How The Fate of the Furious Retcons the Previous Movies

Warning: SPOILERS for The Fate of the Furious ahead


Fate of the Furious is the eighth installment in the Fast franchise, which started life in 2001 with the release of The Fast and the Furious. For newcomers to the bold and bombastic action series, the Fast timeline can be a little confusing; the first movie released is the first installment, but things get a little more complex from there on in, and The Fate of the Furious alters the Fast timeline still further.

Following on from The Fast and the Furious is 2 Fast, 2 Furious, the second movie. So far, so good, but then, film number four, Fast & Furious, comes third in the timeline, followed by Fast 5, and then by Fast & Furious 6. Then the timeline jumps back to the third Fast movie: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. After that, there’s Furious 7, and finally, Fate of the Furious.

Tokyo Drift takes place in the same time frame as a large part of Furious 7 - at least up until the point that Han dies, which just makes it even more confusing for anyone except the most dedicated of viewers. Hold onto your hats, though, because The Fate of the Furious is about to shake things up again.

If you thought this eighth installment would be just a straightforward continuation of the franchise, think again. The Fate of the Furious now refocuses several of the characters we’ve come to know in Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7, which in turn makes viewers reconsider those character’s intentions throughout the previous movies.

The arrival of Cipher, played by Charlize Theron, causes Dom to go rogue and start carrying out her bidding without explanation to his family or friends. Screenwriter Chris Morgan is saddled with the unenviable job of both trying to weave threads of stories from past installments into the plot of this eighth film, while also setting up The Fate of the Furious as the first movie in a new trilogy. To do this, he uses Theron’s character as the link.

Billed as a “high-tech terrorist,” Cipher wants Dom to steal a dangerous device for her, but it also emerges that she was behind Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou)’s actions in Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7, respectively. The tech items both characters stole were at her request, which retrospectively casts their behavior in a new light.

There are several repercussions to this revelation. In Furious 7, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) swore vengeance on Dom and co. for injuring his brother, Owen, in Fast & Furious 6. Meanwhile, Ramsey joins the team because of Jakande's involvement. Now, given what we know about Owen and Jakande’s involvement with Cipher, it seems as though the previous 2 Fast installments have been retconned just to make Cipher into the big villain of this new trilogy.

Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto and Charlize Theron as Cipher in The Fate of the Furious Fast 8

For Dom, who has always placed his family first, the idea of going rogue and working for a villain is something that can’t come easy to him - something that is clearly evident in the confusion his family have over his actions. Eventually, however, the reason for Dom’s betrayal becomes clear. It turns out that he has a young son, that he knew nothing of, by Elena. When Elena realized how happy Dom was with Letty, she decided to raise the baby by herself, thereby making herself a target for Cipher’s evil intentions. She kidnaps Elena and the child, and uses their plight to make Dom do her bidding.

So far, so understandable, but it’s perhaps a bit far-fetched to think Dom would just abandon Letty to save a kid he’s never met, even if it is his own son. Going forward into the rest of this trilogy, it raises questions over how Cipher will operate, what will motivate her (revenge, most likely), and also how Dom will rectify these two halves of his life.

Another point to consider is whether there could be more twists hidden that we don’t know about, that could alter the Fast franchise canon still further. This is a multi-billion-dollar franchise, with at least two more movies to come, not including potential spin-offs or shorts. While it’s understandable that they need to switch things up to keep viewers interested, at the same time it runs the risk of getting too implausible and confusing.

Next: Why Dominic Toretto is Evil in The Fate of the Furious

Key Release Dates
  • The Fate of the Furious (2017) release date: Apr 14, 2017
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