How ‘The Fast and the Furious’ Franchise Turned the Streets Into a Universe

The Fast & the Furious franchise is my favorite movie franchise of all-time. I love everything about it. The over-the-top action. The adding of stars to every movie. The corny one-liners. The way people hate those of us who love it.

The producers and writers of the original The Fast and the Furious had a vision. It was to remake Point Break, one of the most underrated films of all-time. If you’ve seen both films, you’ll notice all of the similarities. Small scale heists by thrill-seeking junkies, undercover FBI agent who falls in love with someone associated with the leader, ending escape. This doesn’t take away from the first film, but it also didn’t have you believing that it would turn into something larger.

It turns out they had something larger in mind. They decided to create a universe not unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars Universe or any other major franchise universe.

The Fast & the Furious franchise doesn’t get enough credit for the universe they’ve created. They built an entire world around an illegal street racer who just wanted to steal electronics. Vin Diesel’s absence from the second and third movie helped further the plot and characters for later movies. They’re already talking about making spin-offs for The Rock and Jason Statham.

Some believe it’s similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Diesel would be Iron Man, Paul Walker as Captain America, and Sung Kang as Thor. Diesel is the guy who got the ball rolling. The other two had their standalone films. Then, they finally came together. This almost ignores the fact that The Fast & the Furious came out years before Iron Man and that the franchise was three films deep before Iron Man hit theaters in 2008. If anything, Marvel copied Fast & Furious. Just think about that for a second.

Here’s how The Fast & the Furious films evolved.

The Fast and the Furious

In The Fast and the Furious, Vin Diesel and his group of friends were street racers in Los Angeles who stole electronics from truckers. Paul Walker, an FBI agent, was tasked with going undercover in order to take them down. The movie was essentially a Point Break remake except about cars instead of surfing and skydiving.

2 Fast 2 Furious

2 Fast 2 Furious is similar. Walker is no longer an FBI agent, but cuts a deal with the FBI in Miami to go undercover to stop a drug lord. Diesel and his movie family have nothing to do with this movie. While disappointing at first, it does allow for Tyrese and Ludacris to develop and take on roles later in the franchise.

Two movies in and the franchise is still small scale. The stories are reduced to one area and things haven’t gotten too crazy. Ok, maybe jumping a car onto a boat is a little crazy, but it’s nothing compared to what is to come.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift has almost nothing to do with Walker or Diesel. Vin shows up at the very end, setting the stage for later movies, but it’s an out of place movie that fits between the sixth and seventh film despite being released third. The only thing that matters in this film is the death of Kang. Once again, since the movie has nothing to do with Diesel and his family, the producers are able to develop Kang’s character and then tell a larger story.

Fast & Furious

Fast & Furious is where s**t starts to get real. Walker and Diesel reunite, we start off in the Dominican Republic, go briefly to Panama City, head back to Los Angeles, and end up in Mexico. This is the first movie that truly goes outside of one city and has a larger scope. Michelle Rodriguez is dead, Diesel is looking for revenge, Walker is trying to help people he bonded with in the first film, and so much more. This is the movie that set the stage for what is to come.

Fast Five

Fast Five is where s**t got really really real and the whole universe starts to come together. While the first four movies were all centered around street racing in some form, Fast Five abandoned that in order to go full Michael Bay. They added The Rock, had two different major stories going on (Diesel’s gang being on the run from the cops and Diesel’s gang fighting with a crime lord), traveled across the world, and added trains. This is the first film where everyone from the first four movies come together. Fast & Furious plays more like a sequel to the first film than a sequel to the second. Fast Five begins to tie all four of the previous films together.

Fast 6

In Fast 6, Michelle Rodriguez is alive again, we have the longest runway in movie history, and The Rock needs the help of Diesel and Walker in order to take down a special ops soldier. Now we’re really starting to see things take shape. The end of credits scene has Jason Statham’s character being revealed as the man who killed Kang’s character in the third film. This not only ties up the major plot in the third film, it sets up the seventh film.

Furious 7

Furious 7 adds Jason Statham to the mix, more explosions, helicopters, drones, and a bunch of other crazy things. Diesel, Walker, and The Rock are now on the same team, they continue to cause billions of dollars in damages, and it’s the last film to feature Paul Walker.

I won’t spoil anything about The Fate of the Furious. But Charlize Theron is now part of the cast and they’ve now taken to the ice.

The switch to over-the-top action angered some people, but there’s no doubt that it worked. Furious 7 cracked one billion dollars worldwide. The Fate of the Furious is well on its way to Furious 7. Since Fast Five, when they changed directions away from street racing, the films have always done at least $500 million worldwide.

In eight films, Vin Diesel and his crew went from Los Angeles street racers jacking trucks in the middle of the night to working with the Defense Security Service (DSS) and traveling all over the world in order to combat the world’s most notorious criminals.

When they had trouble dealing with a trucker armed with a gun in the first film, there’s no way I would have imagined that they’d be fighting Jason Statham and The Rock, always the baddest men in any film, by the seventh film. AND THEY ADDED CHARLIZE THERON!

Maybe this was their vision from the start. Maybe they lucked into the whole thing. All I know is that we should all aspire to be as great as everyone and everything associated with The Fast & the Furious franchise.

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