In 2001, The Fast and the Furious drove onto the scene in a NOS-fueled spectacle of action and illegal street racing. The film, directed by Rob Cohen, told the story of undercover cop Brian O’Conner (played by the late Paul Walker) who infiltrates a ring of nocturnal car enthusiasts in an attempt to bring down their leader, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel). The two then embark on one of the greatest bromances in cinema history.
This week sees the release of The Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the franchise. In the lead up to its opening, a few action-packed trailers set the stage for what was bound to be bat-shit levels of bombast and absurdity, including a sequence involving a torpedo-firing submarine in the Arctic. This display of set-piece moments that would put Uncharted to shame paints The Fate of the Furious as a far cry from the original Fast and the Furious. No longer is the Furious crew a ragtag group of street racers; they’re straight up super heroes.
To prepare for the release of Fate, I recently re-watched the original The Fast and the Furious just to see how far our favorite family has come. Let me tell you, articulating how they went from street-level car hustlers to government agents capable of flight is beyond my abilities as a writer, but boy am glad it happened. This series has come to embody everything I love about the super hero genre, and arguably gives anything Marvel or DC is putting out a serious run for its money.
Throughout eight films, Dom and crew have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and done so without ever shedding a drop of blood. Seriously, go watch Furious 7 again and tell me these people aren’t super humans. Even when Dom and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) beat the ever loving shit out of each other with car parts and cartoon-sized wrenches, there’s not a scrape or bruise on them. And this is after the two have engaged in a game of chicken in which neither side backs down and Dom’s car does a sick wheelie.
Another example of power levels that would strike envy into the heart of Superman like a sliver of Kryptonite is when Dom walks away from a flaming plane crash and a rolled car at the end of the sixth film with little to no visible physical damage.
The displays of power are not just physical, however. The character of Tej Parker (played by Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) goes through some kind of off-screen transformation that takes him from a garage owner and racing emcee, to a brilliant hacker and computer engineer basically on the same level as Marvel’s Jocasta. Tej has been written about in the the past on Unwinnable, but his transformation is so extreme that it’s worth mentioning again. Come to think of it, the arc of his character is the perfect parallel for the franchise as a whole: humble origins, absurd present.
I could (and have) spend hours discussing the evolution of the Fast and Furious franchise. In a film environment filled to the brim with action blockbusters and super heroes, Fast and Furious stands toe to toe with even the most explosive of them. I strongly believe that the Fast crew could stand a fighting chance against the Avengers, and at the pace this series is moving, this possibility is starting to feel inevitable.
Please make this happen, Hollywood.