The adventures of Daniel LaRusso and other Karate Kid characters have continued on Cobra Kai, the break-out series of YouTube Premium. The show's second season released this past April, bringing even more depth to a world that had previously been confined to a couple of movies. However, there are still characters from the original franchise that have not come back around, and die-hard fans believe they could take a prominent role in the show.
The Karate Kid first premiered in 1984. It tells the story of a working class kid from New Jersey, Daniel LaRusso who finds himself bullied in his new school in Los Angeles, California. Daniel — played by Ralph Macchio — finds solace in martial arts thanks to private lessons from Mr. Miyagi.
There were two direct sequels to The Karate Kid, as well as a fourth movie later on called The Next Karate Kid, following Mister Miyagi and his new pupil. After that, the franchise was rebooted in 2010, with Jackie Chan filling the sensei role as Mr. Han, and Jaden Smith playing the pupil, Dre Parker.
Now, rather than continuing or remaking the story, Cobra Kai has shifted the focus of the story to the dojo that originally served as the antagonist in the story. The series picks up 34 years after the events of The Karate Kid, with many original characters coming back again. The main character is Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), the young martial artist who Daniel beat against all odds in the first movie.
Many other characters both big and small show up in the series, and fans are hoping even more will follow. Most recently, there has been talk of Elisabeth Shue from the first film to appear in the upcoming third season, but if it will even happen is still just rumor, according to stars, Macchio and Zabka in an interview with PopCulture.com.
First up is Terry Silver, the insidious, if a little over-the-top villain from The Karate Kid Part III. Silver — played by Thomas Ian Griffith — represents some of the melodrama of the franchise, which Cobra Kai has shown it is willing to embrace.
Beyond that, he turned out to be the owner of the Cobra Kai dojo, so he could very well find a place in the story going forward. To top it off, Cobra Kai has brought back John Kreese (Martin Kove), so it makes sense that Terry might come back too.
Another apt character to bring back from The Karate Kid Part III could be Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan). There's nothing too special about Barnes, he simply filled the same bully role that Johnny Lawrence filled in the original movie. Still, as we watch Johnny's character get fleshed out more and more, it might make sense to see a foil like this rear his head once again.
Over the course of Cobra Kai, we have seen all of Johnny's original friends in their grown up form except for one: Dutch. The martial arts bully, played by Chad McQueen, was mentioned in one episode, where his friends noted that he was in prison for the foreseeable future.
Some speculated that McQueen turned down the show, but it could be that they were simply saving Dutch for his big appearance later on.
In The Karate Kid Part II, Daniel traveled to Okinawa with Mr. Miyagi. While his teacher was reunited with his old rival, Daniel made a new one of his own, a young martial artist named Chozen (Yuji Okumoto).
Chozen would be a great character to come back for Cobra Kai, as his business with Daniel was left a little unfinished. Moreover, it would be nice to see a piece of Mr. Miyagi's past back on the screen, and to get another character of Asian descent on a show that centers around Eastern martial arts.
By the same token, Kumiko would make a strong addition to the show as well. Kumiko was Daniel's love interest in The Karate Kid Part II, and could bring some welcome representation to the series.
Kumiko was played by Tamlyn Tomita, who has gone on to become a successful actress beyond the franchise. She has had recent roles on shows like The Man in the High Castle and The Good Doctor, and major film appearances like The Day After Tomorrow. If she were given a chance, she could likely recapture the role of Kumiko and add some more depth to her, as Cobra Kai has done with other characters.
As mentioned above, The Next Karate Kid did not follow Daniel at all, but instead a character named Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank), who got martial arts lessons from Mr. Miyagi. Pierce was a rebellious student, but that could make her that much more compelling if she returned to share her grief for Mr. Miyagi with Daniel, and perhaps even aid him in raising the next generation.
Of course, The Next Karate Kid is widely considered the weakest film in the franchise, but Cobra Kai has made a point of steering into the parts of the story that some might see as its blemishes. If the show could successfully make Julie Pierce relatable, it might win over a whole new crop of skeptical fans.
Part of what made The Karate Kid so universal was the feeling of being the new kid in school. Everyone related to Daniel's alienation in Los Angeles, and the struggle of trying to make friends. One of Daniel's only partial successes in that arena is Freddy Fernandez (Israel Juarbe), the neighbor who he chats with a few times in the movie.
Freddy isn't a major character in the movie, but he does have an arc. After teasing Daniel for his interest in martial arts, he shows up at the All-Valley Tournament to cheer him on. Considering some of the other minor characters that came back in Cobra Kai, it seems reasonable that Freddy could make an appearance as well.
Finally, it seems like only a matter of time before a character from The Karate Kid remake shows up in Cobra Kai. In 2010, the original story was retold with new characters filling the familiar roles. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the two movies could co-exist in one universe, and Cobra Kai would be exactly the place to bring them together.
Obviously, it would be amazing to see Jackie Chan make a cameo as Mr. Han. It would be equally amazing if Jaden Smith reprised his role as Dre Parker for the show. Any number of other characters could stop by, however, just to give us a nod and a wink saying that the world is big enough for all of them to share.
Cobra Kai Seasons 1 and 2 are available now on YouTube. The streaming service has renewed the show for another season, expected sometime next year.
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