|Directed by||James Gunn|
|Produced by|| James Gunn|
|Executive producer(s)|| Victoria Alonso|
|Screenplay by|| Justin Marks|
|Story by|| Justin Marks|
|Based on|| Dragon Ball|
by Akira Toriyama
|Starring|| Neel Sethi|
|Narrated by||Jeffrey Wright|
|Score by|| Henry Jackman|
|Themes by||Shunsuke Kikuchi|
|Songs by||Phil Collins|
|Edited by|| Fred Raskin|
| Walt Disney Pictures|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
|Release date||February 16, 2025|
|Country|| United States|
|Next||Dr. Slump: Arale's First Live-action Movie|
Dragon Ball would be a 2025 American-Japanese road buddy fantasy action comedy-drama film directed by James Gunn and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Toei Company, and Amblin Entertainment. It would be a live-action adaptation of the Japanese franchise of the same name, and the second official live-action adaptation of the franchise after Fox's Dragonball Evolution. Gunn would also produce the film alongside Kevin Feige, Steven Spielberg, and the franchise's creator Akira Toriyama, while the film's screenplay would be written by Justin Marks, Gunn, Chrsitina Hudson, and Pete Docter, from an story by Gunn, Hudson, Marks, Docter, Spielberg, Tom McCarthy, Michael Arndt, and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller.
The film would star Neel Sethi, Chloe Bennet, Jackie Chan, Simu Liu, Ming-Na Wen, and the voices of Gilbert Gottfried, Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Mark Hamill, Clancy Brown, Josh Gad, Christopher Sabat, and Chris Cason, with the last two reprising their roles from the Funimation dub as Shenron and Shu, respectively, while Jeffrey Wrigth would narrate the film. The film's score would be composed by Henry Jackman and Mark Mancina, while Phil Collins would write and perform new songs for the film
Disney obtained the film rights of the Dragon Ball franchise after acquiring 20th Century Fox, who previously produced the critically panned live-action film Dragonball Evolution. Plans for a live-action adaptation of Dragon Ball would be announced at the D23 2021, along with the hirings of James Gunn as director, co-producer, and co-screenwriter, Tom McCarthy, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Arndt as co-screenwriters, and Spelberg, Kevin Feige, and Akira Toriyama as producers, while the cast and additional screenwriters joining during the next 4 years.
In order to avoid developing a film similar to Evolution, which was highly criticized for its unfaithfulness to the franchise, the production team would develop the film similar to Disney's live-action remakes of animated films, while the team would adapt specifically the franchise's first saga in order to make sure audiences unfamiliar with the original manga would understand the film's events. The film's visual effects team would create new systems in order to create visual effects that resembled the original anime's designs.
The film would be released on February 16, 2025, and would became a critical and commercial success, grossing 977 million dollars over a budget of 177 millions, and being praised for its direction, screenplay, emotional depth, faithfulness to the source material, humor, performances (particularly Seethi, Bennet, Chan, and Gottfried's), visual effects, and music, with many critics praising it as an improvement over Evolution, and some even calling it one of the best films based on an anime/manga. The film would also earn Academy Award and British Academy Film Awards nominations for its visual effects. The film would become the first entry in a live-action cinematic universe based on both Dragon Ball and the Dr. Slump franchise.
Far away in the mountians of Mount Paozu, a young monkey-tailed boy named Goku is taking care of the dearest posetion of his late grandfather, the fourth-star Dragon Ball, all while believing that it has his grandfather's soul. However, the boy's life would change when a young girl named Bulma sudenly comes in search of the seven Dragon Balls, which, when gathered together, can invoke the wish-granting dragon Shenron. Finding themselves in a once-in-a-lifetime journey, Goku, Bulma, and martial artist master Muten Roshi must find the Dragon Balls before the evil emperor Pilaf finds them and uses them to take over the world. During the journey, Goku and Bulma develop a strong bond, and now Goku must choose between his "grandfather" or his new family.
In the mountains of Mount Paozu, a young monkey-tailed boy named Goku (Neel Sethi) lived and trained martial arts with his grandfather, Gohan. However, one day, Goku finds his grandfather dead. After buring him, Goku sees something is shinning in his house, and discovers that it is his grandfather's dearest posetion: The Fourth-Star Dragon Ball, causing him to assume the Dragon Ball has Gohan's soul.
