Three directions the new ‘Karate Kid’ movie could take

Cobra Kai
Photo via Netflix

It was only a matter of time. Sony recently announced news that delighted Karate Kid and Cobra Kai fans everywhere: A new movie is on the way set in the Karate Kid universe. The last time we saw a Karate Kid movie was the 2010 reboot with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.

While that movie was successful, it also premiered before the runaway hit netflix show Cobra Kai, which has significantly expanded the Karate Kid universe. With the number of new characters available for a new movie, there’s no telling where the story could go.

What movies are in the ‘Karate Kid’ universe?

The extended Karate Kid universe is sometimes referred to as the Miyagiverse after Daniel Larusso’s (Ralph Macchio) original mentor Mr. Miyagi (the excellent Pat Morita). It includes the original movie, The Karate Kid Part IIPart III, and The Next Karate Kid (with Hilary Swank) as well as of course the Cobra Kai series.

The 2010 Will Smith-produced movie was a remake and didn’t spawn any sequels and is not considered canon in the Miyagiverse. William Zabka, star of the Netflix series, has previously said that the show could end and turn into a series of movies, so that’s always a possibility as well. Let’s explore where the films could potentially go.

The Cobra Kai route

Cobra Kai
Screengrab via YouTube

The most obvious route to a new Karate Kid movie would be through the boulevard of Cobra Kai. The show has already done all the heavy lifting in terms of character introduction and development, and now that the show is in its fifth season there are numerous storylines to either jack up or expand.

Some things that have already been mentioned in the season but didn’t happen could very well be the basis for a new movie. Stars like Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña), Samantha LaRusso (Mary Mouser), Tory Nichols (Peyton List), and Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz (Jacob Bertrand) could all be potential leads in a big screen version.

Considering the show was born from the movie, it would make a sort of cyclical sense for it to become a movie all over again. This would be the easiest way to move forward with a full movie but it’s not neccesarily the most likely outcome by any means.

Remake the original

Karate Kid
Photo via Columbia Pictures

Sony’s original announcement was fairly vague and included the idea that it would remake “the original Karate Kid franchise.” This could potentially mean a brand-new remake like the 2010 version or a new version with established characters that shares plot points or story beats with the original.

This is probably the least likely scenario considering the show was more of a remake with different characters for the most part, as well. It could also cast a brand-new LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi, although that could muddy the water in terms of canon storytelling with a third (fourth?!) set of characters in the universe.

Going this route would, however, show a certain reverence for the source material and with a built-in fan base and with the right names behind it could indeed be something special. Cobra Kai became so revered because it took something seemingly dated and uncool and turned it into one of the biggest shows of the decade.

There’s no reason a remake couldn’t have the same impact. It would definitely be an uphill battle when it came to getting fans on board, especially until they saw the final product. It’s hard to take a beloved franchise and do something completely new with it, although Cobra Kai itself is a good argument against that.

Regardless, this would be the most difficult route but it’s also probably what’s going to happen.

Spin-off a popular character from the Miyagiverse

Sam LaRusso in Cobra Kai
Photo via Netflix

The third option for a new Karate Kid is potentially the most likely, which would be to take a popular character from the show like Miguel Diaz, Samantha LaRusso, or Tory Nichols. This would take a character arc from the show and move it into new territory possibly.

The most obvious choices are one of the three young characters, and while Maridueña would make the most sense, Mouser would also be a smart choice. She’s incredibly popular and it would continue the universe’s tradition of putting women in lead roles.

Speaking of which, a movie with Mouser in the lead and Hilary Swank as a mentor (we’ve yet to see Swank in Cobra Kai) would make for a powerful statement and probably attract a lot of original fans.

A potential complication

Ralph Macchio in 'Cobra Kai'
Photo via Netflix

All of these suppositions come from a place where the Cobra Kai showrunner Jon Hurwitz is going to be a part of the remake. On Sept. 17, he threw a wrench into those plans.

A user on Twitter asked Hurwitz “have you heard anything about a new movie for karate kid??? is it real?” Hurwitz answered honestly:

“The guys and I would love to make Karate Kid and Cobra Kai movies and hope to someday. But this one isn’t from us or focused on the Cobra Kai cast. Don’t know much about it, but wish it well.”

This could potentially mean that Cobra Kai won’t be a part of the movie at all in the future, which would make the “original story” direction of the new movie that much more plausible. This would also add problems. A standalone Karate Kid movie would mean that the franchise would have to compete with the already established rules of Cobra Kai.

As we’ve seen with properties like Sonic The Hedgehog and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, rebooting beloved franchises isn’t always easy. Rebooting an entire franchise while it’s already been rebooted as a TV show and not using any of those characters is not going to be an easy pill for fans to swallow.

However, this is Hollywood and things change all the time, and the new movie isn’t scheduled for release until June 7 of 2024, so a lot could change between now and then. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear anything else.