Despite his gargantuan popularity, no one in a million years could have ever expected Broly coming back for a new film and a canon one at that. With the reveal of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the world of Dragon Ball was flipped on its head. Who was arguably the face of spin-off content, the movies, and the video games had found a proper place within the main Dragon Ball continuity. Broly's role in the DBZ canon, however, comes one very specific problem. There are now two Brolys, each one distinct enough to be his own entity.
With two completely separate Brolys how does one reconcile the character’s traits into a single conversation? Well, you can’t. One was created for the Dragon Ball films while the other was created by Akira Toriyama as an official continuation of the main story. Is the latter more valid than the former? Is one a more interesting character than the other? Regardless of where you fall on these questions, Broly’s arguably more interesting than he’s ever been. What’s his history? Why was he brought back? Is his power really maximum? All this and more awaits you.
It’s almost unfair how strong Broly is. Scratch that, it is unfair how strong Broly is. His main ability is honestly so over the top, you really have to wonder what Toei was thinking when coming up with such a villain. The reason Broly is so strong isn’t because he was born with a high Power Level, it’s because being the Legendary Super Saiyan allows him to grow stronger as he fights.
That means, the longer a fight against Broly last, the more the gap between him and his opponent widens. If you can’t beat Broly early on or right away, you aren’t going to beat him at all theoretically. This is something we see in every movie with Broly progressively boosting his power. Not even Jiren was this conceptually overpowered.
As we all know, Power Levels skew on the bogus side when it comes to Dragon Ball lore. While they’re accurate measures of a character’s strength, they say nothing about their skill, a flaw that ends up biting Frieza’s army on the tail time and time again. That said, that doesn’t mean Power Levels can’t be impressive.
Baby Broly could solo the whole series up to the end of the Saiyan arc.
At a whopping 10,000 Battle Power, baby Broly has the highest base in the series. For comparison, baby Goku had a Power Level of 2 and kid Goku, at the start of Dragon Ball, had a Power Level of 10. Talk about a power gap.
Broly’s hatred of Goku is widely mocked for how nonsensical it is. After hearing Goku cry as a baby, Broly held this grudge for the rest of his life, even letting it be a trigger for his power. Except that’s not what happened. Goku is a trigger for Broly, but only because of what’s Goku’s crying is associated with.
On the day Broly heard Goku’s crying: King Vegeta attempted to have Broly and Paragus assassinated; Frieza blew up Planet Vegeta; and Broly awakened to his true power. Goku is a reminder of the worst day of Broly’s life. It’s more nuanced than a bit of crying.
Vegeta’s not the kind of guy who backs down from much. Even when Frieza pushes him to literal tears, he devises a plan to get a Zenkai off of Krillin so he can contribute to the fight in a meaningful way. He still loses, mind you, but the point is that Vegeta would rather put himself in danger than hold back. At least as far as non-Legendary Super Saiyans are concerned.
Even the Prince of all Saiyans has his limits.
Upon seeing Broly fully transform and begin to destroy Goku, Piccolo, Gohan, and Future Trunks, Vegeta freezes in his tracks and refuses to fight Broly. He’s so paralyzed with fear that he spends almost the entirety of the movie simply observing the battle from afar, incapable of actually willing himself to fight back. That’s true fear right there.
In many ways, Broly is Goku’s cinematic antithesis. Both were born on the same day, both are “the legendary Super Saiyan,” and both represent the Saiyan race in their purest forms. Where Goku is pure of heart and serene, however, Broly is entirely malicious. The two characters love combat more than anything, but battle to Goku is more about self-improvement than anything else. Battle for Broly is a way to satiate his ever-growing fighting lust. To top it all off, Goku has to train actively to enjoy combat whereas Broly simply grows stronger through fighting. They’re two sides of the same coin.
