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Cobra Kai crane kicks SDCC, teases introspection in Season 3

By Trent Moore
Cobra Kai

The second season of YouTube’s original series Cobra Kai pulled no punches, pun intended, and the cast and creators of the hit series waxed their way onto the stage at San Diego Comic-Con to tease where the story is headed next.

The creative team of the Emmy-nominated Karate Kid revival series, as well as several of the key stars, participated in the Cobra Kai: Past, Present and Future panel at SDCC 2019. They took the time to look back at how the long shot pitch came together in the first place, the impact its had over the past two seasons, and what fans can expect from next year.

The panel included series creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Cast members Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso), William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence), Courtney Henggeler (Amanda LaRusso), Xolo Maridueña (Miguel Diaz), Tanner Buchanan (Robby Keene) and Martin Kove (John Kreese) were also on stage.

Looking ahead, Schlossberg said the endgame for Season 2 was mapped out from the jump, to show the consequences of what happens when these two competing forces start to affect a new generation of young fighters.

"We love the idea of this rivalry between these two guys trickles down to their students, and there had to be a cost," he said. "We knew it'd be a tough thing for the audience and the actors, but we also knew it'd end in a way fans would demand a Season 3 [laughs]. ... But I think when you watch Season 3 there'll be a reason for all of that."

Heald added a small tease for Season 3, noting the next arc will provide time for introspection between the origins of the two karate styles — a journey that will take Daniel LaRusso to Okinawa. Even with all that contemplation, though, the producers promised the show will still bring plenty of laughs. As for whether or not original Karate Kid star Elizabeth Shue (aka Ali) might make her return in Season 3, neither the stars or producers would comment. But, considering the Season 3 cliffhanger, it stands to reason the character will play some type of role.

Though he doesn't know if it'll make it much into Season 3, Macchio said he hopes next year will bring more of those "two drinks in" moments between Johnny and Daniel, referencing a scene in Season 2 where they have dinner and find some brief, uneasy common ground that could brew into a friendship. 

Macchio went on to say he believes the show resonates because it has managed to tap into a very different vibe than the original films, digging into the grey areas where there's not a very simple "good guy" or "bad guy." He also noted he's heard from fans who have rediscovered the Karate Kid films because of Cobra Kai, "backing into" the franchise from the sequel series.

"Karate Kid was very much black and white with good over evil. ... in Cobra Kai, week to week or episode to episode your allegiances can change, and all characters are flawed," he noted. "That's part of the richness of what Cobra Kai does with The Karate Kid moving forward."

Maridueña got a chance to touch on his character's cliffhanger injury at the end of Season 2, as fans were left waiting to know what happens to Miguel after he suffers a catastrophic fall that could paralyze him for life.

"Getting to read the words, it's so dramatic when you see it on paper," he said. "It was very heartbreaking to see my character fall, but filming it was a blast. Seeing the final product, it's like, man — this is sad."

Cobra Kai debuted in 2018 as a YouTube original series, quickly becoming one of the video service’s most successful original productions. The show picks up in the lives of original Karate Kid characters Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence as they continue to clash as adults, and train up a new generation of crane-kickers.

It was also revealed that Season 1 will drop to stream for free on August 29, with Season 2 episodes dropping in batches beginning September 11 on YouTube.

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.