The Karate Kid and its string of sequels are one of the true icons of family-friendly 80s cinema. References to Mr. Miyagi are as rife in pop culture as nods to The Goonies and The Princess Bride. The fourth installment of the series even featured two-time Oscar winner Hillary Swank.
Because of that, fans have spent a long time lost in The Karate Kid universe thinking and overthinking about how the movie works and whether or not its heroes and villains are truly the people the movie portrays them as. Karate Kid hero Daniel is, according to YouTuber J. Matthew Turner, “a violent sociopath who moves to a California town and begins tormenting a local boy and his friends.” The movie’s villain, Johnny, says Turner, is actually “a high school senior with a commitment to atone for past mistakes and move his life forward in a positive direction.”
The fan theory continues to dissect the core of the film — the conflict between the bully and the bullied, pitting the audience’s sympathies for The Karate Kid instead of Johnny. Turner argues that Daniel is actually a grudge-holding lunatic who continuously goes after Johnny even though their argument has long since fizzled out.
While some might say the theory is reaching a little bit, you can decide for yourself if The Karate Kid‘s narrative arc has been steering us wrong all along.