Commentary: ‘Cobra Kai’ Has A More Impressive Universe Than Marvel

by Frank Martin

It’s hard to think of a more impressive cinematic universe than what Marvel Studios has done first with their films and shows on Disney+. At first, it started off small with cameos. It then built up to the first Avengers film, but the universe has taken on a whole life of its own now that is now over a decade old. The Marvel Cinematic Universe actually uses characters and previous plot lines to generate new material. Each of the characters has intricate relationships that can be used as jumping off points for new stories without introducing any other elements. It has become a truly cohesive universe, but it is actually the second best cinematic universe behind Netflix’s Cobra Kai.

Like Marvel’s humble beginnings, Cobra Kai started in a similar manner. It merely posed a question about the first Karate Kid movie and followed it up with a sequel decades later. But as the series went on, it too began to expand in the same way that the MCU did. The show visited Japan, touching upon ideas from The Karate Kid: Part 2. Then it re-introduced Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), once again drawing upon the original film series by utilizing elements from The Karate Kid: Part 3.

That alone isn’t what makes it better than the MCU. The MCU did something exceptional by using its own characters and plots to generate new stories, much like a star that burns by using its own fuel source. This past season of Cobra Kai reached that level when it took elements from all three Karate Kid films and created something entirely original. By the season’s end, the show had villains from all three Karate Kid films — characters that had no previous interaction with each other — and had them team up to fight another villain from the films. And they did this thirty-plus years after the characters debuted. That alone is a triumphant achievement and makes it the best cinematic universe.

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