Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero introduced fans to Beast Gohan, but Gohan was the strongest fighter long before that transformation was revealed.
While Gohan seemed to have been left in the dust in terms of power level within Dragon Ball’s current continuity of Dragon Ball Super, the film Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero completely flips that notion by showing that Gohan is perhaps the strongest fighter on Earth–and that wasn’t the first time.
In Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero written by Akira Toriyama and directed by Tetsuro Kodama, the Z-Fighters are under attack as the Red Ribbon Army has risen once more and hired Dr. Hedo, the grandson of Dr. Gero–the scientist behind the creation of Cell and the Androids–to build all-new Androids the Red Ribbon Army can use to take over the world. Before that could happen, however, the Red Ribbon Army had to get rid of the Z-Fighters as they were notorious for eliminating anyone or anything that threatened the world. In that effort, the Red Ribbon Army targeted two people: Piccolo and Gohan. Piccolo was attacked outright by the Android Gamma 2, whereas the Red Ribbon Army decided to kidnap Gohan’s daughter in an effort to get him to surrender–and that was probably the worst mistake they could have made. After Gohan used his established strength to bring the Red Ribbon Army to its knees, Cell Max is released from his containment, and he unleashes a power that could have leveled the entire world. It is during this fight that fans are introduced to Gohan’s most powerful transformation, and possibly the most powerful transformation in all of Dragon Ball: Beast Gohan.
In Dragon Ball chapter 409 by Akira Toriyama, the Cell Games are well underway, and it is Gohan’s turn to fight the villainous Cell. Previously on Dragon Ball Z, Goku gave up during his fight with Cell to allow Gohan a chance to use his newfound power to stop him, as Goku was convinced that Gohan was the most powerful fighter they had–and that included himself. However, the only way for Gohan to unlock that power was for him to be fueled by blinding rage, and when Gohan first stepped into the ring, he didn’t have that feeling. So, Cell decided he would bring Gohan’s repressed rage to the surface by threatening his friends and family with his Cell Juniors–and as this chapter shows, that did the trick.
Gohan’s Super Saiyan 2 Reveal was Just as Impressive as Beast Gohan
After Cell threatened the other Z-Fighters, Gohan unlocked Super Saiyan 2–a transformation that no one had reached before, making him the strongest fighter on the planet. This moment was huge as it was the ultimate payoff for something that had been teased for years leading up to this point. Way back in the early days of Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta reveals that Saiyans who are part human actually have the potential to become stronger than full-blooded Saiyans. While Gohan was always impressive for his age in terms of power level and battle readiness, he never did anything that astonishing–until he unlocked Super Saiyan 2 and obliterated Cell the same way his future self would unlock Beast Gohan and obliterate Cell Max.
There are a lot of parallels to draw between Gohan’s first real exhibition of unparalleled power and his latest one, but the most important thing to remember is that Beast Gohan wasn’t the only time he was the most powerful fighter on Earth as Gohan proved to be Dragon Ball’s strongest long before Dragon Ball Super.