Months later, a young girl named Bulma (Chloe Bennet) comes to Goku's house and takes his Dragon Ball. Having never seen anything from a city before, Goku assumes she's a demon and chases her car, which he believes is a monster. After a brief fight, Bulma mangaes to explain to Goku that she's a human being. Once in Goku's house, he explains that the Dragon Ball is his and that it "has" his grandfather's soul. Bulma then explains that the Dragon Balls are seven magical balls that, once reunited, can summon the wish-granting dragon, Shenron (Christopher Sabat), and get one wish, which she plans to use in order to get a boyfriend. However, Goku refses to give her his Dragon Ball, still believing it has his grandfather's soul.
Knowing that there's no other way to get his Dragon Ball, Bulma proposes Goku to travel together to gather them. Gou accepts, and both start to travel in Bulma's car. However, the two are suddenly attacked by a pterodactyl assasain named Claws (Clancy Brown), whom Goku effortlessly defeats. Claws soon explains everything to his employer, Emperor Pilaf (Gilbert Gottfried), who himself plans to gather the Dragon Balls in order to take over the world. Enraged, Pilaf hires desert bandits Yamcha (Simu Liu), Puar (Paul Rudd), and Oolong (Bradley Cooper), to follow them and steal their Dragon Balls, under the lie that he will use his wish to also remove Yamcha's fear of women.
After a night in which Goku and Bulma become friends while Goku is introduced to city life, the two meet a turtle (Bill Murray), who begs them to help him return home. The two agree, and they take him too Kame House, a house in an island, where the two meet his owner, Master Roshi (Jackie Chan), whom Goku discovers was Gohan's martial artist master. As a gift for returning him the turtle, Roshi gives Goku the Flying Nimbus, while Roshi gives Bulma his own Dragon Ball, the Three-Star Ball. They are soon attacked by Pilaf's forces, who had been informed of their locaton by an spy. Roshi, Bulma, and Goku quickly defeat them, with Roshi showing Goku his most powerful techinque, the Kamehameha. Goku deseparetly asks Roshi to train him, which Roshi quickly agrees, and Roshi joins the group to protect them. The three then leave Kame House.
As they continue to travel, Goku and Roshi continue training, with Goku displaying incredible fighting skills, while they and Bulma soon develop a strong, family-like bond. After a fight with Yamcha and his friends in the dessert, Bulma reveals that her parents died in a car crash and that she inherited Capsule Corporation and her parents' fortune, leaving her unsure if people love her and her money, to which Goku relates to his fear of being without a family. After another fight with Pilaf's henchmen, the three soon arrive in a city, where they start enjoying their time together, and eventually find the Seven-Star Dragon Ball in the castle of the city's ruler, Ox-King, which Pilaf's minions, Shu (Chris Cason) and Mai (Ming-Na Wen), set on fire to kill them and steal their Dragon Balls. Bulma and Roshi manage to escape, but Goku stays, as they managed to steal his Dragon Ball by pulling his tail, which they discovered was his weakness.
Still believing his Dragon Ball has his grandfather's soul, Goku deseperately tries to get it back, in spite of Bulma and Roshi's attempts to stop him. Yamcha, having developed a crush on Bulma, changes sides, along with Puar and a reclutant Oolong. The castle, with Goku still inside, eventually falls apart. Roshi and Bulma, who managed to escape, desesperately try to find him, while Roshi states that they should have told him "the truth", in spite of Bulma's statements that they can't do it. Goku, who managed to survive, overhears this, but when he asks Bulma about it, she denies it, causing him to grow suspicious of her.
They soon discover that Mai and Shu stole Bulma's car, which had their Dragon Balls, during the incident. Being guided by Boss Rabbit (Mark Hamill), they try to escape the city throught the airport. As they search for the Dragon Balls, Goku and Bulma's friendship slowly begins to fall apart. Thanks to Yamcha, they discover Mai and Shu's whereabouts. The group mangaes to arrive in time to avoid their escape. Boss Rabbit tries to trick Bulma into touching him, which would turn her into a carrot. However, she instead uses a part of her nano-tech armor to throw him off. A fight soon ensues and eventually, thanks to Goku trying to avoid his Dragon Ball from being stolen again, Mai and Shu manage to escape.
