The Dragon Ball franchise has been entertaining audiences for over three decades with its memorable characters, iconic battles, and epic storylines. With multiple movies released over the years, fans have been left wondering which movies are considered canon to the Dragon Ball universe. While some may argue that only the original manga and anime series are canon, others believe that certain movies should be included as well. In this blog, we will explore the world of Dragon Ball movies and dive into the debate of which ones are canon.
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Are the Dragon Ball Movies Canon?
Although the four Dragon Ball movies do not follow the original storyline and instead retell or reimagine Goku’s childhood, the first Dragon Ball Z movie is widely accepted as canon. Released in 1989, Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone takes place a year prior to the start of DBZ and features Garlic, Jr. using the Dragon Balls to gain immortality before being banished to a pocket dimension. This movie’s position in the canon was reinforced when Garlic, Jr. made a reappearance during an anime-only filler arc, seeking revenge before being sent away once more.
Although the upcoming DBZ movies are not regarded as canon, both Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge from 1991 and Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound from 1993 do not directly oppose the main series. In Cooler’s Revenge, Goku is still learning how to control his Super Saiyan transformation, which suggests that the movie could potentially happen during the three-year interval between Goku’s return to Earth and the Androids’ arrival. Nevertheless, the fact that Frieza and King Cold have never mentioned Cooler, a relative of their own, casts doubt on this theory.
In a comparable manner, the events of Bojack Unbound may have occurred shortly after the Cell Games, during which Goku and King Kai passed away, while Gohan was still learning how to control his Super Saiyan 2 form. The English dub of the movie briefly mentions Future Trunks’ appearance as a time-traveling fighter who drops by to visit his comrades in the current timeline after bringing peace to his own era. Likewise, Hercule Satan was already widely known and celebrated globally for supposedly defeating Cell, as the phony hero made his cinematic debut in the 1993 film.
Are Wrath of the Dragon & Dragon Ball Super: Broly Canon?
The most captivating aspect is the Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon movie released in 1995, which takes place just after Kid Buu’s defeat, during a time of tranquility for Earth and the Z Fighters. The film features Goku’s unique attack, the Dragon Fist, which reappears multiple times in Dragon Ball GT, suggesting that Wrath of the Dragon is part of the series’ official storyline.
The recent anime series Dragon Ball Super seems to have revoked the canonicity of DBGT, which raises doubts about whether Wrath of the Dragon should be considered canon. Although there are no direct contradictions between Wrath of the Dragon, DBZ, and Super, it’s worth noting that Goku has yet to utilize or acknowledge the Dragon Fist technique in Super’s anime or manga.
Starting from the year 2008 with the short movie Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!!, it seems that Toei Animation has been maintaining the continuity of the Dragon Ball movies that followed. The movie’s reveal of Vegeta’s sibling Tarble was recognized in Super, and when the series debuted in 2015, both 2013’s Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and 2015’s Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F were adapted as the initial storyline arcs.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is considered canon since it was penned by Akira Toriyama, the original series creator, unlike the previous Dragon Ball Z: Broly trilogy. Furthermore, DBS: Broly is a continuation of the Dragon Ball Super anime storyline. If Toei sticks to this trend, it is probable that the forthcoming Dragon Ball Super movie will also be considered part of the main plot, as Goku and the Z Fighters embark on fresh escapades.
In conclusion, determining which Dragon Ball movies are canon can be a bit confusing, as the criteria for canonization have changed over time. However, it is generally accepted that only a select few movies are considered canon, including Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Battle of Gods, and Resurrection ‘F’. While the non-canon movies may still be enjoyable for fans, they should not be considered part of the official Dragon Ball storyline. As the franchise continues to evolve and expand, it will be interesting to see if any additional movies are canonized in the future.