Why Cobra Kai Season 6 needs Next Karate Kid star Hilary Swank

Pat Morita and Hilary Swank in the Next Karate Kid.Columbia Pictures

Cobra Kai returns later this year, and this is why The Next Karate Kid star Hilary Swank needs to make an appearance in the sixth and final season.

Cobra Kai is a belated Karate Kid spinoff that’s become one of the most popular shows on Netflix. First debuting on YouTube in 2019, the show moved to the streaming service in 2021, and its popularity has grown ever since.

The story continues the rivalry of karate kid Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), and his enemy Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). Along the way familiar faces from the first three movies have popped up, including Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), John Kreese (Martin Kove), Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto), Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan), and Jessica Andrews (Robin Lively).

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All those characters had a connection to Daniel and Johnny in the trilogy. But for the Cobra Kai story to come full circle, the show needs to connect with the fourth film in the series.

What is The Next Karate Kid?

The Karate Kid franchise kicked off with the acclaimed and hugely popular first film in 1984, which was followed by the decent if slightly less successful sequel in 1986.

That trilogy concluded with 1989’s Part III, a dreadful film that killed the franchise stone-dead. For five years that is.

The story was then rebooted in 1994 via The Next Karate Kid, which relocated series mainstay Mr. Miyagi to a new location, and gave him a new student to teach…

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Who does Hilary Swank play in The Next Karate Kid?

Hilary Swank plays that new student in the shape of Julie Pierce. Following the death of her parents, Julie lives with her grandmother in Boston, which is where she meets Mr. Miyagi after a ceremony for war veterans.

Grandma then does a house swap with Miyagi, meaning he’s soon living in Boston with Julie. And it quickly becomes clear that she’s filled with rage, because of her loss, and because of the bullying Julie receives at school.

So in classic Karate Kid fashion, Miyagi teachers her that anger won’t bring her parents back. He then trains her to fight (and somewhat randomly how to dance), the film climaxing with a brawl by the docks where Julie defeats her tormentor.

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How could Julie Pierce feature in Cobra Kai?

Mr. Miyagi unites all the Karate Kid movies, but he’s the only connective tissue between Daniel, Johnny, and Julie, meaning as far as we know, those characters have never met. So there’s no history to be explored there (unless you think like Ralph Macchio thinks – see below).

But even though actor Pat Morita died in 2005 – meaning Mr. Miyagi doesn’t appear in Cobra Kai – his presence is felt throughout the series. Through his philosophy and homespun wisdom, as well as through the love and affection everyone still has for him.

So Season 6 needs a full-on celebration of his life, a little like the ceremony at the start of The Next Karate Kid. All the people Miyagi has touched with his teachings could meet and share stories of the great man. While the event could also bring Julie into the Cobra Kai fold, to join Daniel and Johnny for their last hurrah.

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Hilary Swank and Ralph Macchio weigh in on Cobra Kai

While appearing on Live With Kelly and Ryan (as reported by People), Swank said: “A lot of people ask if I’m going to be on it, it’s like, the No. 1 question I get.”

Then when asked about reprising her role in Cobra Kai, Hilary Swank responded: “No one’s called me… but it’s so funny, isn’t it, that’s the one thing I get asked the most and no one’s called me?”

In response to those quotes, Ralph Macchio told CinemaBlend: “I know, I read that! I think, listen, most of this rests on [showrunners] Jon (Hurwitz), Josh (Heald), and Hayden (Schlossberg) who create the show, and the writing staff. And we’re always very collaborative and we always talk through things. They are great listeners and that’s why, like I said, they care, and I care. So, I think that’s why everything’s working. I think there’s certainly room in the Miyagiverse.”

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Macchio even speculated that the characters might have met, stating: “You would imagine that Julie Pierce and Daniel LaRusso knew each other even though we don’t have those scenes and I’m not a part of that specific film.

“These guys just amaze me all the time with what they’re able to create, and the fact that they just don’t create it for fan service. They really create stories that work and enhance characters. And then the fact that it’s fan service as well is why I think it’s working on all cylinders. So, there’s my long answer to the short question that I really don’t know, but I expect if there’s an opportunity it will be taken up on.”

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Cobra Kai concludes sometime this year, while you can read everything we know about that sixth and final season here.