Warning - This article contains Avengers: Infinity War spoilers!
Marvel fans are still reeling from the traumatic experience that is Avengers: Infinity War, but that flood of emotion hasn't slowed down the fanboy chatter about the film's big twists, deaths, and Easter egg references. One of the bigger comparisons that some fans are making is how Avengers: Infinity War either borrows from or references the anime genre.
It's a fitting discussion: there are hints of animes like Naruto influencing Infinity War, and a lot of anime fans have already starting making connections between Marvel's big Avengers crossover film, and the Dragon Ball series. As stated, the comparisons are fitting, as the ending of Avengers: Infinity War sets the Marvel Cinematic Universe up for a storyline that is right out of Dragon Ball Z! Here's the breakdown:
"The Thanos Saga"
Dragon Ball Z was organized into story arcs (or "sagas") that were centered around powerful villains coming to Earth and/or other important planets, often with henchmen and/or armies at their disposal (Vegeta, Freeza, Cell, Buu). In Avengers: Infinity War, that's pretty much the same scenario we find with Thanos.
In Dragon Ball Z, villains are usually bent on obtaining some all-important mystical artifacts like the Dragon Balls, in order to either conquer something (Freeza) or to eradicate life in some way (Buu, Cell). In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is doing exactly that: trying to collect the Infinity Stones to fulfill his wish of a new universal order, by erasing half of all life in the universe. In other words: he basically wants to make a Dragon Balls wish!
"Dragon Ball: Sacrifice"
Dragon Ball Z's Freeza, Cell, and Buu sagas saw Goku and the Z-Fighter heroes trying to defeat villains that far outclassed them in terms of power, and were seemingly unstoppable. Not only did a portion of the heroes die in the line of battle (sometimes horrifically), but in a few cases, entire planets (including Earth) were ravaged, and the mass amounts of lives extinguished.
Often, the hardest part of the battle was for Goku and Co. to allow tragic deaths and destruction to take place, in order the achieve a "greater good" endgame that could allow them to defeat the evildoer, and use the mystical artifact MacGuffins (the Dragon Balls) to restore life in the universe to its normal, lively, state. If it isn't clear by now how that recurring connects to Avengers: Infinity War - and more importantly its sequel - allow us to fill in the blanks.
"Avengers 4: Dragon Ball A"
At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos gets al of the Infinity Stones and erases half of life in the universe, with a snap of his fingers and a Dragon Ball-style wish. While Thanos' victory is all-too traumatic for the people of Earth, the MCU Goku, Tony Stark, is on Titan with a crucial piece of knowledge: Based on Doctor Strange's test run of fourteen-million possible futures, Thanos had to get the full Infinity Gauntlet and be able to make his wish.
Only in the shadow of that defeat would the original Avengers (or the "A-Fighters") would be able to either power-up and/or obtain some fantastical MacGuffin, which will allow them ot eventually defeat the villain who is currently over-powering them, and use the main mystical MacGuffin to restore the universe (and all life therein) back to its original state.
There are so many other ways to connect the two franchises right now: whether its Thor's Dragon Ball-style quest for a power-up that will defeat the villain, or the mystery of the Soul World inside the Soul Stone, which could end up factoring into Avengers 4's story in much the same way as Goku, Vegeta, and others have had to literally come back from death or a spiritual world in order finish the fight. If we see Bucky, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and all the other dead heroes training and powering up in Soul World during Avengers 4, just don't try to say that Dragon Ball Z didn't pave the way!
If you don't by now believe that Avengers: Infinity War is playing from a Dragon Ball playbook, just re-read the above! Have you noticed any other anime influences in Marvel's latest movie? If so, let us know in the comments!
Avengers: Infinity War is now in theaters. Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.