Cobra Kai is the sequel series we didn't realize we wanted that's 1,000 better than we could have expected. Deepening the mythology of The Karate Kid, taking the original 1984 film's hero and bully and broadening both of them into ever more multi-dimensional co-protagonists and co-antagonists, the hit YouTube series is more than fan service, Easter eggs, and nostalgia, 'though there's plenty of that, too. Here we'll take a look at 10 super cool facts about Cobra Kai.
A 3-D Johnny Lawrence.
The three main producers behind Cobra Kai are Karate Kid all super fans. Something William Zabka said in the special edition DVD really resonated with them. Zabka based his performance on Johnny's first line in the script - "I'm an ex-degenerate... I have one year to make it work" and his last, "You're all right, LaRusso. Good match." This idea of a three-dimensional Johnny Lawrence was the spark for Cobra Kaii.
Hot Tub Time Machine
Cobra Kai's co-creators and co-showrunners are Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg - the duo behind the Harold and Kumar movies - and Josh Heald, who made Hot Tub Time Machine. Heald wrote a cameo for Zabka in Hot Tub Time Machine and his partners had made similar invitations for their movies, so they were all acquainted with him. The trio pitched Cobra Kai to Zabka over lunch, which came to him as a complete surprise. "I had no idea it would be this, not in a million years," the actor told AdWeek. "I walked away from this restaurant shell-shocked, almost like a girlfriend came back and said, 'I want to give it another go."
The reluctant sensei.
Zabka wasn't keen on Johnny reopening the Cobra Kai dojo, at least not at first. "It was a little painful in a way," he told the crowd during a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival. "It's Pandora's Box for him. It's the snake that bit him, you know." The writers and producers eventually brought him around and got him fully onboard.
Will Smith is a producer.
Both William Zabka and Ralph Macchio received executive producer credits on the Cobra Kai series. There's also a producer credit for A-list movie star Will Smith and his brother-in-law, Caleeb Pinkett. That's because Overbrook Entertainment, the production company headed up by Will and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, controlled a portion of the rights to The Karate Kid, ever since their son starred in the 2010 remake opposite Jackie Chan. Overbrook loved the Cobra Kai pitch, as did the executives at Sony, whose Columbia Pictures was the studio behind all five of the Karate Kid movies.
Back to the Future
During the original Karate Kid shoot, late director John G. Avildsen shot hours of tournament footage from multiple angles. The super fans behind Cobra Kai raided the studio vault and found a ton of killer never-been-seen clips, which they were able to introduce into the series via flashbacks. One of them includes Zabka's real life mom, who was in the stands in different angles that went unseen until 2018. Ralph Macchio told Uproxx there are three brand new angles of the famous crane kick.
The twist was in the original pitch.
This part of the video contains spoilers for Cobra Kai season 1, so you've been warned. The season ends with the surprise appearance of Johnny's old Sensei, John Kreese. Heald told AdWeek that twist was in their original pitch. "We always knew the season was going to end where it does, and we've always had an idea of where it's going after that. We weren't just jumping off into the great unknown."
So, what's in store for John Kreese?
Actor Martin Kove did a series of interviews in the wake of Cobra Kai season 1 to talk about that surprise ending. When asked if the show's producers shared what's in store for Kreese in season two with him, he admitted: "No, they really didn't. I said very clearly to them, is this character going to be a villain. And they said, very, very clearly, that he's going to be a little bit good and a little bit bad. That's all I got." He did tell Forbes that Zabka and Macchio said he'd be a regular in seasons 2 and 3.
Will Johnny and Daniel fight again?
Late in season 1, after a night of drinking together, Johnny and Daniel return to the LaRusso home dojo prepared to have a friendly rematch in the spirit of Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa at the end of Rocky III. They don't end up going through with it. The show's producers intentionally saved any Daniel-Johnny rematch for later. "Everyone's asking, 'When are they going to fight?' Which we call the Ross and Rachel of our show," Macchio explained to AdWeek. "You've got to keep that out there, but you can't have them fight too soon. Or it might be a short series!" Hurwitz later confirmed to Cinema Blend, "It feels like that's the ultimate destiny for these characters at this point, is to, at some point, come to that head. It's just a matter of when, and if, it's actually going to happen. But that feels like that's in the ether."
The door is open to Hillary Swank.
One of the many things we loved about Cobra Kai was the fact that the super fans behind it made the awesome choice to recognize all three sequels as canon. This means Terry Silver exists in this universe. He's even mentioned in one scene. It also means that Julie Pierce, played by future two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank in The Next Karate Kid, is out there, too. Producers told Slash film that Daniel and Julie definitely know each other. "They were both very important to Mr. Miyagi," Hurwtiz said. "We have not yet reached out to Hilary Swank but we do think about her as somebody who is part of the Karate Kid canon and who could exist in the world of Cobra Kai." Heald added that all four movies "have Miyagi in them as a throughline."
Will we see Ali in season 2?
In a fantastic report from Indiewire, Schlossberg dropped some pretty strong hints when asked about Elisabeth Shue. "There's no question that this whole story with Ali that she's the Helen of Troy of the Johnny, Daniel rivalry," he noted. "We just love all the characters, all the actors from the original movie. And so, anything is possible." We know at least one fan who'd be stoked to see Ali show up in Season 2: Patton Oswalt, who Tweeted that one of the stories, "HAS to be Elisabeth Shue, and how she haunts both of these hilarious, damaged Valley dudes."