In comic book history, Akira Toriyama’s Goku (from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z) ranks towards the top in not just super strength, but also in how much joy fans derive in talking about just how strong Goku is and which other characters from other pop culture series that he would be able to defeat in battle. What discussions about Omega Level Mutants are to X-Men fans is what “Who can Goku beat up?” discussions are to Dragon Ball Z fans.
With that in mind, one of the most common types of memes out there are those that pit Goku against superheroes, more specifically, those that exist in the Marvel Universe. There are so many hilarious match-ups out there in the rather extensive Marvel Universe that there is an almost limitless collection of memes that have Goku take on practically the entire Marvel Universe (and then the collection of memes that show the Marvel Universe fighting back). Here, we will share 15 of these Goku vs. Marvel memes with you.
15. SPLITTING THE BILL
By far, the most popular meme that has to do with the theme of Goku vs. the Marvel Universe is this meme, which shows Goku and his rival/friend Vegeta deciding to take on the entire Marvel Universe in one fight. What really sells this meme is the dismissiveness of the dialogue. It is a perfect example of the sort of trash talk that drives rival fans crazy but also sets up for very fun debates between fandoms.
Vegeta, by the way (who is handling all of the characters on the left), was originally one of the more bloodthirsty villains in the Dragon Ball series, but over the years, he has slowly mellowed out. It has gotten to the point where he and Goku are more friends than enemies now.
14. PAYMENT DENIED
Of course, when you put out a brash meme like “Goku and Vegeta splitting the entire Marvel Universe down the middle,” you’re bound to anger fans of the Marvel Universe. Their response is to then show what happens after Goku and Vegeta made their boastful promise, which is namely that the Marvel Universe ate them for breakfast.
In particular, it is amusing to see the Hulk casually introduced as a surprise factor in a battle between the two warriors and the Marvel heroes. Imagine just minding your own business, taking on ten superheroes at once when suddenly the Hulk enters the scenario and alters the fight in a very dramatic fashion. It is also important to note that both Goku and Vegeta have had enough losses in their anime “careers” that there is always enough fodder to show them in bad spots.
13. SPIDER-MAN IS ABOVE IT ALL
The king of comic book memes is still the 1960s Spider-Man, as there were so many odd decisions in how Spider-Man was depicted in that cartoon series that they end up making wonderful memes because Spider-Man ends up striking the oddest poses. In this meme, we see Spider-Man deciding that he is far too distinguished to get involved in one of the biggest “Who would win?” debate in comic book history — Superman vs. Goku.
Since both characters came to Earth from other planets and both characters are known to have achieved shocking feats of strength (Superman moving whole planets, Goku seeming to be able to tear the universe apart from his punches), fans can’t help but be obsessed with who would ultimately win in a fight between them. Spider-Man, though, is above that type of discussion.
12. SUPERMAN’S NOT THE ONLY HERO THAT GOKU IS SIMILAR TO…
As noted, the fact that Goku and Superman both came to Earth as children from other planets has certainly set the two of them up as being analogous to each other. However, this amusing meme suggests that there is a different comic book character that Goku also bears a good deal of resemblance to: Wolverine.
Both Wolverine and Goku have hair that seems to stand up on its own power, both of them have memory loss when they were young that kept them from knowing where they came from, and both of them were surprisingly short for how powerful they are. In Goku’s case, though, he eventually grew out of his stunted growth phase while Wolverine remains quite diminutive. The Goku/Vegeta relationship is also somewhat reminiscent of the Wolverine/Cyclops uneasy friendship.
11. THANOS MAKES HIS MOVE
There are certain characters that get a good deal of respect in the world of “Who would win?” debates. Obviously, Goku is one of the most notable characters, but another one is Thanos, who has shown that he has the ability to also be taken seriously as the type of character who could at least, in theory, take on the entire Marvel Universe.
In fact, Thanos literally did just that in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, where the Mad Titan traveled the galaxy and put together all of the Infinity gems (now “Infinity Stones”) to create the Infinity Gauntlet. He then wiped out half the Marvel Universe with one snap of his fingers. Thus, there is a popular series of memes that depict Thanos as wiping the floor with Goku.
10. WILL THE REAL PROTECTORS PLEASE STAND UP
One of the fascinating things about the evolution of the Dragon Ball universe is not just the gradual growth of Goku from a child to a teen to an adult hero, but the fact that he has managed to transform a good deal of the Saiyans that he has encountered over the years from being bloodthirsty warriors who wanted to destroy Earth to now becoming heroes who actually are willing to defend it.
Each of the Saiyans are so strong that it really does seem to put the Avengers to shame when it comes to pure power levels. The current Dragon Ball series (Dragon Ball Super) sees the heroes moving on to almost god-like levels as they fight bigger and more powerful threats.
9. SPIDER-MAN KNOWS THE BETTER PART OF VALOR
You might have noticed that the undercurrent in a lot of these memes has been the same basic approach that was established in the initial Goku/Vegeta meme, which is not only that we are establishing that these Saiyans are very powerful beings, but they are so powerful that the otherwise normally powerful Marvel heroes are now put into a position of subservience in comparison.
This meme gets that point across, where Spider-Man is gung-ho on taking on Venom one-on-one; then his bravado quickly evaporates when he realizes that Venom might be too powerful for him. Instead, he just quickly decides to call Goku and have the Saiyan fight his battles for him. It’s intentionally meant to be demeaning towards Spider-Man’s strength levels, and is also pretty hilarious.
