[frieza]Should Dragon Ball Keep Recycling Villains Like Frieza & Broly？
Whether they join the team or continue their evil ways, villains are never really gone in the world of Dragon Ball.
By Ryan McCarthy
Published 2 days ago
The more things change in Dragon Ball, the more they stay the same. Chief among the story’s wheel-spinning habits is the villains’ tendency to stick around for a long time. Still, it’s not always a bad thing. After all, seven of the ten warriors chosen to protect Universe 7 in the Tournament of Power were antagonists in their first appearances.
Sometimes the reappearance of a former villain is an excellent plot device to push the story forward; other times, it feels forced and unnecessary. The long-running franchise has seen past?adversaries become treasured friends, and some former enemies?return as current enemies. Since this tradition in Dragon Ball isn’t completely good or bad, it’s more of a case-by-case situation, so let’s take a closer look at when a villain’s return works and when it doesn’t.
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Some people may have forgotten that Piccolo started as a villain, as he is one of Goku’s oldest friends and something of a surrogate father to Gohan. Putting aside that he kidnapped Gohan, the Namekian quickly grew to care for the young half-Saiyan. Ever since then, he’s given his life to protect the first friend he ever had — Piccolo has stood by Gohan in every conflict and now babysits his daughter.
While Piccolo’s redemption was quick in Dragon Ball Z — since much of his villainous past took place in?Dragon Ball –, Vegeta’s was a slow burn. Rightfully so, as the Prince of Saiyans has come the longest way of any character in the franchise. He has always sought greater strength, and though he’s still as stubborn and driven as ever, he has become Goku’s equal as a hero. Most importantly, he is now a devoted father and husband — at least as much as a Saiyan is capable of being.
Sought out for the all-hands-on-deck crisis of Dragon Ball Super’s?Tournament of Power, Android 17’s growth from villain to hero was entirely offscreen. Having started a family and become a park ranger, he is about as human as he can be. With a remarkable performance in the tournament, he was the last man standing of the 80 combatants. In the ultimate payoff, he uses his wish to resurrect the universes destroyed by Zeno.
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Frieza’s grand return after a decade of cameos from hell?has been a mixed bag. It was a fantastic treat for fans who were there the first time Goku and Frieza squared off, and the nostalgia factor was the perfect draw for a great movie. The evil space emperor was the best choice to bring back into the spotlight as he is easily Dragon Ball’s most iconic villain. His long history with both Goku and Vegeta lends some additional drama to his return.
While?Frieza was quickly?defeated again?in a rare instance of Goku outright killing his enemy, he wasn’t away for long. During the Tournament of Power, his surprising cooperation was everything fans never knew they wanted when Goku and Frieza teamed up to save the universe. Unfortunately, this is where the goodwill of Frieza’s resurgence comes to an end.
The series manages to spare Goku from responsibility for Frieza’s resurrection by having Whis do it. However, it still is damaging to Goku’s character since he knows the kinds of things Frieza is probably doing out in space yet chooses to leave him be. In the subsequent Super movie and the current Granolah arc of the manga, the series seems to feel the need to shoehorn Frieza into every storyline.
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One classic villain, Cooler, has had two movies and is rumored to be the surprise returning character in the next Super film. Created to be Frieza, except, well, cooler, he is ultimately incredibly derivative. Incapable of doing anything unless Frieza has already done it, including a mechanical body or a Golden power-up, this non-canon foe has already had one movie too many.
Broly was granted official canon status, along with a much-need character retcon. The original Broly was a laughably intense cartoon, as his whole schtick was screaming the name of a baby whose crying bothered him. In the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie, not only does he survive but he ends the film on good terms with Goku. Yet, he has not been seen or heard from since. The manga skipped over the events of the movie, leaving the audience to wonder why he was made canon only to be immediately forgotten.
Dragon Ball?bringing back former villains, like anything, has positives and negatives. The idea, in theory, is a good one in terms of fan service, but it can be challenging to balance serving the fans and serving the story. If a character doesn’t need to be there, the audience can feel it. Sometimes the best thing for a villain is to let their legacy speak for itself, staying in hell?like Cell.
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About The Author
(32 Articles Published)
Ryan is an avid fan of the movie and entertainment industry, especially interested in the creation of content. Some people need a white noise machine to relax at night, Ryan needs an audio commentary. Making a living by simply talking about the movies and shows he loves is his dream. You can find him complaining about Rise of Skywalker on Twitter as @RickeySpanish because even his Twitter handle is an American Dad reference.
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