With millions of fans worldwide, it may seem like the popular Netflix series Cobra Kai (now on Season 4) does not have to rely on looking back at the previous Karate Kid films, but the show’s creators, and star Ralph Macchio, reveal why we’ll still see flashbacks to Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi as the show continues.
“The Karate Kid was Miyagi. I mean, yes, it was the teen underdog, adolescent, overcoming obstacles, but Miyagi was that special human Yoda character that we all wish we had as we navigated our childhood,” Macchio, who plays Daniel LaRusso, explained to Yahoo Canada.
“So having that in the story, it ties into the source material, it never lets go of The Karate Kid universe, or the Miyagi-verse as we call it.”
Macchio added that no matter how big, action-focused and maybe more “violent” or “rough around the edges” as Cobra Kai gets, in comparison to The Karate Kid, keeping those references and flashbacks to Mr. Miyagi keeps the series “grounded.”
“It's always a place to add wisdom, inform all characters, not only [Daniel LaRusso],” he said. “Certainly the void in LaRusso’s life is fulfilled by Miyagi moments and memories, but...there are ways and tools that are used by the writing staff to keep that alive and inform going forward, with all characters."
"I think that's special and unique,...and I love that part of the show.”
'Those lessons, you're going to remember way after that person dies'
Cobra Kai co-creator Hayden Schlossberg stressed that he, along with Josh Heald and Jon Hurwitz, never “force” a flashback in the series. He said it starts with what the characters are going through in the present day and utilizing footage from the past to amplify those experiences, and sometimes just using the Karate Kid footage to remind the audience of tensions between two characters.
“Especially with Daniel LaRusso's character, Mr. Miyagi is so important to him," Hurwitz explained. "When you have that parent figure, that father figure that taught you so many things, those lessons, you're going to remember way after that person dies."
“For [Daniel LaRusso's] journey on the show, he's constantly confronted with challenges and obstacles, and it just so happens that we have footage of Mr. Miyagi talking about how to overcome those challenges.”
Any Karate Kid character can come back 'at any time'
The fourth season of the series also marks the return of psychopathic antagonist from The Karate Kid Part III, Terry Silver, played by Thomas Ian Griffith. Cobra Kai co-creator Josh Heald stated that from the outset of the show, the creators have known that “any legacy character from the original franchise could continue into this universe at any time.”
"From the beginning, originating Cobra Kai, we knew that Terry Silver would come and it would be a moment, he carries with him a lot of energy, a lot of baggage from the Karate Kid III storyline," Heald said. "You saw us start to lay in the Terry Silver character and in the flashback episodes where we get into his and [Martin Kreese's] relationship in Vietnam."
Thomas Ian Griffith thought Cobra Kai was going to be a 'disaster'
For Griffith, he admitted to Yahoo Canada that when he first heard that the Cobra Kai series was being created, based on the movies, he thought it was going to be a “disaster,” but that changed after he watched the first season.
“I tuned in, after I watched the pilot I ended up binging the entire first season, and loved it,” Griffith said. “It was nostalgic, but it was also irreverent and it was funny, and it was smart, and I thought they hit it out of the park.”
Griffith added that it was really the journey that Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg created that made the actor want to reprise the role of Terry Silver and be a part of the series.
“They created a world that I go, ‘wow,’ I just want to be a part of,” he said.
"The first time I walked on set and saw Ralph, we hadn't seen each other in 30 years, and it was just surreal, just standing there and just looking at each other. We never could have possibly imagined we'd be doing this again."