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Since its debut, Cobra Kai has found ways to expand on the legacy of the Karate Kid franchise while staying true to what we know about the characters. The show also hasn’t shied away from asking some of the questions longtime fans have been asking. Now, there’s one major question viewers are probably wondering as they watch the show – who is the true villain: Daniel LaRusso or Johnny Lawrence? While we may never get a definitive answer, franchise stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka recently provided their thoughts on the matter.
During a special conversation from Netflix, the two Cobra Kai stars attempted to solve the mystery of who the true villain is. Both actors, who joked throughout the video, seemed to favor their respective characters. Still, both offered some pretty keen insight into Daniel and Johnny’s mindsets during some key scenes. Check out the video for yourself down below:
It’s interesting to see the unique lenses through which Ralph Macchio and William Zabka view their characters. When The Karate Kid first released back in 1984, many were more than likely quick to call out Johnny as the villain, given his bullying of Daniel. For instance, as Macchio points out, Johnny could have been a bit more “chivalrous” when confronting Daniel and Ali Mills.
On the other hand, William Zabka makes fair points about Daniel’s behavior. Zabka points out that Daniel was a bit “prickly” when the two reunited at the LaRusso Auto dealership. Daniel was mostly courteous, but he also had no problem with doing a little light bragging to his colleagues about beating Johnny in the tournament all those years ago. Zabka also attributed Johnny’s violent tendencies to his teachings from sensei John Kreese, calling him the true villain. Both he and Macchio would eventually agree on that point based on one of Mr. Miyagi’s old sayings, “No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher.”
In the end, William Zabka admitted that he couldn’t actually decide on who the real villain is between Daniel and Johnny. He leaves that up to the viewers to decide:
As far as the ultimate “who’s the bad, who’s the good guy,” I’m way too close to it to make that decision. So that really is up to the fans and the viewers and it’s individual to look at it.
Ralph Macchio agreed, saying that both can fall on both ends of the spectrum at times:
They both are, at times, the bad, and they’re both, at times, the guy you’re rooting for. And that’s why it’s awesome.
The debate over Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence’s moral fibers will likely continue for a while, as Cobra Kai continues to show different sides of the characters. We’ll see how the two continue to develop as the series prepares to enter its third season.