Cobra Kai lastly makes “Daniel is the actual tyrant” karate child concept official Canon
The karate kid, Released in 1984, was a coming-of-age film with a fairly straightforward plot that gained cult status due to its heartwarming story and sincere performances. To put it simply, the film’s focus is on a teenager, Daniel LaRusso, and his teacher, Mr. Miyagi, teaching him martial arts so he can defend himself and withstand his thugs. But that simple story sparked a massive debate that still split fans of the film years after the film was released, and now the recently released Season 3 of Netflix’s Cobra Kai has officially rekindled the argument.
[The following article contains major spoiler from Cobra Kai Season 3. Please proceed only if you’ve watched it or are already thinking “Ah! I know what this article is about.”]
The premiere of the third season of Cobra Kai, “Aftermath,” begins where the second season ended. Everyone is still feeling the aftermath of the brutal “karate uprising” in West Valley High, which left Miguel in a coma and on life support. Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai, whose rivalry caused the chaos, must face the consequences. While Johnny is drunk, beaten up, and arrested, Daniel and Amanda attend an urgent PTA meeting after Sam was suspended for two weeks.
To quench the growing turmoil, the school decides to ban the practice of martial arts entirely. Daniel gets up to shout that “Karate Footloose” He talked about his time at school when he was “bullied” and how “karate saved me” just so someone in the crowd could shout something. The Karate Kid fans have been debating (read: argue) for decades.
“Bulls ***! I heard you are the real tyrant!”
For those who started their journey of getting to know Daniel and Johnny with Cobra Kai, it may just be a throwaway line, but it is, in fact, a recall to the widespread debate that it wasn’t Johnny who was the bad guy – the one Real tyrant was indeed Daniel. The debate took off in 2015 when a Youtuber, J. Matthew Turner, posted a viral video postulating how Johnny was the unfortunate victim targeted by the movie’s real villain, i.e. Daniel.
For the uninitiated, The Karate Kid begins with Ralph Macchios Daniel moving to Los Angeles with his mother. He soon meets and falls in love with high school cheerleader Ally Mills (Elizabeth Shue), which draws the wrath of her arrogant and jealous ex-boyfriend Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and his loyal gang of bullies. After being badly beaten by the group, Daniel learns karate from the local artisan Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and participates in the All Valley Karate championship on condition that Johnny and his friends stop harassing him, if he wins. Despite the repeated dishonest attempts by Sensei Kreese to defeat him, Daniel reaches the final round in which he defeats Johnny using the famous Crane Technique.
While the film simply paints its characters in shades of gray, with some more prone to their villainous ability, it’s clear that the protagonist of the story is Daniel and Johnny plays the role of the antagonist. But the video mentioned above, like many other die-hard The Karate Kid fans, points to this “Daniel is the real tyrant” who was “a violent sociopath who chooses any fight” and “moves to a California town and starts torturing a local boy and friends”. The theory goes on to claim that the tragic character in the story is actually Johnny, who was a “reluctant” and “flawed” hero.
The theory goes on to claim that it was Daniel’s fault for getting the heavy blows when he bumped his head where he shouldn’t have, and by beating him up, Johnny was simply trying to “contain Daniel’s anger”. So Mr. Miyagi was the “demon wizard” and “kid beater” who helped Daniel win the “corrupted blood trophy” at the tournament.
For years, many have put forward points both for and against the theory, discussing how Johnny was a bully who kept targeting Daniel despite trying to avoid the fighting or how Daniel intentionally wreaked havoc on his archenemy. While neither warring factions of fans have reached a stalemate, one side can now find solace in the fact that the “Daniel was the real tyrant” theory is now officially canon in the Karate Kid universe. The full YouTube video with the theory can be found here.
Topics: Cobra Kai, Karate Kid