The group try to follow them, but they eventually are forced to rest in another desert. Bulma soon yells at Goku, blaming him for their loss. The two soon argue, and an enraged Bulma soon reveals the truth: His grandfather's soul was never in the Dragon Ball, as well as that the Dragon Balls shall split all over the world once their are used. In denial, devasted and unwilling to be left alone, Goku runs away in the Flying Nimbus back to Mount Paozu.
Goku stays inside his house for days, unwilling to leave in fear of somebody stealing his Dragon Ball. Bulma, Yamcha, and Master Roshi soon find Goku, but he refuses to listen to them. Roshi enter throught a window, and tells Goku that, even his grandfather is gone, he will stull have a family in Bulma, him, and Yamcha. In the meantime, Bulma realizes that her parents' love will always exist, even in death. The two reconcilie, and conclude that they must take the fight to Pilaf before his minions try to steal their Dragon Ball.
The group eventually arrives at Pilaf's castle, where they fight his forces, but they are eventually captured. Oolong and Puar soon manage to escape by shape-shifting into bugs, and they quickly release the rest of the group, just as Pilaf is about to make his wish to Shenron. Oolong manages to distract Pilaf in time for the rest of the group to fight his forces. In order to stop Pilaf from using the Dragon Balls, Goku uses them to see briefly his grandfather. Goku asks Gohan if he would life to be ressurrected in one year with the Dragon Balls, but he refuses, feeling his time is done and knowing Goku will be fine without him. Goku accepts this, and Gohan vanishes. The group is captured once again when they lower their defenses while watching the moment. Pilaf now plans to roast them with the Sun in the morning as revenge for stalling his plans.
A confused Bulma asks why Goku wanted Gohan's blessing for his ressurrection instead of just ressurrect him. Goku then explains that he did it only because he wanted to know if his grandfather would be happy if he's alive again, as Goku claims that he no longer needs him, as he already has a family in his friends. Yamcha then comments that the group will at least have a wonderful last moment together watching the full moon. Goku then remembers that the beast that clearly killed his grandfather appears in the full moon, before re-calling a strange order fro his grandfather: To never watch the full moon, but he never knew why. The group becomes worried, fearing that he may be the beast, and also instruct him to never watch the full moon. Goku, however, chooses to watch it anyway, arguing that he should do it as he may not have another chance to watch it. Goku then suddenly transforms into a Great Ape.
Great Ape Goku then goes on a destructive rampage, attacking both his friends and Pilaf's army, starting a three-sided battle between Pilaf's forces, Goku's friends, and Great Ape Goku, during which Oolong cowardly tries to run away, only to be saved by Puar. As the battle continues, Pilaf, along with Mai and Shu, try to escape from the battle in their plane, but Bulma manges to stop them by hacking the plane's system, forcing them to fly around the castle, as well as leaving Pilaf trapped in the plane by adjusting his seatbelt so he couldn't escape. Great Ape Goku eventually corners the group, but Bulma manages to break througth him. Pilaf soon regains control of the plane and, upon hearing that the Great Ape is actually Goku, uses a giant sword he had as one of the many traps in his castle to cut off his tail, assuming the pain would weaken him enough to shoot him to death. However, this actually cause Goku to turn him back to normal, hitting Pilaf's plane and sending him and his minions far away in the process.
As morning arrives, the group agree that Goku can't know that he is most likely the monster that killed Gohan, knowing that it will break the young boy's heart. They soon give to Goku new clothes, and then he wakes up, not remembering what happened last night, asks about the castle and his tail. The group then claims that he fell unconcious because Pilaf cutted off his tail so he could die faster, and then lie that they used the incident to escape.
Goku then attempts to say goodbye to Bulma, but then she reveals that she will soon arrange everything so she could move to an island near Kame House so she could be with Goku, having come to care for him as a brother. Yamcha, Puar, and Oolong then reveal that they will move too, as he wants to train and be as strong as Goku. The group, having settled down, now trains and live together, as a family.
In a mid-credits scene, a young boy named Krillin arrives at Kame House, as he wants Master Roshi to train him, and soon gets annoyed by Goku's naivety, before being shocked to discover that they will have to train together.
