6:00am PT by Josh Spiegel
'Fast 9': Where the Franchise Must Go After 'Fate of the Furious'
[Warning: This story contains spoilers for The Fate of the Furious.]
One of the great joys of the Fast and the Furious franchise has been watching the filmmakers top themselves in each entry with car-driven action. The Fate of the Furious goes as far as having the good guys take on a Russian submarine so they can stop World War III.
With two more films already announced, the question now can only be: What on Earth will Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and the rest of the cast do in the ninth film?
Now that you’ve seen The Fate of the Furious, you know a couple of big new developments: First, Dominic Toretto is a father, from his now-ill-fated relationship with DSS agent Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky). Second, and perhaps more importantly: Charlize Theron’s nefarious hacker Cipher avoided capture or death at the end of the eighth film. It’s hard to imagine Theron not returning in a future entry to cause some kind of trouble for Dom and his family.
The easy joke is to say, “Well, now they have to go to outer space.” Even series screenwriter Chris Morgan acknowledged the suggestion, replying that if he “had something so good,” he’d consider sending Dom and friends to the stars. He hinted at an unexpected crossover there, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, with the Riddick series, but here’s another idea. For the ninth film, have Dom, Luke Hobbs, Letty, and the others go to space in an Armageddon-style situation.
Imagine it: Cipher has holed up somewhere secret and broken into the mainframe of various nations’ and corporations’ satellites. Unless she gets as much power and money as she desires, she’ll make the world go dark. Maybe, even worse, she could figure out a way to draw debris floating in space towards Earth, utilizing the satellites as a series of magnets. (The Neil DeGrasse Tysons of the world would quibble with the hard science of this storyline.)
Only Dom and his family have fought Cipher and survived to tell the tale, so who better to stop an asteroid, or a series of asteroids, from decimating the planet? Here, the motivating factor to stop Cipher wouldn’t need any further explanation; in Fate, it’s established that Dom is only working for Cipher to ensure the safety of his infant son, but if the entire world is at stake, that should be good enough for our heroes. And since Cipher spent most of Fate in a plane, it only makes sense she'll be in some sort of space station in Fast 9.
Of course, should the filmmakers and cast pursue this line of thinking, it leads to another inevitable question: What do you possibly do for Fast and Furious X? (You have to assume they’ll start employing Roman numerals in the titles soon.) Where could Dom and the family go after space? The best answer may be to expand the genre the Fast and the Furious series occupies. What was once a car-driven take on Point Break morphed into heist movies by the time of 2009’s Fast and Furious, and has since morphed into a James Bond-esque franchise. Taking the family into space pushes them into science-fiction, but in bringing them back to Earth, Universal Pictures could push them into another genre: action-horror.
Later this summer, the studio is going to begin building out its monster-movie universe with a reboot of The Mummy, in which Tom Cruise will not only tangle with an Egyptian mummy but Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) himself. The intent is clear: Universal wants to turn characters like Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, the Mummy and the Wolfman into the equivalent of the Marvel or DC cinematic universes. Should that experiment be successful, why not go a step further, and crossover with the Fast and the Furious franchise?
Of course this idea is ridiculous: Squaring off with criminal masterminds is one thing, but doing so with the Wolfman and the Mummy is entirely different. But even in the eight Fast and the Furious films, the action is rarely less than insane, not to mention the operatic twists and turns of the character dynamics. These people have gone from rogue drivers stealing electronics to government agents working to stop a nuclear war. In 2001, when Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were racing each other so the former could evade arrest from the LAPD, facing off against Universal’s monsters would have seemed insane. In 2017, it’s a lot closer to reality. (The series’ longtime producer, Neal H. Moritz, also produces the 21 Jump Street films, which at one time was going to crossover with Men in Black. Anything can happen.)
Think of it: This could sate Diesel’s clear desire to indulge in genre fare like The Chronicles of Riddick and Guardians of the Galaxy. Plus, it would be a hoot to see Dom and Luke and Letty battle the Wolfman. The logistics of how it all goes down might seem shaky, but a world where a hacker can take control of cars, missiles and submarines could easily be a world where monsters lurk beneath the surface.
The challenge is set for F&F writer Chris Morgan, the rest of the crew and castmembers like Diesel. Topping the action in The Fate of the Furious will be difficult, and bringing the characters into a shared universe the right way would be even more challenging, as Dominic Toretto and his family must be more than pawns in a larger realm. It won’t be easy, but these movies thrive on the impossible. Truly thinking outside the box is the only way to top what’s come before.