Sony Pictures’ announced Karate Kid movie isn’t part of Netflix’s Cobra Kai TV universe, which must mean it’s a reboot. Sounds like a bad idea.
Sony Pictures announced a new Karate Kid movie, and it sounds like a bad idea. The Karate Kid, which is slated for theatrical release in June 2024, has no attached director or actors. However, Cobra Kai executive producer Jon Hurwitz confirmed on Twitter that he and his partners, Josh Heald and Hayden Schlossberg, are not involved with and know nothing about the new Karate Kid movie. If The Karate Kid 2024 isn’t a continuation of Cobra Kai, then it hints that the new movie is a reboot, which sounds like an even worse idea.
The announcement of a new Karate Kid movie was certainly a surprise, even to Cobra Kai’s creative team, apparently. Of course, Cobra Kai continues the “Miyagiverse” that began with 1984’s The Karate Kid, which spawned three sequels, The Karate Kid Part II, and Part III, which starred Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, and The Next Karate Kid starring Morita and Hilary Swank. In 2010, Sony rebooted The Karate Kid, which was produced by Will Smith and starred Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. Set in its own canon not related to the “Miyagiverse” films, The Karate Kid 2010 instead followed the familiar beats of the original 1984 film, and it was linked in spirit. However, despite Jackie Chan, The Karate Kid 2010 didn’t create sequels, and its events are not considered canon by Cobra Kai, which is the official continuation of The Karate Kid movie continuity starring Macchio and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence.
Hurwitz’s tweet dashed hopes of the best-case scenario Karate Kid fans hoped for, that the new movie would actually be the big-screen leap of Cobra Kai after the series ends on Netflix. This would have paid off comments by Zabka and Macchio hinting at “a trilogy” of Cobra Kai movies after the TV show wraps, as well as potential spinoffs for some of Cobra Kai’s characters. Compounding confusion about Sony’s upcoming film is that the studio promised it would be “the return of the original Karate Kid franchise” – even though that’s exactly what Cobra Kai is already. All of this points to a Karate Kid movie reboot, which would be ill-advised.
Will Daniel & Mr. Miyagi Be Recast?
If The Karate Kid 2024 reboots the familiar story, it likely means the film could retell Daniel LaRusso meeting Mr. Miyagi and his high school conflict with Cobra Kai, only set in the present day. But this unavoidably means recasting the core roles of Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi, and likely the other major supporting players like Daniel-san’s rival, Johnny Lawrence. Considering how iconic The Karate Kid’s leads are, this sounds like it’s doomed for failure.
Granted, films like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films proved that it is possible to successfully recast William Shatner’s Captain Kirk with Chris Pine and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock with Zachary Quinto, but any recasting of Daniel and Mr. Miyagi will likely be met with resistance. Mr. Miyagi, especially, is a character Cobra Kai has venerated and refused to recast (even in flashbacks) because it seems like an impossible task to replace or succeed Pat Morita. Further, if The Karate Kid 2024 attempts to gender-swap Daniel or Miyagi’s characters, that would open up a whole different can of worms, and it would result in Sony being bombarded with the predictable negative online reaction, which would be as toxic as what the studio endured with the all-female 2016 Ghostbusters.
A Karate Kid Reboot Would Unfavorably Compete With Cobra Kai
Although there is an appeal to the idea of modernizing the 1984 Karate Kid story, which could theoretically make it relevant to current audiences instead of trading on the nostalgia for the original films that Cobra Kai specializes in, that’s also exactly what Cobra Kai has been doing with its huge cast of younger characters. Cobra Kai has been brilliant by looking at the events of Johnny and Daniel’s teenage years and their rivalry through a modern lens, and the series has also been savvy with how their children like Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) and Samantha LaRusso (Mary Mouser) have repeated their fathers’ mistakes but in ways that reflect their lives as Gen Z kids.
Cobra Kai is also aggressively pushing The Karate Kid story forward and into surprising new directions, like introducing the international Sekai Taikai karate tournament in season 5. The series has brought back numerous movie legacy characters like Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), Jessica Andrews (Robyn Lively), Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan), and Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) so that the adults make new mistakes while their teenage students cope with the fallout while navigating their own high school rivalries. A Karate Kid movie reboot that repeats Daniel and Miyagi’s original story would feel reductive whereas Cobra Kai feels progressive.
Lastly, Cobra Kai is globally popular as one of Netflix’s biggest shows worldwide. Rather than tapping into that audience, a Karate Kid movie reboot risks alienating those same viewers, who would much prefer to see their favorite Cobra Kai characters have their stories continued in a movie instead. It seems especially questionable if The Karate Kid movie is a reboot that introduces a new “Daniel LaRusso” when the original is still so vital in Cobra Kai and a new “Mr. Miyagi” when Pat Morita’s memory is at the very heart of Cobra Kai.