In a post-credits scene, Pilaf and his band are revealed to have been sent to the ocean by Great Ape Goku's punch, and they soon land on an island. Fed up with Pilaf's harsh treatment, Mai and Pilaf soon leave him trapped in the plane, much to his anger.
- Neel Sethi as Goku:
A monkey-tailed boy who has spent his whole life in the mountains, and who thinks his Dragon Ball has his late grandfather's soul. Producer Steven Spielberg would describe the film's take on Gku as "someone whom everyone can relate to" arguing that kids would relate to the character's "innocence, naivety, and open-wided vision of the world outside the mountains", while more adult audiences would relate to "the emotional arc of grief" the character goes througth in the film. According to director James Gunn, the filmmakers would choose to expand on the idea of Goku thinking his Dragon Ball has his grandfather's soul for his arc in the film "because [they] felt that little joke held so much potential, and now [the are] taking the chance to use that potential". Gunn would allow Sethi to eat food during filming, as well as personaly give him food, in order to feature Goku's love for food from the manga. Seethi and the cast would also improvise certain scenes involving Goku eating.
- Chloe Bennet as Bulma:
A highly intellingent girl from the West City who meets Goku during her journey to gather the Dragon Balls in order to wish for a boyfriend. Bennet would describe the character as "more emotional" than the original version, which she said would be because "[the filmmakers would feel] a need to explain why, of all, things, she wants a boyfriend". Producer Akira Toriyama would describe the film's version of the characters as "complex", as they had to feature both elements from the original version "while still potraying her as a lonely girl desesperate for love".
- Jackie Chan as Master Roshi:
An old martial arts master who trained Goku's grandfather, and whom Goku and Bulma meet during their journey to gather the Dragon Balls. Producer Akira Toriyama would say that the character's perverted traits in the manga would be toned down in the film "to keep it more PG", througth the film would still feature several "subtle" allusions to his pervertion. Additionally, Toriyama would say that Roshi "becomes Goku's substitute grandpa" in the film, and that the project would allow the character "to be more than the old perverted man he's known to be". while stull featuring elements from the original version.
- Simu Liu as Yamcha, a desert bandit who agrees to help Emperor Pilaf to gather the Dragon Balls under the assumption thet they will use them to cure Yamcha's fear of womens.
- Ming-Na Wen as Mai, Emperor Pilaf's gun-wielding right-hand woman and most trusted minion.
- Nathan Fillon as Boss Rabbit's second-in-command.
- Gilbert Gottfried as Emperor Pilaf:
An small, alien-looking, short-tempered "emperor of crime" who plans to use the Dragon Balls to take over the world. Gottfried would describe Pilaf as "a spoiled brat who wants to get what he wants", and that his performance would be that of "a combination of an spoiled brat and a guy with over-the-top anger issues". According to producer Akira Toriyama, the writers would aim to make Pilaf "the less-threatening, funniest, most enjoyable villain in cinematic history". PIlaf's characterization in the film would be based on the Disney Villains Cruella DeVil, Hades, and Prince John.
- Chris Cason as Shu, an antropomorphic dog who is Emperor Pilaf's personal ninja, assistant, and second most trusted minion, after Mai. Cason would reprise his role from the Funimation dub of the original anime.
- Paul Rudd as Puar, an antropomorphic cat and shapeshifter who is one of Yamcha's two accomplices and his best friend, whom Puar always tries to advice to make the right choice, to various degrees of success. The character would be explicity potrayed as a man because director James Gunn would feel it would be weird to potray Puar as a woman due to Yamcha's fear of womens.
- Bradley Cooper as Oolong:
An antropomorphic pig and shapeshifter who is one of Yamcha's two accomplices and Puar's bully, and who only wants Yamcha to make the choice that shall give them more money. Cooper would describe Oolong as "the physical emboidment of the worst parts" of his Marvel Cinemtatic Universe character, Rocket Raccon, which he would describe as "cynism and cowardice", througth he would say it would also "include a little bit of bullying too".
- Mark Hamill as Boss Rabbit, an antropomorphic rabbit and mob boss who is forced to help Emperor Pilaf to gather the Dragon Balls. Gunn would draw inspiraton on Rabbit's modus operandi and personality from Daredevil's Wilson Fisk, stating that "the plot needed him to work on the shadows, to the point of being unknown".
