ByDoug Penikas, writer at
Movies! I love watching them and I love making them. Follow me on Instagram - @drpenikas
Doug Penikas

Dragon Ball Z is a global phenomenon that deserves to be made into an epic live-action movie. The fan base is already there. There's enough source material to create a minimum of six films, and with the incredible advances in filmmaking technology, Dragon Ball Z can live on the big screen with the potential of becoming an iconic live-action film franchise like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or any Marvel or DC movie.

Pretend there are no rights issues between the rightful owners of the franchise and the studio. With a world-renowned director, who’s as passionate about the franchise as any fan, an international cast, the best visual effects houses in the film business, and a script that stays as close to the original source material as possible, It’s a win-win.

The Themes Connect On A Universal Level

Aside from the amazing action, I believe the themes of the story are universal. The main characters all have the ability to harness energy in different ways. The heroes use it to protect while the villains use it to destroy. We interact with energy on a daily basis, both physically and spiritually. That's one of the many reasons why I think fans connect with the show.

Dragon Ball Z brilliantly took the concept of energy and made it visually pleasing. The show's depiction of auras, telekinetic communication, teleportation, flight and super speed are truly amazing especially with how they are woven throughout the story. You also have the portrayal of family, friends, heroes and villains. Yes, there are tons of aliens in the show, but the relationships and the world-ending threats are universal and all come down to good versus bad energy.

'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

Why Make A Live-Action Movie Now?

With the success of recent superhero films, and the incredible advancements in computer graphics as well as camera technology, I'm honestly surprised that there hasn't been a live-action Dragon Ball Z movie yet that's true to the franchise.

I feel as though I've seen so many superhero powers and filmmaking techniques used that I've been quietly saying to myself: If you change the color of that energy beam you'd have an impressive Kamehameha Wave.

'X-Men 2' [Credit: Fox]
'X-Men 2' [Credit: Fox]

The Time is now. The technology is there and there are box-office established filmmakers who would even make Chi-Chi proud if they helmed the movie. Even unknown directors who make fan films are getting serious views on low to micro budget films.

The Challenge Of Adapting Dragon Ball Z

Director Peter Jackson mentioned in the making of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that the books by Tolkien were “unfilmable” as written. OK, but with the smart adaptation from the filmmaking team, we as an audience have seen one of the most iconic fantasy trilogies ever made on film. Remember Return of the King’s clean sweep at the Oscars? Epic.

There’s no reason why a live-action Dragon Ball Z couldn’t be on par. It's basically the Japanese Star Wars. You've got spaceships, different planets, aliens, heroes and villains that shoot energy at each other. We've seen these movies before and they are tons of fun when done right.

I’m sure many diehard fans will disagree with me out of fear that their childhood memories will be destroyed by a live-action adaptation of the beloved , but I myself am a hardcore fan of the show and have always wanted to see a live-action Dragon Ball Z done right.

There’s so much source material that can be adapted to live action that the studio could have a five or more film franchise if desired. I'm guessing that's a potential gold mine. Harry Potter has eight movies and is one of the most lucrative franchises of all time and yet Dragon Ball Z has even more source material than that.

I'm not assuming making a live-action Dragon Ball Z movie is an easy task, but it's definitely possible. Casting the iconic roles with recognizable film stars who can do the stunts will be a challenge, no doubt, or maybe the live-action adaptation will launch an unknown actor to super stardom? Who knows? The possibilities are endless. However, there are certainties that must be addressed.

1. The Budget

If Shenron himself was summoned, and a live-action Dragon Ball Z film was announced by a studio, my first wish would be that it has a sizable budget. It's a movie where the visual effects alone will be incredibly expensive to get right, and Dragon Ball Z deserves a budget worthy of making the live-action movie an epic.

2. Shoot As Much Practical As Possible

I agree that the best visual effects are the invisible ones. Granted, with the amount of energy blasts that will be needed for the fight scenes, figuring out a way to make the frame feel as real as possible will only give bonus points to the filmmakers.

'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

3. Get The Hair Right

This could be the biggest challenge for the destined filmmakers if a live-action movie was to be made. If you study the look of each of the characters, it is a very difficult look to adapt for live-action. Many fan films have attempted to do this practically but suffer from lack of budget. This is a must, if you don't have the hair, then you don't have Dragon ball Z.

4. Get The Characters Right

They live on a different Earth than we do. So, dive into that Earth instead of our own. We as an audience will embrace it, just like we embraced Luke on Tatooine, or Frodo in Rivendale. There's no need to bring these fantastic characters to our Earth; let's go to theirs and take the Nimbus cloud or a Capsule Plane.

'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

If the lucky filmmakers to be nail what I think are some of the key elements, then fans of the series are in for one heck of a movie experience. A live-action Dragon Ball Z movie is on the horizon. If not, it definitely should be.

That's my fan rant for the day.


Who do you think should direct a live-action Dragon Ball Z ?


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