If the new movie’s trailer is anything to go by, Goku and Vegeta are in a lot of trouble when it comes to Broly. If you’re perceptive enough, you may have noticed that Broly never actually fights Goku or Vegeta in anything other than his base form. At the end of the trailer, we do see Broly powering up to Legendary Super Saiyan while Goku’s badly damaged in his Blue form.
Eat your heart out, Jiren.
This is important as it implies a very dark fact: Base Broly is strong enough to lay the smackdown on Super Saiyan Blue Goku. Goku, in one of his strongest forms, absolutely struggles to defeat Broly. How he plans on defeating a transformed Broly is going to be the question of a lifetime as fans go in to watch the film.
There are a lot of weird details in Xenoverse 2, but by far the weirdest is the revelation that Broly can smell Goku’s family. This fact is brought to light when Tullece, despite looking exactly like Goku, doesn’t agitate Broly. It’s not the look that bothers him, but the Son smell. Broly can look at Tullece with no problems, but one whiff of Goku- whether it be from the man himself or from his sons- is enough to send him into a spiral.
Broly represents everything an Elite like Vegeta can fear. Born with a Battle Power of 10,000, Broly’s existence is symbolic of the lower class rising up to surpass the upper class. Broly is everything Vegeta wants to be: an all-powerful, evil Saiyan. Broly is perfectly in tune with his race whereas Vegeta has grown soft, allowing himself to adapt to Earth customs. He’s barely a Saiyan by the end of Dragon Ball Z. Broly is everything a Saiyan should be while Vegeta is everything a Saiyan shouldn’t be. Vegeta’s ego is all fluff. Broly’s is earned.
It’s no secret that Broly wasn’t one of Toriyama’s creations, so for him to bring him back as the major antagonist of the next film, and even canonize him, is kind of a big deal. Was Akira Toriyama so taken to the character that he felt compelled and inspired to incorporate Broly into his own narrative? Of course not, this is Toriyama we’re talking about.
Toei hopes you enjoy your corporate mandated Broly film.
Instead, Toriyama caught wind from Toei that Broly was a popular character both overseas and in Japan, prompting him to write Broly into the new film. Of course, Toei mentioning this fact to Toriyama clearly comes with some ulterior motives on their part. You don’t just casually mention Broly’s popularity in conversation after all.
People really take for granted just how obviously painful transforming into a Legendary Super Saiyan is for Broly. Not only does the form effectively relieve Broly of his emotional, mental, and psychological senses, it actually tears his body apart. The act of buffing up rips the skin off his shoulders in the first film, and the scream that accompanies the shift is clearly more than just for show. Broly is in intense physical pain as his body undergoes an extreme, almost improbable, metamorphosis.
If you asked fans what Gohan’s and Broly’s defining features were, you’d get one specific piece of overlap: rage. Gohan, from his very introduction, is a character driven by rage. It’s anger that primarily drives his power and it’s anger that ends up being his greatest ally when fighting Perfect Cell and Super Buu. How is that any different from Broly? After all, Broly is what happens when you succumb to rage entirely. Gohan is a Broly with restraint, one who hasn’t given into his urges whereas Broly is a Gohan who has fully embraced rage as his greatest ally.
Spin-offs are a magical thing, aren’t they? As they aren’t bound by the laws of canon, a spin-off can do just about anything it wants with its characters. Which is exactly what Dragon Ball Z: The Real 4D at Super Tenkaichi Budokai does to Broly. In an attempt to create an even more intimidating foe for Goku and Vegeta, the short film gives Broly a brand new God form.
Because of course he does.
Broly’s God form, known only as Broly God, makes him look more Super Saiyan 3 than Super Saiyan God. With overwhelmingly long hair, and the green tint from Legendary Super Saiyan, Broly’s God form is almost unrecognizable from Goku’s. At the same time, though, he’s Broly. If anyone’s going to get a unique God form, it’s him.