- Clancy Brown as Claw, an antropomorphic pterodactyl and assassin who is hired by Emperor Pilaf to help in his plans to gather the Dragon Balls by killing any possible owner they may have. Claw would be loosely inspired by an unnamed pterodactyl who appeared in the first Dragon Ball manga.
- Josh Gad as Teeths, an antropomorphic sabertooth tiger an Claw's trainee and victim of abuse. Teeths would be loosely inspired by an unnamed sabertooth tiger who appeared in a filler scene in the first Dragon Ball episode.
- Christopher Sabat as Shenron, a wish-granting dragon who can only be called once the seven Dragon Balls are gathered. Sabat would reprise his role from the Funimation dub of the original anime.
- Bill Murray as Turtle, Master Roshi's pet and long-time friend who lives with him in Kame House.
Additionally, Jeffrey Wright would act as the film's narrator. Producer and Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama would provide the voice of a Dalmatian on a TV. Director and producer James Gunn would provide both the voice and motion-capture for Ox-King, the ruler of the Fire Mountain and the city in it. Producer Steven Spielberg would voice a toy soldier. Grey Griffin would voice Sewanin, a monkey who took care of Goku after his grandfather's death. Tom Kenny would make a vocal cameo as a radio announcer.
Producer Kevin Feige would voice a guard in Ox-King's house. Dee Bradley Baker would provide animal vocal effects. Frank Welker would provide the vocal effects for Goku's Great Ape form. Jason Marsden and songwriter Phil Collins would make vocal cameos as two monkeys near the start of the film. Chris Sanders would make a vocal cameo appearance as a caterpillar waiter in a restaurant.
Development and writing
On August 12, 2018, it was reported that Disney would acquire the rights for a live-action film based on the Dragon Ball franchise as a part of their acquisition of 20th Century Fox. Fox previously produced and distribuited the live-action film Dragonball Evolution, which was negatively received by both critics and Dragon Ball fans.
On August 25, 2021, during the D23 2021, Kevin Feige would reveal that Walt Disney Pictures would be developing a live-action film based on Dragon Ball, with James Gunn being set to direct and co-write the film with Tom McCarthy, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Arndt. Gunn would also be set to co-produce the film with the franchise's creator, Akira Toriyama, Feige, and Spielberg, with the latter producing the film througth his company, Amblin Entertainment, while Toriyama would also serve as script coordinator. The film would be set to be the first on a cinematic universe based on Dragon Ball, as well as the related mangas Dr. Slump and Jaco the Galactic Patrolman.
In December 12, 2021, Gunn would reveal that he wrote the film similar to a live-action Disney remake in order to make sure the film is faithful to the original manga. On January 12, 2022, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller would reveal that they would help with the film's screenplay. On March 1, 2022, during an interview, Spielberg would reveal that the film would adapt the Emperor Pilaf Saga, a decision he said would be taken by the studio in order to make sure both fans and the rest of the audience "[were] on the same page", as the Emperor Pilaf Saga is the franchise's first. Durig the same interview, Gunn would reveal that the film would focus on themes such as grief and family, which he would say "are the best kind of emotional part this saga can have". In June 3, 2022, Toriyama would further explain that, while the film would be "superficially the same fantastical story in which fans first met these characters, on the inside is the most relatable and emotional Dragpn Ball story".
On November 1, 2022, Justin Marks, Pete Docter, and Christina Hudson revealed that they helped Gunn with the final version of the screenplay, with Gunn stating that he would hire Docter for the project due to his love for animes. On November 12, 2022, Gunn would reveal that Toriyama's role as producer would consist on "making sure [their] vision for the story was made in a way people can still call this film Dragon Ball yet also sheding some tears", while Feige's would consist on "helping build a cinematic universe while telling a very independent story" within the film, and his and Spielberg's would consist on making sure "the film stayed emotional yet cool". In order to avoid potential criticsm for the scene in which Bulma breaks througth Great Ape Goku, the production team watched the Dragon Ball Z episode "Mercy" for inspiration. Similarly, the production team would watch several Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z episodes for inspiration for the film's emotional scenes. The writing team would also research on grief counseling for Goku's story arc, with Gunn describing the film as "one big, crazy, action packed grief counseling sesion".
