There may be some mild spoilers ahead for Dragon Ball Super: Broly, so if you are yet to see the movie, or don’t want anything spoiled at all, come back here later.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly isn’t like other Dragon Ball movies, and that’s why it stands out as one of the best.
Since it was first revealed, DBS: Broly has turned heads for a number of reasons. It boasts some of the most jaw-dropping animation the series has seen to date, as well as a new interpretation of the iconic Broly by series creator Akira Toriyama.
Even in just the past few days since it premiered, it has drawn people’s attention with a $7 million opening day in the U.S. on Wednesday, Jan. 16. For frame of reference, the last Dragon Ball film grossed only $1.8 million in its opening weekend.
As such, it’s no surprise most would expect it to be a stand out entry in the series. What they might not expect, though, is that its biggest strength has nothing to do with its style or sales. It has to do with how it approaches its titular antagonist.
In most every Dragon Ball film, Goku and his friends are presented with a villain they have to defeat. Almost every one is pure evil, and their defining quality is that they’re intent on ruining the heroes’ lives.
There have been exceptions of course, like Beerus in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, but most antagonists don’t stray from this stereotype and are obliterated from existence by the film’s end.
This is especially true for Broly. While some effort was put into his original back story, all three of his original films see him hulk out into a rampaging monster, leaving no other option for the heroes but to put him down in extremely violent fashion.
In DBS: Broly though, this isn’t the case.
Broly is still an immensely powerful warrior with berserker tendencies, but this new iteration of him isn’t driven by fighting. In fact, it’s hinted at that he doesn’t even like it that much, only doing it to please his controlling and violent father Paragus.
As a result, every fight he enters is tinged with a sense of remorse. No matter how strong he may be, Broly doesn’t want to fight, and instead could live out a peaceful life in other circumstances.
It’s a refreshing new depth of character not only for Broly, but for a Dragon Ball movie villain in general. Not every villain Goku and his friends have ever encountered has been pure evil, and most of the films based on the series have missed this point.
Better yet, it does something with this potential. In place of being vaporized by a final, oversized beam, Broly is given a second chance at a peaceful life thanks to a wish from the Dragon Balls.
Afterward, Goku meets back up with him and provides an olive branch, asking to fight again on friendly terms in the future. In the meantime, Broly gets to live on, now with the knowledge that he has friends who will support him whether he fights or not.
It gives Broly a chance that other movie villains didn’t get, and thanks to their flat, simplistic personalities, didn’t deserve.
His redemption feels earned by the fact that he isn’t purely a villain, and it makes his film debut feel that much more like a true Dragon Ball experience than so many offerings before it.
There will be people who dislike Dragon Ball Super: Broly. Even with its great animation and writing, it isn’t without flaws or parts that won’t land with everyone.
For fans of the series though, it’s a new high point in what a Dragon Ball movie can be, and a new standard for what we should expect from how they present their antagonists.