Ralph Macchio on Why Jackie Chan & Jaden Smith Won’t Appear in ‘Cobra Kai’

Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan

Getty Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan at "The Karate Kid" premiere (2010).

Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” is known for bringing back characters from previous “Karate Kid” instalments. The revival of the old rivalry between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is what formed the foundation for the show back in season 1. By season 2, viewers saw Martin Kove, who plays the villainous Cobra Kai sensei, John Kreese, return to the franchise as a main cast member.

Other actors, such as Randee Heller as Daniel’s mother Lucille LaRusso, Elisabeth Shue as Daniel and Johnny’s old girlfriend Ali Mills, and Yuji Okumoto, who played Chozen Toguchi (Daniel’s nemesis in “The Karate Kid Part II”), among others, have returned to the show in recurring roles.

What of Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith – who played characters inspired by Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and Daniel, respectively – however? Well, although Will Smith, Jaden’s father, is an executive producer of the ongoing series, it is unlikely his son will ever appear as Dre Parker. In a YouTube interview on Wednesday, Macchio explained precisely why fans should not expect to see the characters make an appearance on the show.

Here’s what you need to know:

Macchio Says Jackie Chan & Jaden Smith Don’t Belong in the ‘Miyagi-verse’

Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid

YouTubePat Morita as Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid” (1984).

In the interview, Macchio explained that the “Miyagi-verse” (a fan-coined term adopted by the creators of the show which describes the canonical universe in which “The Karate Kid” takes place) consisted only of people who ever interacted with Mr. Miyagi. Therefore, given that Mr. Miyagi did not exist in the remake, any character in the 2010 film does not exist in the “Cobra Kai” universe. As Macchio explained:

Here’s the thing…there’s a simple answer to why that won’t work in the “Cobra Kai” universe, because [“Cobra Kai” co-creators] Jon [Hurwitz], Josh [Heald], and Hayden [Schlossberg] talk about the Miyagi-verse: anyone who knew Mr. Miyagi and interacted with Mr. Miyagi is canon for our show. Whereas [with] the characters of Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, they were not in that world, it was a remake.

The “Cobra Kai” creators also confirmed with SlashFilm in January that the remake’s characters are not a part of the Miyagi-verse. Hurwitz highlighted that such an appearance would be impossible, saying that Jackie Chan is mentioned as an actor early on in the show. “So,” he said, “I think in our world, Jackie Chan is an actor and a performer. If the characters on our show have seen a movie called ‘The Karate Kid,’ they’ve seen that one.”

This may be a relief to fans at large, given that, although the movie was largely successful in the box office, it was not received so well either by fans or by critics. Even today, over a decade later, fans are still largely apathetic about the movie, and generally express relief at hearing it is unlikely to be revived in “Cobra Kai.”

Macchio Hints at Return of ‘The Next Karate Kid’ Star

Hilary Swank As Julie Pierce In The Next Karate Kid

GettyHilary Swank as Julie Pierce in “The Next Karate Kid” (1994).

In the YouTube interview, Macchio did hint at the possibility of another “Karate Kid” star appearing in the Netflix series, however. “But to the flip side of that,” he said, “someone like Julie Pierce, who is Hilary Swank’s role, did know Miyagi, so there’s always a chance for maybe that.”

Macchio is referring to Hilary Swank’s role of Julie Pierce in “The Next Karate Kid,” a 1994 film which acted as a continuation of the original trilogy. Although Macchio does not appear as Daniel LaRusso in the film, Pat Morita returns as Mr. Miyagi to instruct Julie, a high school teenager, in the ways of karate.

Although the 1994 film was likewise not very well-received by critics, it seems to be much more popular among fans, who seem to be excited about the possibility of Swank returning to the franchise in “Cobra Kai.”

Although we do not yet know for sure whether Julie Pierce will be coming back, we may find out in season 4 of the series. Be sure to tune in to the upcoming season when it is released on Netflix December 31.

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