On April 14, 2022, Gunn would reveal that Neel Sethi would be cast as Goku, whom he would confirm would have a tail in the film. On May 24, 2022, Chloe Bennet and Jackie Chan would reveal that they would be cast on the film as Bulma and Master Roshi, respctively. During the San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Gunn would reveal that Simu Liu and Ming-Na Wen would be cast as Yamcha and Mai respectively, while Gilbert Gottfired and Bradley Cooper would be revealed to be voicing Emperor Pilaf and Oolong, respectively, and Jeffrey Wright would be announced as the film's narrator. During the D23 2022, Gunn and Toriyama would reveal that Christopher Sabat and Chris Cason would be reprising their roles as Shenron and Shu in the film, while Mark Hamill, Clancy Brown, and Josh Gad would have been revealed to have been cast as the voices of Boss Rabbit, Claws, and Teeths, repectively. On January 23, 2023, Paul Rudd would reveal that he would be voicing Puar.
Filming for the film would start on November 20, 2023, in Pinewood Studios, and would last until June 24, 2024. During filming, an animatroic tail would be used on Neel Sethi, in order to represt his character's tail in the movie. While filming scenes featuring the Flying Nimbus, Sethi would use a small gonodola, which would serve as an stand-in for the Nimbus, which would be created enterily in CGI.
Voice recording for the film would begin in July 1, 2023. Unlike most films, the voice cast would record their voices together, throught not all the voice cast would be together, instead only doing their recording sessions with any other voice cast member the scene would feature. Most of Pilaf's angry tatrums would be improvised by Gottfired while recording his lines, with the script only showing in which moments his character would be angry. Similarly, Cooper would improvise some of his lines during recording, particulatly the sequence at the climax in which Oolong tries to run away.
The Moving Picture Company (MPC) and Framestore would create the film's visual effects, with Toriyama and Dragon Ball Super manga's illustrator Toyotaro acting as visual effects consultants. MPC would be in charge of creating the film's enviroments, while Framestore would create the film's CGI characters and objects.
Unlike previous anime adaptations, which aimed for more realistic designs, Dragon Ball would feature character and visual designs closely resembling those featured in the source material, with director James Gunn stating that "not only because [the film] is live-action means it has to look realistic", and arguing that the original designs are "too iconic" to be altered. Framestore would creat a new software system for the Flying Nimbus, in order to create a Nimbus that looked like a cloud yet still would look believable when being ridden.
Henry Jackman and Mark Mancina would compose the film's score, which would contain motifs and elements from the anime's original score by Shunsuke Kikuchi. According to Jackman, Goku's theme would be composed by Mancina, and would be composed of an instrumental orchestra "with a jungle vibe", while Bulma's would be composed by Jackman, of a more technological orchestra, which Jackman would describe as akin to his works on animated Disney films. According to Jackman and Mancina, the difference in Goku and Bulma's themes would be due to the "opposite places where these two live", so they would create a score that could "showcase those differences". Jackman and Mancina would work closely with the film's screenwriters in order to create a score "that focuses more on what the characters feel than in what they do".
Phil Collins would write and perform new songs for the film, as well as re-write and perform a cover of the anime's opening, "Mystical Adventure", for the film's end credits. According to producer Akira Toriyama, Collins would be hired due to his works on the animated Disny films Tarzan and Brother Bear, which Toriyama would feel it "proves his talent as a musical storyteller". Collins would describe his songs as "probably the film's most important aspect", arguing that they "help develop the characters and the heart in the story". Collins would research on anime songs while writing the his songs "in order to evoke anime vibes in this anime-based movie". As in Tarzan and Brother Bear, Collins would record his songs in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
The film would have an aproval rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7/10. The critical consensus would read, "A heartwarming and wonderful visual spectacle that stays faithful to its roots, Dragon Ball goes close enough to the original manga to leave fans pleased, yet still working as a good introduction to those unfamiliar with it." On Metacritc, the film would have an weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Franchise and sequel
- Main article: Dragon Ball: Krillin's Adventure
- Main article: Dragon Ball Live-action Universe
While announcing the film at the D23 2021, director James Gunn would reveal Dragon Ball would be expected to become "the first in a very large universe of films". On September 22, 2022, producer Akira Toriyama would confirm Gunn's statements, stating that they would have "a plan for the first twenty years of movies" set in the same unverse as Dragon Ball, which would say would "expand the Dragon Ball unverse, expand the franchise's mytholgy, and expand other franchises' too", and would reveal that films based on Dr. Slump and Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, set in the same universe as Dragon Ball, would be in development. While promoting the film in a San Diego Comic-Con 2024 panel, Toriyama would reveal that a Dragon Ball sequel, based on the first part of the Red Ribbon Army Saga and starring Krillin, would be in development.