It seems a bit of a stretch to claim Gogeta, a character who has never appeared in canon, will defeat Broly, the antagonist of Dragon Ball’s next major story arc, but bear with me here. In anticipation of the film, Toei remastered every single Dragon Ball movie, and even announced worldwide showings for three: the Bardock special, the first Broly movie, and Fusion Reborn.
The first Broly makes sense for obvious reasons, and the new trailer showed scenes from Minus which suggest Bardock will be in the film in a minor role, so it’s only natural Fusion Reborn play a role. If Broly gets stronger as he fights, and he outclasses everyone individually, only a fusion could stop him. This is the perfect time to introduced Gogeta and Fusion Reborn remastered only backs up that claim.
One of the biggest plot threads the Frieza arc introduces is the idea of the Super Saiyan prophecy. Every 1,000 years, a Saiyan achieves the transformation in order to become the apex of his race. The series strongly suggests that Goku is not only the first Saiyan in 1,000 years to achieve the form, but arguably the first in general, thus completing the prophecy. Until Broly comes into the picture.
There's legendary, then there's "Legendary."
The whole point of Broly’s character is to reject the idea that Goku fulfilled some Saiyan prophecy. Rather, it was Broly. Not only was he the first Super Saiyan, he was the Legendary Super Saiyan. What Goku achieved was a transformation. What Broly achieved was a prophetic state. Of course, the original Broly is non-canon so make of that what you will.
Despite being the film’s namesake, (at least in the Western release,) Broly isn’t actually Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan’s Majin antagonist. He serves as the film’s final conflict and “boss,” so to speak, but the real antagonist is Paragus. Broly plays an active role and ultimately ends up destroying his father by the end of the movie, but he’s hardly the main villain.
It’s Paragus who drives the plot, establishes Broly as a force to be reckoned with, and ends up instigating every major event that occurs in the final act. Without Paragus, there is no story. Broly, on the other hand, could be replaced with just about any ancillary character. Paragus is essential to the plot’s progression. Broly isn’t.
In the original run of Dragon Ball Z, Broly represented the Saiyan race in its purest form. Cruel, malicious, and utterly obsessed with fighting to the point of near insanity, Broly is what every Saiyan strives to reach. He is the absolute peak of what the barbarian race is capable of, and he’ll assert his dominance over anyone and everyone.
The times they are a changing.
With the release of Dragon Ball Minus, however, it’s clear that Broly doesn’t really fit that “UberSaiyan” motif anymore. Some Saiyans are cruel still, but there seems to be a brotherhood among them and they come off more misguided by Frieza’s conquest than naturally evil. Broly’s character, in that sense, no longer makes sense in the context of modern Dragon Ball.
Journey to the West’s influences on Dragon Ball aren’t exactly a secret, but the story’s impact on the franchise goes far deeper than just the series’ inception. While Son Goku is the clear Sun Wukong analog in Dragon Ball, Broly also shares some quite a few similarities with the Monkey King.
The most notable Sun Wukong influence comes from Broly’s crown. In Journey to the West, Sun Wukong becomes possessed when wearing a crown. Broly’s crown in the first film, a device created by Paragus, suppresses Broly’s power and personality, effectively making him a different character entirely. It’s completely in line with what happens to Sun Wukong on a conceptual level.
Although Toriyama canonizing Broly for Dragon Ball Super is a big deal, it’s not exactly a first as far as the franchise is concerned. All the way back in the Frieza arc, Toriyama was so taken with Toei’s Bardock special that he felt compelled enough to draw Bardock in the manga, canonizing him and his story in the main narrative.
Bardock did it first.
During Goku’s fight with Frieza, the latter comments on how Goku reminds him of a nameless Saiyan who once opposed him. The next panel shows Bardock facing off against Frieza’s army from the end of the film, implying the events of the TV special actually occurred in the manga’s universe. It’s cool that Broly now has an official place in Dragon Ball’s narrative, but Bardock did it first.
