Army. They have created two new androids, Gamma 1 & Gamma 2, who as the title of the film indicates, want to be superheroes. To prove themselves they are told to take on the strongest fighters on Earth–The Z Fighters.
Goku, Vegeta, and Broly are off-world training. That leaves Gohan as the strongest. However, the married father is much more in his studies than fighting. Gamma 1 & 2 are not much interested in GrandDad Picciolo, so they “kidnap” Gohan’s daughter; Pan. Thus creating just barely enough motivation to bring the half-Saiyan out of retirement.
Fans of the series got their typical well-executed fight scenes, well-placed puns, witty banter, and appearances from all the characters they love and the ones they love to hate. The film’s plot twist features the return of super villain, Cell, but with a shiny new upgrade.
While all of those elements should have made for a worthy successor to the Broly film, the film falls as flat as apparently, Chi Chi’s ass is. Yes, that is a thing in this movie. Super Hero lacks a reason for this film to exist as a film. It could have easily been a fine filler arc before we are thrust into the Granola Arc. Super Hero offers nothing other than potentially more of Gamma 1 & Gamma 2 and Red Ribbons return. Though they will be assimilated into Capsule Corp thanks to Bulma’s genius and desire to stay looking young.
While the Aladdin 2 comparison is to spark a few laughs, it also is a similar film plot-wise. We got a bad guy or in this case two, who work for the “real” evil, that they later betray for a chance at redemption. Meanwhile, the main protagonist struggles with his new life and his former life. A colorful character with pointy ears gives the protagonist the boost they need to reclaim their role as a hero. The proof is in the pudding that Lord Beerus enjoys eating.
I give Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero a D+
While Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is an entertaining film, it delivers nothing more than fan service. Many will argue that’s exactly what fans want but for a franchise that spans generations, it can’t always rest on that. Series like My Hero Academia, One Piece, and Pokemon, manage to deliver films with fan service and compelling stories. Anime is no longer for the weird kids, it is global. So, why not take the risk and push anime films to the same place Pixar and Studio Ghibli films reside–in the awards.
That’s just my review of the film. Why not share yours in the comments? While you’re at it listen to DB4L’s reaction to the movie of their latest episode of the podcast.