- While not an official Disney Remake, the film would be developed similarly to a remake in order to make sure is faithful to the source material.
- While the film would a reboot of Dragonball Evolution, it would contain small in-jokes to the previous film:
- When being explained about the Dragon Balls by Bulma, Goku would ask if a ritual would be needed to invoke Shenron, an idea Bulma would dimiss as "ridiculous" and "no sense". The line would be a reference to the ritual needed to call Shenron in Evolution.
- While distracting the Dragon Team in order for Yamcha and Puar to steal the Dragon Balls, Oolong would get angry for having to say "cheesy" and "clichéd" dialogue, a reference to the criticism to Evolution's script
- When preparing to invoke Shenron, Pilaf would ask for earphones in case "things go to the cliché route", another reference to Evolution's script.
- The film would be Disney's fifth collaboration with Phil Collins after Tarzan (1999), Brother Bear, The Jungle Book 2 (both 2003) (the latter in which he voiced Lucky), and Tarzan II (2005). The film would also be Collins' first live-action film with Disney.
- It would also be Mark Mancina's eight time scoring a Disney film, after scoring Man of the House (1995), Tarzan, Brother Bear, The Haunted Mansion (2003), Tarzan II, Planes (2013), Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014), and Moana (2016)
- This would also be Collins and Mancina's third collaboration, after Tarzan and Brother Bear.
- Dragon Ball would be the first live-action film to be produced by Akira Toriyama.
- As a "Hidden Mickey", when Bulma shows Goku her Dragon Balls, she would put them on the table alongside Goku's in a way that resembles Mickey Mouse's head.
- The film would be Disney's first film based on a manga/anime.
- The film would be Gilbert Gottfried's second threatical Disney film, after the animated film Aladdin (1992), in which he voiced the parrot Iago.
- A brief reference to his character in Aladdin would be seen during Pilaf's first scene, in which, after Shu ruined his introduction, he would ask himself "Where i picked this bozo up?", a reference to one of Iago's first lines in Aladdin.
- Gottfried and Frank Welker previously worked together on Aladdin and its spin-offs.
- The film would be both James Gunn and Kevin Feige's first film to be developed directly by Disney, as their previous films were developed by Marvel Studios (and, in Feige's case, LucasFilm), and distribuited by Disney.
- Many cast and crew members of the film would have been involved in the Marvel CInematic Universe: James Gunn wrote and directed the Guardians of the Galaxy film series, Kevin Feige has produced/co-produced every MCU film to date, Simu Lui will potray Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Chloe Bennet and Ming-Na Wen potrayed Daisy "Skye" Johnson/Quake and Melinda May, respectively, in the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Benedict Wong potrayed Wong in Doctor Strange and the Avengers films, Bradley Cooper voiced Rocket Raccoon in the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avenegrs films, Clancy Brown potrayed Ray Schoonover in the Netflix series Daredevil and voiced Surtur in Thor: Ragnarok, Paul Rudd potrayed Scott Lang/Ant-Man in multiple films in the franchise, and Henry Jackman scored Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.
- The opening logo Walt Disney Studios would feature a Dragon Ball instead of a glowing arch flying over the castle.
- Two possible second post-credits scenes would have been considered by the studio:
- The Red Ribbon Army preparing themselves to gather the Dragon Balls in a year.
- An unknown person scaning Arale Norimaki's house, and discovering her Android nature, foreshadowing a Dr. Slump film.
- The hand-drawn shots featured in the end-credits would be real-life drawn shots drawned by Toyotaro.
- The film's logo would be an exact re-creation of the original manga's logo.
- This would be the Flying Nimbus' first live-action appeareance.
- The film would feature the first time in the franchise that Bulma would actually be involved in a fight, with the use of an armor, which would also mark the first time a character uses a battle armor that actually has weapons.