Back when Samuel L. Jackson first took up the mantle of Shaft in director John Singleton’s 2000 reboot, John Shaft II’s relationship with Richard Roundtree’s John Shaft was that of a nephew and an uncle. It may not have been what folks were expecting back then, as typically two generations of character would be assumed to follow a straight line of parent and child, but it’s what worked back in the days of that first reboot.
Now however, that relationship is about to assume the more traditional path, as director Tim Story’s Shaft reboot has retconned John and John II to be father and son. An interesting choice to make 19 years later, granted, but when CinemaBlend was on hand for a set visit early last year, the question was put into the room asking why that decision was made at this point in time.
The answer we got, courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson himself, was the following:
That choice is because they want three generations, in terms of grandfather, father, and son. And it’s not unusual, strangely enough, in black families for somebody to think their ‘uncle’ was their uncle.
With no further films existing between Shaft 2000 and Shaft 2019, there should thankfully be no issues involving continuity in the extended run of the franchise. That having been said, it’s a pretty interesting decision to make the previous two generations of John Shaft father and son. But looking at the story for Shaft on the whole, it makes total sense.
John Shaft II is trying to protect his son JJ (played by Jessie T. Usher), as well as teach him the ropes of the family’s private investigator game. After 25 years of being separated from his son and Maya, the woman who raised JJ and still holds a special place in John II’s heart (played by Regina Hall), he’s getting reacquainted with the family.
Bringing John Shaft I into the mix, and as John II’s father, only makes sense when you look at Shaft as an action comedy that literally brings the family together. During the set visit we took part in early last year, we saw a sizzle reel of footage that showed us bits and pieces of the film that gave us a taste of the tone the film was aiming for. The decision to bring in three generations of Shaft men is one that totally works, as the comic energy shown in both that reel, and the trailer for Shaft, confirms this team-up is a wise one.
Should Shaft’s latest reboot happen to do well enough, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if this family matter sparked another entry into this already legendary canon. In which case, it’ll be interesting to see if any other family members in the Shaft family tree find their way into this ever-growing picture.