Contrary to what head honchos in Hollywood would have you think, the Avengers are actually not the first Superhero film franchise. On the contrary—Fast and Furious made its debut in cinemas a good seven years prior, and while the film initially may not have seemed like it would blossom into the series that it is, by sheer grit, luck and an even mixture of solid moral ground and ridiculous plots, we have seen it develop into the massive franchise it is today.
What are we talking about, you ask? The Fast and Furious films aren’t about superheroes; they’re about an ethnically diverse group of misfits who drive beautiful cars! We beg to differ, and here are the top 8 reasons why:
The series is in no short supply of brilliant if not wonderfully predictable villains that the team (crew?) must contend with in order to tip the scales back to the side of good. While the protagonists themselves aren’t your cookie cutter good guys, they nevertheless work for their own brand of justice. The villains themselves are driven by the very human and relatable desire for revenge. Greed is also a very clear motivator. In true comic book fashion, all of the villains in the Fast and Furious franchise are either man men who want to watch the world burn, or are made so by traumatic events in their lives.
It’s an amazing thing to see a franchise maintain a majority of its original cast instead of casting new characters for each installment. It’s even more amazing for a franchise to consistently develop its characters with each film. We get to see the true devotion of the characters to their team, and especially towards their significant others. If we are to buy into a universe that’s filled to the brim with strong, attractive, easily attainable females at every turn, the films also confront us with the challenging concept of monogamy. Our team of protagonists stay loyal to their partners, almost to a fault. They even leave the people they move on with for the partner they started out with.
Family is the most dominant theme throughout Fast and Furious. Where the characters lack a traditional family structure, they create one in the organic friendships that have blossomed between the team members. Their desire to protect, or in some cases avenge their loved ones is the force that drives all their actions.
Akin to classic comic book mythos, the series is full of consistent, iconic objects. From details like Brian’s sneakers, to anchors like the Toretto House, the silver cross necklace, Toretto’s father’s charger (which seems to magically reproduce itself when necessary), the irony in Dom’s wrenches, traditions like saying grace over dinner, and consistent dialogues that close the films.
For films that are severely lacking in substantial plot, the Fast and Furious movies are so full of plot twists that a Spanish telenovela would be jealous. While the producers managed to maintain continuity and did their best to explain extremes like Letty coming back from the dead, the plot twists are enough to keep the films pace (and the audience’s attention and emotional investment) intact throughout.
Vin Diesel manages to pull off cheesy lines like “Ride or die,” and “I live my life a quarter mile at a time” to almost poetic, poignant success. While our protagonists are virtual fountains of flowery one-liners, it’s the villains that are fond of rambling, like Owen Shaw’s soliloquy on his code in Fast 6.
We have to hand it to the writers—it must have been difficult to create relatable, sympathetic, and intertwining backstories for each member of the team. Or they could have just read a bunch of comic books growing up.
Do we really have to explain this? These guys started off with the amazing physical capacity to hijack trucks, and somehow aged with the ability to able to survive jumping out of moving (flying!) vehicles, running from massive explosions, and landing without so much as a scratch. There was also that one time that Dwayne Johnson’s character manages to will his broken arm to heal in the span of a few seconds. Just when you think someone’s going to get incredibly hurt or die, they miraculously survive. On the other hand, just when you pray that the movie works its magic, the characters suffer a tragic loss (Han and Cara 5ever). But such is the nature of the movies—a nature not too different from the superhero stories we all grew up with.
Who’s your favorite Fast and Furious superhero? Share them with us in the comments!