Culture

Four Reasons the 'Fast and Furious' Franchise Matters

Dom is back … but this time he’s turned on his “family.”

If it’s spring, it’s time for a fresh installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Muscle cars. Women in barely there shorts. Antiheroes saving the day by burning rubber. Vin Diesel’s Dom and co. star in “The Fate of the Furious,” sure to Hoover up cash through the rest of April … and beyond. Diesel’s character appears to go rogue as the film opens, but could it have something to do with a new franchise foe played by Charlize Theron?

The saga remains a cash cow, of course. It has cultural implications beyond the bottom line. Consider the following four reasons why these “Furious” films matter more than you think.

1. Diversity Done Right

Remember Marvel Comics? The entertainment giant is suffering from sales shrinkage, and some folks suggest it’s tied to the company’s diversity push. Diversity on paper is great. When a company takes its most precious resources, in this instance Spider-Man, Thor and Iron Man, and forces a social justice template on it, that’s different.

The “Furious” saga is diverse to the core. Yet these characters are all new to pop culture. And we love ’em no matter our background. Or theirs.

That’s the best way to approach a more diverse brand of storytelling. Introduce great new characters and let any actor bring them to life, regardless of skin color.

2. Family Matters

Want a tough new drinking game? Drink whenever someone in the “Furious” franchise references “family.” Just be sure to have a designated driver on hand.

The saga’s characters aren’t related by blood, but they’d do anything for each other. That’s what makes family special, and it’s this bond that resonates with audiences. That transcended to behind the scenes when Paul Walker tragically died before “Furious 7” completed shooting. The cast’s outreach to Walker’s family gave the franchise a poignancy few other series’ can match.

3. Heroes Save the Day (Sans Hand Wringing)

This saga is a very 21st century construct, and yet there’s a distinct ’80s vibe to it. The good guys, or rather the lovable antiheroes, save the day without compromise. Fists are thrown, enemies are crushed.

No one tries to understand the villain’s childhood or impulses. You protect the family and innocents first and foremost by any means necessary.

4. Respecting Your Audience

Too many times these days, Hollywood doesn’t appear to have our back. Stars aren’t just getting political. They’re getting nasty. Just ask Amy Schumer, who compared Trump voters to KKK members.

Not this franchise. The folks behind the wheel “get” the audience. They know what they want and rarely stray from that formula.

Sure, it’s comfort food. But it’s a sign of both respect and pragmaticism. You won’t get any soapbox moments about a rigged system or the need to spread the wealth. It’s simple storytelling with an emphasis on razzle dazzle.

Said “dazzle” is often delirious, but we love it all the same.