There are several big-budget live-action versions of anime series including Avatar: The Last Airbender and One Piece on the way at Netflix, and there have been a few successful anime movie adaptations recently, such Detective Pikachu and Alita: Battle Angel. But live-action anime adaptations have not generally been covered in glory, with plenty of misfires along the way. One such disaster was 2009’s Dragonball Evolution starring James Marsters, best-known for playing Spike in the Buffy series.
At a convention in 2014 (via SlashFilm), Marsters spoke about his hopes for the movie; “Dragon Ball Z was important for me as a father, so I was really into it when I got the role. And they told me it was a $120 million picture, and that Stephen Chow was producing”
“And Stephen Chow is the director of Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer. They’re funny, goofy, violent, scary – everything you would need for Dragon Ball to work. And I get out to Durango, Mexico and it’s actually a $30 million picture and Stephen Chow is just on paper to fool us down into the desert.”
Marsters continued; “And they don’t even want to pay for the stuntman to get made up like me, so they never used the stuntman; they just kept putting me up on wires. I still have a separated clavicle from the shoot, because it was just gnarly. But I still wanted my son to at least like my part in it.”
The story has a somewhat tragic conclusion; “And so, my son was all excited about the movie, and so we go into the Cineplex (on opening night0, and he leads us into the theatre, and I’m like, ‘Please man, full house, opening night,’ and we walk in there and it’s packed. It smells like body odor, beautiful. And it’s hard to get three seats together, my daughter, my son and I, and we get three seats together and I’m so excited. Something in my brain goes off like, ‘This is too good to be true.'”
“And I lean over to the teenager next to me and say, ‘Is this Dragon Ball?’ and he goes, ‘What?’ and I go, ‘Is this Dragon Ball?’ And he goes, ‘What? No! This is Fast & Furious, man!’ So we get up, and we go across the hall to Dragon Ball; my son was so excited he led us into the wrong theatre. And I’m thinking, ‘Please man, just 50 people.’ And we walk in there, and including us three, there’s five people in the audience.”
We think in the case of Dragon Ball, it’s wise to keep things in the realm of anime – such as the upcoming Dragon Ball Super season two.