Ever since Johnny Lawrence’s defeat in the 1983 All Valley Karate Tournament in “The Karate Kid,” fans have been wondering what happened to Daniel LaRusso’s old archrival. Then in 2018, Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg created a sequel show to the popular “The Karate Kid” movies called “Cobra Kai.” William Zabka reprises his role as Johnny Lawrence, now a middle-aged alcoholic, as he tries to repair his deteriorating life. He meets a teenager named Miguel Diaz, played by Xolo Maridueña, who lives in his apartment building. After watching Johnny use karate, Miguel seeks out training to defend himself from school bullies. Johnny is reunited with his former rival Daniel LaRusso once again, played by Ralph Macchio, and he is inspired to bring back the aggressive dojo from Daniel and Johnny’s teenage years—Cobra Kai. Although “Cobra Kai” brings back many fan-favorite characters, such as Johnny’s high school gang and Daniel’s mother, it mainly focuses on the younger generation. Besides Miguel, the show also follows Samantha LaRusso, Daniel’s daughter, and Robby Keene, Johnny’s delinquent son, as they train in the ways of Miyagi-Do under Daniel’s guidance.
“Cobra Kai” has become popular with both fans of “Karate Kid” and people who have never watched the movies. The show has stayed largely faithful to the original source material.
“[‘Cobra Kai’] adds so much to the questions that respond from the actual series,” said junior Tony Pluta. Fans learn about the backstory of so many popular characters from the original franchise. It has shown that a sequel show or movie series will be successful by being true to the original storyline, coming up with new challenges, capturing the essence of old beloved characters and creating new and relatable characters to continue the original story.
The success of “Cobra Kai” has set a perfect example for any sequel show to follow. However, many sequel shows, such as the newest “Star Wars’’ trilogy, have not stayed true to its original series.
“They created narratives that are almost a copycat or replica of other stories already done,” said theology teacher Mr. Brian Hansen, a lifelong fan of the “Star Wars” universe. Additionally, fans believe the new “Star Wars” sequels to have been unfaithful to returning characters. For example, during “The Last Jedi,” Luke Skywalker tries to kill Ben Solo, his best student and nephew, after receiving a premonition that he might turn to the dark side. In the previous movie, Luke refuses to even fight his father Darth Vader, the most evil person in the galaxy. The failure of the sequel trilogy is widely attributed to its lack of memorable characters, its unfaithfulness to the original characters of “Star Wars” and its lack of new ideas.
Another popular show that received a sequel series was “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” which follows a young boy named Aang who learns to use fire, air, water and earth in order to defeat the oppressive Fire Nation. “The Legend of Korra” focuses on Korra, the next Avatar, as she finds her way through a more modern world heavily styled off 1920’s America. Since “Korra” was made by the original creators of “Avatar,” it was able to bring back the essence of original beloved characters. However, some fans were disappointed with Korra’s character.
“[I dislike her lack of character development as she’s] already able to bend three elements at the age of five,” said junior Michael Strozak. Unlike Aang, Korra’s journey to use water, earth and fire was not shown on screen. Overall, however, it is a successful sequel like “Cobra Kai” because it is continuous to the original franchise, comes up with new and original challenges and brings back beloved characters for older fans.