The real origin of the franchise lies in a 1998 article by Kenneth Li in Vibe magazine called "Racer X," which chronicled an illegal street racing circuit in New York City. Filmmaker Rob Cohen (Dragonheart) took the script to Neal Moritz and Universal greenlit the project.
The first Fast and Furious flick starred Paul Walker (who had previously worked with director Rob Cohen on The Skulls) and Vin Diesel in what is essentially a street racing spin on Point Break, where an undercover cop named Brian O'Conner (Walker) infiltrates a gang of car thieves led by Dominic Toretto (Diesel). Legacy characters Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) and Vince (Matt Schulze) also made their first appearances. The film was a sleeper hit, grossing $207.3 million at the box office.
Before he directed the third through sixth and then later ninth installments in the Fast franchise, Justin Lin made his feature directorial debut with Better Luck Tomorrow, a film about disaffected young Asian Americans who turn to crime out of boredom. In it he cast actor Sung Kang as a character named Han, and Lin has acknowledged that when the character of Han later appeared in the Fast franchise it is in fact the same character! That makes this movie an unofficial origin story for Han.
While Vin Diesel passed on the first sequel, Paul Walker's Brian continued on as the lead, this time fleeing to Miami and forced to go undercover once again to earn his badge back. Directed by the late John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood), the sequel was critically savaged but still out-grossed its predecessor with $236.3 million. It also introduced fan fav characters Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes).
Neither Walker nor Diesel came onboard for the third film in the series, which follows a high schooler named Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) who finds himself in the middle of the highly competitive drifting community in Japan. It co-starred Sung Kang as Han, Bow Wow as Twinkie and the legendary Sonny Chiba as a Yakuza leader. Because of Han's death at the end of the film, it technically serves as a prequel to the next three films in the series. It took in $158.5 million at the box office.
Desperate to reignite a flailing franchise, Universal negotiated to bring back Vin Diesel for a short cameo at the end in exchange for the rights to the character Riddick. The cameo proved so popular with audiences that the film's writer Chris Morgan was charged with bringing both Diesel and Walker back into the fold for the next film.
Director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan returned with Walker, Diesel, Rodriguez and Brewster in tow, teasing "New Model, Original Parts." The story sees Dom and Brian teaming up to avenge the (perceived) murder of Letty and bring down a drug lord. It also served as an intro for the character Gisele Yashar, played by future Wonder Woman Gal Gadot in her debut role. The combination of the original cast reuniting and some killer action sequences revitalized the franchise to the tune of $363 million.
This film, considered by many to be the best of the series, took things in a new direction by shifting from street racing/crime to an Ocean's Eleven-style heist movie. The Rio caper involves fugitives Brian and Dom assembling their core team of Mia, Roman, Tej, Vince, Han and Gisele to pull off a daring $100 million dollar safe lift involving a LOT of vehicular mayhem.
The series saw a franchise boost in the form of Dwayne Johnson as Law Enforcement Agent Luke Hobbs, as well as Elsa Pataky as Brazilian officer Elena Neves. Johnson would become a key player as the films went on. This one broke the bank with $626.1 million, proving the sky was the limit at the box office.
This entry set out to evolve the series even further into spy/adventure territory. Agent Luke Hobbs recruits Dom and his crew to take down a skilled mercenary named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in exchange for pardons. It also saw the return of Rodriguez as an amnesiac Letty, and featured the death of Gisele and Han. It took in $788.7 million at the box office.
A mid-credits scene took things full circle as we see the specific driver who perpetrated Han's death in Tokyo Drift, Owen Shaw's brother Deckard Shaw. When audiences saw that the character was played by action titan Jason Statham they flipped out. "You don't know me. You're about to."
Horror maestro James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) stepped in to direct this installment, which finds the team going up against Deckard Shaw. This one featured the intro of Nathalie Emmanuel as hacker Ramsey and Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody. A knock-down, drag-out fight between Hobbs and Shaw is a standout sequence. The film took in an astonishing $1.5 billion!
Unfortunately, series star Paul Walker died midway through shooting in a tragic car accident. To complete the film, Wan utilized state-of-the-art CGI effects combined with double work by Walker's brothers Caleb and Cody. The characters of Brian and Mia were retired, and the film's moving coda set to Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's "See You Again" proved an emotional experience for fans.
F. Gary Gray, who previously helmed the remake of vehicular heist movie The Italian Job, directed this eighth film which sees the Mission: Impossible-style hijinks taken to the next level as Dom seemingly goes rogue after being blackmailed by a cyberterrorist named Cipher (Charlize Theron). Tego Calderón and Don Omar reprise their roles as Tego Leo and Rico Santos, while the two Shaw brothers team up with their mother played by Helen Mirren. Elsa Pataky's character dies, but not before proving Dom with a baby. The film took in $1.2 billion.
This spin-off film saw Hobbs and Shaw reunited to bring the pain to an enhanced super bad guy played by Idris Elba. John Wick's David Leitch directed the film with his specific flair for action and comedy, and it introduced Vanessa Kirby as Shaw's sister Hattie, as well as Ryan Reynolds as CIA Agent Locke. The film grossed $758 million.
This next direct sequel in the franchise, which will see release on May 22, 2020, finds Justin Lin once again in the director's chair. While little is known about the plot, filming took place in England, Edinburgh, Thailand, and Atlanta. It will see the return of Dom, Letty, Mia, Roman, Tej, Ramsey, Cipher, and Magdalene Shaw, which hopefully means experienced driver Helen Mirren will finally get behind the wheel this time. John Cena, Cardi B and Michael Rooker are the fresh faces, while Cody Walker is expected to provide double work for his late brother once again.
Executive produced by Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, and Chris Morgan, who have also produced on the feature films, this animated series for Netflix stars Dom's cousin Tony Toretto (Tyler Posey).
It revolves around Tony as he is recruited by a government agency to infiltrate an elite racing league serving as a front for a crime organization called SH1FT3R that is bent on world domination.
Tony will do all this with the help of his friends including tech genius Frostee Beonson (Luke Youngblood), artist and spy Echo (Charlet Chung) and muscle Cisco Renaldo (Jorge Diaz). The series is a production of Dreamworks Animation and Universal. It is set to premiere on Netflix December 26, 2019.