8. CELEBRATING THE JOY OF BATTLE
Something that has to be understood about the various Dragon Ball series to fully appreciate the concept is the idea that these characters, when they’re not defending the Earth against threats to the planet, are characters who just legitimately like to fight. So much of the many Dragon Ball series are about tournaments where various characters pit one another against each other to test their strength. The more that they can push themselves, the better.
Thus, the scenario described in this meme, where the Marvel Universe is also joined by the DC Universe (courtesy of the JLA vs. Avengers crossover), is pretty much about as close the ideal scenario for nearly all of the Saiyans who are involved in the Dragon Ball stories. Talk about a tournament for the ages!
7. GOKU’S SECRET EMPIRE
In 2016, Captain America, who had lost his Super Soldier Serum abilities and was thus a man in his 90s, regained his youth and his powers thanks to a sentient Cosmic Cube known as Kobik. The problem was that Kobik’s only friend since she became sentient was the Red Skull and thus, when she restored Captain America’s body, she also altered his reality and made him loyal to Hydra. This was revealed at the end of the first issue of Steve Rogers: Captain America, where Cap seemingly killed Jack Flag and proclaimed “Hail Hydra.”
This shocking twist soon led to a bunch of memes where other pop culture characters made similar dramatic pronouncements, like Daredevil revealing that he isn’t really blind or Batman revealing that he killed his parents. And then there’s Vegeta, known detractor of Frieza’s army, pledging fealty to his greatest enemy.
6. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Goku has gone though a number of developments over the years, as Akira Toriyama would routinely adapt the character to new plots and situations. When Toriyama introduced Goku in the earliest Dragon Ball stories, he based him on the mythical monkey hero, Sun Wukong, from the legendary Chinese novel, Journey to the West. Rather than making Goku an outright monkey, Toriyama instead just gave him a monkey’s tail (Goku lost it over the years).
Even without the tail, though, Goku’s monkey-like ancestry remains one of the most notable ways to insult him and that’s the route that Thanos takes in this meme. Of course, Thanos would naturally take exception to someone else trying to take on the Marvel Universe without first acknowledging that he successfully did so himself back in Infinity Gauntlet.
5. NOT-SO-FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN
One of the strangest transformations in the character of Goku happened in the Dragon Ball Z series, where Akira Toriyama introduced the concept of Super Saiyans. The concept that Saiyans could transform into a more powerful version of themselves was always considered merely a legend (but just the fear over that legend led to Frieza trying to destroy the Saiyan’s home planet). Goku, though, made the legend a reality when he transformed into his Super Saiyan form. Then he did it a few more times to ever-increasing variations.
The weird thing is that in his Super Saiyan form, Goku becomes more powerful but he also sees his hair transform from black to blonde. It’s one of the oddest ways to signify an increase in power in popular culture, and also one of the most iconic. In this meme, Spider-Man mocks his Super Saiyan look.
4. YOU CAN’T TEAR GOKU AWAY FROM THIS FIGHT
For decades, the Marvel Universe was notable in the fact that it really did not have a character that was the equivalent of Superman. The closest that there was was Hyperion, who had been created as part of a clever “secret” crossover between the Avengers and the Justice League where the Avengers fought the Squadron Sinister, with each member of the team representing a Justice League member. Nighthawk was Batman, Doctor Spectrum was Green Lantern, Whizzer was Flash and Hyperion was Superman.
In the last two decades, though, Marvel has been really pushing the Superman analogues, like Blue Marvel and Sentry. During the Siege crossover, Sentry showed his Superman-like abilities by tearing Ares in half. In this meme, it is Goku who gets the “torn apart” treatment.
3. CALLING IN THE RESERVES
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hulk is treated almost like their trump card. In a memorable moment in Avengers, Iron Man and Loki are bantering and Loki explains why the Avengers should fear him. After all, he has a Chitauri army. Tony Stark is not impressed, however, because he knows that the Avengers have a Hulk.
In the Dragon Ball universe, the Saiyan known as Broly, when he is in his “Legendary” Super Saiyan form, is even more powerful than Goku! if Broly were ever to transform into the next level above Super Saiyan, he would likely be powerful enough to punch holes in the galaxy. Thus, the Dragon Ball characters are unimpressed with any threat coming from the Hulk! The Hulk is great, but he’s no Broly!
2. BRINGING IN THE REALLY BIG GUNS
As noted earlier, the Marvel Universe equivalent of the repeated discussions about which Saiyan is the most powerful would clearly be the everlasting debate over which Omega Level Mutant is the most powerful. In the hierarchy of Omega Level Mutants, the one character who has a special place in the hearts of most Marvel fans is Franklin Richards, the young son of Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four. Ever since he was a child, Franklin seemed to have almost limitless power.
However, during Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four run, we see that when Franklin became an adult, he was even more powerful than anyone could ever dreamed. Adult Franklin used Galactus… as his own herald! Thus, this meme suggests that however strong Goku might be, adult Franklin Richards is even more powerful.
1. NOW, THAT’S JUST UNFAIR
With the obsession over who is the strongest and who could defeat whom, the manga writer who goes by the pseudonym One, came up with a clever take off on these debates. In 2009, he introduced One Punch Man. One Punch Man is a hero who can literally defeat anyone with, well, one punch. The problem for him is that when you can defeat anyone with a single punch, then what is there left for you to do in the world? It’s an interesting examination of ennui.
Well, with all of the debates over who Goku could beat up, this meme suggests an amusing scenario where Rogue uses her absorption powers to absorb One Punch Man’s abilities and then settle the whole “Goku vs. Superman” debate once and for all.
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