Taking place in that brief period of Dragon Ball history where Gohan was the main character, but the Majin Buu arc hadn’t started yet, (at least in the anime,) Super Butoden 2 is a Super Famicom adaptation of the Cell Games, Bojack Unbound, and some of Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan. Rather than adapting these events in order, however, Broly is relegated to the very end.
The result is Super Butoden 2 ending in a climactic battle between Broly and one of four characters: Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, or Future Trunks. It’s an interesting adaptation of the film, one that removes Goku, but it works all things considered. Broly is a far more intimidating foe when Goku isn’t there to bail everyone out.
Before Toriyama came around and decided to grace the world with a fourth Broly movie, it seemed as if Toei was setting up one final confrontation between Son Goku and the Legendary Super Saiyan. At the end of movie 11, Kaio informs Goku that Broly is rampaging through Hell. Goku decides to team up with Paikuhan to defeat him and the movie ends there.
Broly Reborn just doesn't have the same ring to it.
The very next movie is Fusion Reborn which, curiously, does not feature Broly despite featuring the premise Bio-Broly set up. Instead, the main villain is Janemba. Going from movie 11 to movie 12, it seems quite obvious Broly should have been the antagonist, but Toei must have relented and realized three straight movies of Broly night not be the best idea for the brand.
Despite the oversaturation, Broly nonetheless remains the only truly original movie villain in Dragon Ball Z. Garlic Junior plays Raditz’s role in his film; Dr. Uiro is basically smart Vegeta; Tullece is literally Goku-Vegeta; Coola is Frieza; the entire cast of Super Android 13 are just blander versions of the real Androids; Bojack is blue Cell; Janemba is Fat Buu/Super Buu; and Hirudegarn’s backstory might as well be Kid Buu’s.
Broly, however, is very much his own character with a backstory and personality that can’t be attributed to other villains. It certainly helps that he’s a Saiyan, of which only Raditz, Nappa, and Vegeta were villains in the original series. On top of being a Super Saiyan, Broly’s transformations are more in line with the heroes than villains, giving him further antagonistic originality.
Of all the Saiyans in his first movie, Broly connects the least to Future Trunks. At least on a surface level. While his parallels to Goku, Vegeta, and Gohan are apparent, his connection to Future Trunks is a bit subtle. Both are firstborn sons of prominent Saiyans who have chosen to all but reject their fathers’ ideologies.
Future Trunks does not care for Vegeta’s careless attitude, preferring to live life by his own creed. He respects his father, but only because he has familial love for him. Broly does not care for Paragus’ desire for revenge against King Vegeta, preferring to live life by what he finds pleasurable. Unlike Future Trunks who still loves his father, however, Broly hates Paragus despite them having a seemingly healthier relationship.
If you’ve only seen the latter two Broly films or it’s been a while since you’ve seen the first, chances are you have a rather skewed perception of Broly. Although the series consistently depicts him as a shallow character with no discernable personality or motivation, the first film actually goes out of its way to establish depth for Broly.
Broly is a clear victim of abuse, one trapped in a body he can’t control. His backstory shows him as someone who cares about his father enough to save his life, but his power causes Paragus to fear him, creating a rift between the two. Broly grows to resent Paragus and has his mind warped by the power of being a Legendary Super Saiyan mixed with the mind control crown. It’s also worth noting that Broly converses with the cast from start to finish in the first film, a massive departure from his latter, almost unintelligible depictions.
Overly strong characters in fiction, manga, and anime especially, tend to have a bad habit of considering themselves god or gods. This is something Dragon Ball Super plays painfully straight with Zamasu, but a trend the franchise managed to subvert years earlier with Broly. Rather than considering himself a god, Broly sees himself as the devil.
What's a god to the Devil?
It’s an interesting take on the trope, but it’s also totally consistent with Dragon Ball’s original depiction of the Saiyans. They are bloodthirsty mercenaries who live only for combat. Of course, Broly sees himself as the devil, he’s a Saiyan, and the purest one at that. He’s as diabolical as it gets.
