It's been some time since new anime content for Dragon Ball Super dropped, but the beloved franchise is set to get a new anime film in 2022 with Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. While details on what exactly Goku and the Z Fighters are up against are still being kept tightly under wraps, a new teaser image from the upcoming film has been released, bringing together all the anticipated main characters.
Aside from the familiar faces rejoining the proceedings, several new characters are included in the teaser image, including what appears to be new potential androids and shady businessmen pulling the strings. If one of the purported figures is indeed an antagonist, this would be in line with a tradition that has been with the Dragon Ball franchise since the beginning.
Among the figures assembled in the image is a sneering man wearing a maroon suit and drinking tea. He is flanked by what appears to be a no-nonsense assistant, with the taller man communicating through an earpiece. Just to reach his assistant's torso, the maroon-clad figure must climb a small set of stairs. While neither character's name has yet been revealed, the more diminutive character joins a growing number of Dragon Ball antagonists that are short in stature and overcompensating for how self-conscious this makes them, often fueling their villainous plans.
The first major antagonist in the original Dragon Ball series was Emperor Pilaf, a self-proclaimed monarch who sought to use the Dragon Balls to make himself emperor of the world. Befitting Pilaf's stature, he often behaved like a spoiled child before the Dragon Balls accidentally transformed him into an actual child in Dragon Ball Super. However, Dragon Ball's most evil villain of diminutive height was General Red, a paramilitary commander who risked the lives of the entire Red Ribbon Army to gain the Dragon Balls not for global conquest, but simply to wish to become taller.
The recurring joke of short villains would persist in Dragon Ball Z, with Android 15 in the non-canonical anime film Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! falling deeply into snowbanks and having to work his way out, while Guldo of the Ginyu Force was viewed as the biggest joke among the elite squad for his stature and weaker power levels. Dragon Ball Super would revisit this with one of the franchise's biggest antagonists, Frieza, who sought the Dragon Balls not to gain immortality, as he originally planned in DBZ, but instead to make himself taller; the interstellar despot was still incredibly self-conscious about his height despite all the worlds he had personally conquered.
For franchise creator Toriyama Akira, the idea of short villains that overcompensate for their frustration over their height is clearly a running gag that he enjoys employing, and has done since the very beginning of the franchise. It's unclear how much the unnamed antagonist in Super Hero is informed over the perception surrounding his height, but the presence of the stairs just to stand next to his assistant in the teaser image suggests this joke is making something of a comeback. And with a teaser trailer revealing these suited figures have plans involving Majin Buu and Vegeta, perhaps this resentment is fueled by his targets being taller than him as he launches his unknown plot in the upcoming anime film.