Cobra Kai's Hawk: Is This Kid A Bad Guy Or Just Misunderstood?

Hawk Cobra Kai Netflix

Cobra Kai has given new life to The Karate Kid franchise, its characters, and introduced some new folks for fans to get invested in. Young characters like Miguel, Samantha, and Robby have become the new teens living their lives and learning karate, and it's all changed them in various ways.

Some transformations have been more drastic than others, especially in the case of Eli Moskowitz or "Hawk." In the course of two seasons, he's shifted from quiet side character to one of the show's biggest villains. Is Hawk really a bad guy though, or just misunderstood? Let's dive into his development throughout the series, and see if we can't figure out his direction heading into Season 3.

Hawk And Demetri Cobra Kai Netflix

What Hawk Was Like Before Cobra Kai

Eli Moskowitz was Miguel's friend and the stereotypical wallflower kid in high school. He was soft-spoken, and absolutely the last person you'd expect to stick up for you in a fight. Even so, he'd probably be there afterward to help you lick your wounds, and maybe watch some geeky show with you later that night to help brighten your mood.

Overall, Eli gave off the vibes of a nice guy. That said, it was really hard to get a read on him because he hardly talked. That was thanks in large part to his low self-esteem, which was preyed on quite a bit by classmates in the early episodes. Eli looked like he was just trying to get through high school alive, and not really liking the whole experience of being a part of it.

Hawk, Johnny, and Miguel Cobra Kai Netflix

How Hawk Changed After Cobra Kai

Eli really came into his own joining Cobra Kai, and Johnny Lawrence's teachings gave him the confidence he needed to change himself completely. He got the nickname "Hawk" from Johnny, gained a lot more confidence, got a tattoo and a girlfriend. He essentially became a completely different character, which may be why Cobra Kai gave the character a larger role in Season 2.

Well, that and because Hawk took on the Cobra Kai motto like a mantra, and became a real hellion in the process. The once quiet kid was serving up cheap shots in karate tournaments, and even beating up his former friends all in the name of what he believed Cobra Kai should be. By the end of Season 2, he was a full-blown douchebag and fully committed to carrying on the Cobra Kai name without his original sensei Johnny Lawrence.

Hawk and Miguel Cobra Kai Netflix

The Good Things Hawk Has Done

Hawk had his friends' backs, for better or worse, and I think he did want what was best for Miguel and Demetri. He was loyal to both of them for a time, and there was a point where I'd think he would have done anything for them if they asked. Hawk was a good friend, even in some of his darker moments in Season 2, and he should get points for that.

To build on that, I would continue to say that Hawk would generally ride or die for anyone that is in Cobra Kai. Provided they are willing to put in the work, he'll vouch for them and continue that loyalty through thick and thin. Beyond that, I would generally say that he seemed like a solid person with decent morals overall prior to all the Cobra Kai business, but that's mainly speculation based on what little we hear and see about him from that era. Perhaps Hawk has always been a malicious person at his core, though that isn't apparent from the stuff we've seen when he was merely known as Eli.

Hawk and Robby Cobra Kai Netflix

The Bad Things Hawk Has Done

In fairness, we've seen a lot of Hawk compared to Eli Moskowitz, but even then the stuff Hawk has done is pretty bad. He hit Robby Keene with a cheap shot, vandalized Miyagi-Do, stole Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor, and beat up lots of people who didn't necessarily deserve it. There's really a laundry list of unsavory things Hawk has done, though turning his back on sensei Johnny Lawrence may be the absolute worst.

If it wasn't for Johnny's teachings, Hawk would not have gotten the confidence that led to so many things he enjoyed in life. Unfortunately, he's fully in line with John Kreese, who is about the worst person to model your life after, it seems. Johnny knows firsthand following Kreese won't lead to many positive things in your life, and it stands to reason Hawk may learn the same lesson if he continues down that path. If nothing else, he'll certainly do more heinous stuff, and harm others in the process, which is no good.

Is Hawk A Bad Guy, Or Just Misunderstood?

Hawk does some truly awful things in Cobra Kai, but the real thing to focus on is why. Most everything Hawk does that is unsavory is tied to Cobra Kai and its teachings, and the way that way of living has positively impacted his life. Hawk became a much more confident and self-assured person when he bought in, so it only makes sense that he'd continue to be passionate about the school and protect its interests whenever possible.

It's easy to forget that, at the end of the day, these are all hormonal teens who don't always make the best decisions. Johnny Lawrence was arguably worse than Hawk in his youth, and Cobra Kai has shown he can be a good guy. The influence of the dojo on Hawk is great, but also the motivation for a bulk of his misdeeds. He deserves some blame for what he does, but it's impossible to ignore he's been indoctrinated by adults who put him on the wrong path.

Miguel and Hawk Cobra Kai Netflix

Will Hawk Find Redemption In Season 3?

Cobra Kai is, in many ways, a show that explores the gray area of its characters. The good guys aren't always sympathetic, and the bad guys have changed between these two seasons. Hawk may be the absolute worst by the time Season 2 was over, but that's not to say he can't make a turnaround in Season 3.

It will truly be a test of his character especially now that Hawk is in with John Kreese. I have to imagine Kreese will continue to encourage Hawk to engage in bad behavior, and one has to wonder just how far Hawk will go to stay true to Cobra Kai. Will he finally reach a breaking point where enough is enough, or will he go so far that he's set on a path similar to what led Johnny to where he ended up? It's something I'd love to see tackled in Season 3, and hopefully, Hawk returns to being a good guy.

Cobra Kai Season 1 and 2 are currently available to stream on Netflix. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for the latest happening with the series, and for more news happening in television and movies.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.