If Supersonic Warriors 2 wasn’t weird enough, it gets all the stranger when you play Broly’s what-if story mode. In a world seemingly without Majin Buu, Broly crash lands on Earth ready to defeat Goku, but is instead found by Mr. Satan. Mr. Satan ends up playing the role he did in the Buu arc, but instead befriends Broly.
The two forge a strong friendship and Mr. Satan even convinces Broly to change his ways and live amicably on Earth. Interestingly, Broly still hates Goku and can’t be around him whatsoever, but it’s a unique take on the character that tries to make him redeemable.
It’s no secret to most fans that character names tend to differ in English when compared to the original Japanese. Krillin should be “Kuririn,” Tien should be “Tenshinhan,” and Frieza should be spelled “Frieza.” Does this convention apply to Broly though? In Japanese, his name is romanized as “Burori,” but is his name really so simple as making it “Broli?”
Broccoli or Broccoly?
Honestly, yes and no. While Broli does absolutely work as a proper name, “Broly” isn’t exactly incorrect. In Japanese, Goku’s real name is “Kakarotto,” but “Kakarot” isn’t an incorrect translation despite dropping the “to.” If anything, “Broly” makes a bit more sense as it distances the name from the pun, “broccoli,” giving the name some subtlety.
Have you ever wondered how well the Saiyan arc characters would do in a fight against Legendary Super Saiyan Broly? Probably not, but Attack of the Saiyans answers that question anyway. In the RPGs post game, collecting all the Dragon Balls allows players to wish for Broly to show up and beat them up.
Broly basically acts as a super boss meant to challenge players once they’re more or less done with the game. He’s quite difficult, too, requiring some clever strategy and power leveling. The idea of Yamcha, Krillin, and Tien working together to defeat Broly is definitely nonsensical, but it makes for an interesting, alternative finale to the game.
As of Dragon Ball Super’s conclusion, two villains stand out as particularly powerful: Merged Zamasu and Jiren. Merged Zamasu is the result of a potara fusion between Goku Black and Zamasu, giving him access to God Ki, Saiyan Ki, Kaioshin Ki, and immortality. Jiren is simply absurdly powerful and it took Goku mastering Ultra Instinct, a technique used almost exclusively by angels, to stand a chance. Now there’s Broly.
It ain't easy being on top.
From what we’ve seen of Broly so far, he’s able to fight evenly with Super Saiyan Blue Goku in his base form. That means, as a base Saiyan, Broly rivals someone who’s had access to God Ki for years. This is to say nothing of the fact that Broly gets stronger while he fights and we still haven’t seen his Legendary form in action. He may very well completely eclipse Jiren if he hasn’t already.
Movie villains in Dragon Ball tend to be a one and done deal. Garlic Junior, Dr. Uiro, Tullece, and Lord Slug were all dealt with in a single film before Coola came around and managed to net himself a sequel. Even then, though, two films isn’t really much to write home about, especially since his second movie featured an arguably different version of Coola. It wasn’t until Broly where DBZ found its landmark movie villain.
Four movies and counting.
The main antagonist of three movies (two if you don’t want to count Bio-Broly,) Broly is easily the most active and prominent movie villain in the series. Not only that, he plays a rather active role outside of the movies as well, serving as a major antagonist in Budokai 3 and Burst Limit. The new movie is just another victory lap for Broly.
Even though we all agree to call the “movies,” well, movies, it’s important to remember that none of the films are actually feature length. Rather, 12 out of the 13 Dragon Ball Z films clock in at under 50 minutes. At 72 minutes, Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan is the longest original Dragon Ball Z movie. As a result, it’s able to flesh out its narrative rather well, even incorporating some decent arcs into the mix. It wouldn’t be until Battle of Gods where a Dragon Ball movie would wind up longer than Broly’s first outing.