Cobra Kai breakout to become a bonafide hit for YouTube's original programming initiative, and The Karate Kid spinoff is looking even better in season 2! Collider's Perri Nemiroff hosted the show's San Diego Comic-Con 2019 panel, and she quite the lineup of cast members with her.
Original Karate Kid star Ralph Macchio got a lot of love crowd - but Cobra Kai's breakout, William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, brought down the house. Along for the ride were Karate Kid's Martin Kove (Kreese), Mary Mouser, Zolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, as well as showrunners Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald.
Ralph described how Cobra Kai has re-opened the door on the Karate Kid universe, with fans now revisiting the classic film, based on their love of the show. Personally, he enjoys how this new installment now let's the characters from the original film develop into more than good / evil caricatures, with more complex development.
Zabka talked about the big reunion with the original Cobra Kai gang from the movie, which was a highlight of season 2. He said it was like putting on an old glove, and he loved it. Another season 2 standout was a grudge match between Daniel and Johnny in an apartment; Macchio joked that when rehearsing the fight, Zabka proved to be "pound-for-pound the clear tougher fighter. He had to remind his co-star that the fight was still pretend when the cameras rolled.
Mary Mouser described the growth between her season 2 mall fight and the big fight at the school in season 2 episode 10, describing how crazy it was to shoot over two days. The showrunners echoed that the shoot for that episode was grueling and a logistical challenge (getting events that lead to and follow the fights). Mouser added that the shot of the entire cast battling at once was the especially grueling challenge of that shoot.
Maridueña talks about Miguel's horrible injury and coma, and having to process how sad that turn was for his character. Buchanan seemed to be even more perturbed as the one that caused Miguel's injury, as it messed with his mind to think that Robby is actually that vicious. Schlossberg added that they needed such a "tough moment" to really set the stage for season 3. As Hurwitz added, seeing how the students, Danny and Johnny all respond to this moment will define season 3 in a lot of ways.
On the subject of season 3, the showrunners echoed the theme of how to move forward, and how Cobra Kai and Miyagi Dojo evolve. The big takeaway from that tease was Heald's statement that Danny will revisit Okinawa, Japan, the setting of The Karate Kid Part II!
The cast recounted moments in season 2 that challenged their training. Mouser had to do a sequence crossing a beam that got painful, while Maridueña recounted the Coyote Creek sequence as being a "different beast." He also loved the fight with Hawk, as he and Hawk actor Jacob Bertrand really wanted that one.
As for the future, Macchio wants to have sequence where Danny and Johnny bond while putting down a few drinks (he said "two drinks," Zabka joked that Macchio is a three-drink guy).
Paul Walter Hauser's Raymond gets singled out as an "unsung hero" of season 2, as does the set designer who put meticulous detail in recreating Mr. Miyagi's house, among other sets. The whole crew gets a big shout out for their work. Macchio takes a moment to single out the young cast members for the way they are picking up the baton and running with it, and their respect for the material that came before them. The stunt crews and camera operators also got hilighted - particularly for their work in the full on fight at the school.
Kove thanks the audience for demanding an era of entertainment where characters are more complex and gray than the characters they played in the original Karate Kid. He loves entertainment getting more "human" with its characterizations.
The cast was asked which other characters from the show they'd love to play. Ralph was political, naming many of his castmates as wonderful; Kove joked that now faced with the challenge of playing a human character, he would play Johnny, because Johnny is not human. Maridueña wanted to play Hawk, Mouser wanted to play Danny, and Buchanan wanted to play Mr. Miyagi, due to his wise views on life. Heald wants to play Bret Ernst's Louie LaRusso Jr., for the numbskull fun and simplicity of it; Schlossberg wanted to play Dutch.
Q&A started with Maridueña being asked whether or not Miguel would leave Cobra Kai after what happened with Robby. Surprisingly, Xolo said Miguel's allegiance to Johnny wouldn't be shaken by what Robby did. A question about Ali Mills' possible return wasn't answered by the showrunners. A second fan pressed whether or not the cast had met with Ali Mills actress Elisabeth Shue at Comic-Con. They have not. Ralph Macchio's favorite Kung Fu movie is Kung Fu Hustle.
Zabka gets a "is blood thicker than water" question about how Johnny's relationship with Miguel and Robby will develop after season 2. Though stating that Johnny loves both boys, Zabka hints that his relationship with his estranged son could become more prominent.
Prompted by a question, the showrunners hint that Cobra Kai could be getting a home video release, but there are no solid plan yet. They also confirmed (again) that Hilary Swank's Julie Pierce from The Next Karate Kid is also part of Cobra Kai's world.
Buchanan and Mouser joke that the stretching regiment the actors go through is the most painful part of the training. Mouser added that Sam's fight with Robby didn't get a lot of prep time, so they took some big lumps while trying to perfect the sequence. Maridueña said that he got bad "stage fright" doing push-ups on camera.
The final question was how to properly pronounce Xolo Maridueña's name. He says it's pronounced "Sholo".0comments
The most hilarious part of the whole panel though: Ralph Macchio repeatedly talking about his character as "Ralph" instead of Danny. That's real commitment to a roll, folks!
Cobra Kai streams on YouTube. Season 1 will be offered for free binge watching starting August 28th; Season 2 episodes will drop weekly starting September 13th.