[Note: This article contains spoilers for Fast X.]
When anthropologists of the future attempt to understand the increasingly mutated masculinity of the 2010s and 2020s, few film franchises will be as invaluable to their efforts as the Fast And Furious movies. Not for the content of the films themselves, mind you, which don’t do much more than assert that a real man will do whatever he can to protect his family from [note to self: look up whatever the MacGuffin was in the last one of these damn things—was it an EMP? There must have been an EMP at some point.]
No, the real academic meat in this big, beefy stew comes from the films’ behind-the-scenes drama, which exploded into public view fully seven years back with the infamous CandyAssGate, i.e., that time Dwayne Johnson called Vin Diesel a “candy ass” on social media. After a lot of back-and-forths, and a truly impressive number of passive-aggressive uses of the word “brother” between the two men, Johnson basically bailed on the franchise. He took his character Hobbs into a reasonably successful spin-off in 2019, and then vanished from the Fast universe altogether. (After not filming scenes with Diesel for 2017's The Fate Of The Furious, he missed Fast 9 altogether, and appears only in an after-credits scene in Fast X.)
Now, THR reports that Luke Hobbs is back, baby—but in a way that will ensure that he and Diesel won’t have to see each other, and thus engage in yet another big, bald dick-measuring contest, ever again. Johnson is reportedly set to star in another, now-Shaw-less spin-off Fast film, which will serve as a “bridging chapter” in the epic saga betwixt Fast X and the eventual Fast 11. Other Fast cast members will also appear in the movie, although we’d be shocked if Dom Toretto ever stopped by—although Diesel, who publicly asked Johnson back to the franchise for Fast X, will serve on the film as a producer, alongside Johnson.
Johnson’s return to the franchise comes after a run of films that took some serious swings at the supposedly impenetrable assumption that The Rock is an automatic box office star. Hobbs And Shaw, at $760 million, remains the highest performer of his entire career, while more recent fare like Black Adam have suggested a certain, let’s say, overconfidence in his own box office clout. There’s an implication that, for all his bravado, Johnson and the Fast movies might actually need each other—at least enough for Johnson to declare that he and Diesel have “put the past behind them,” albeit in a way that ensures they don’t ever have to, y’know, act together ever again.