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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

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On January 25th of last year, I shared a report with you regarding xXx: Return of Xander Cage while that project was still in its earliest stages. In that report, I shared with you a pair of rumors that- if true- suddenly made this new xXx far more interesting. While one of them remains merely a rumor (one that we won’t know the status of until the film arrives in theaters), the other already seems to be coming true.



It would appear that xXx: Return of Xander Cage will definitely not be a one-off, and that Paramount and star Vin Diesel are hoping it becomes the next Fast & Furious franchise. Why do I say that? Because, according to Diesel, Paramount is already trying to lock up the cast to shoot a fourth film in May.

“I was in the middle of an interview and Brad Grey — who runs Paramount — calls me and says, ‘Will everybody come back to work in May?’ I’m like – ‘Everyone’s in interviews right now!’”

While it’s never notable or surprising when a studio wants to milk a movie for sequels, what that phrasing by Diesel reveals is that last year’s rumor about the xXx series becoming more like the Fast & Furious franchise was spot on. Remember, the first xXx was a solo vehicle for Diesel, who was a rising superstar at the time. It was all about him, with Samuel L. Jackson in there as his supporting second banana in the cast. With xXx: Return of Xander Cage, the cast of characters has exploded to include Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose, Rory McCann, Kris Wu and Ariadna Gutiérrez.

And Diesel says Paramount wants “everybody” to come back in May. 

So, barring their onscreen death in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, the fourth xXx film will be an international family affair very similar to Diesel’s other high-octane series.

This brings a few things to mind:

  1. It shows great humility by Diesel, who was once popular for starring in films and then bailing on sequels (as he did for both xXx and The Fast and The Furious), to want to come back and not hog all the spotlight
  2. It demonstrates that Paramount realizes what a gold mine the Fast & Furious formula has become, having picked up the xXx rights from Columbia and effectively turned it into a clone of the car series
  3. This will be interesting to watch, since Diesel is the face of both franchises, meaning there’s going to have to be a lot of work put into differentiating them so that each can stand on its own 
  4. In an age where Hollywood gets a lot of heat for whitewashing and for being too focused on white males, both the xXx and F&F franchises feature extremely diverse casts- both in terms of race and gender
  5. Considering how similar the two series look to become, is it possible that Diesel has been written out- or killed off– following Fate of The Furious? He is the villain of that flick, after all…

For my money, #3 is the one that needs the most attention. Based on trailers, if I were a more casual fan, I’d see xXx: Return of Xander Cage as some sort of off-shoot/spinoff of the F&F series. Assuming I don’t know that his character is named Dom in the F&F flicks, I may just assume that the xXx movies are what that character does in his off time. So they’re likely going to have to step up their efforts to make xXx look and feel different if this Two-Headed Diesel Monster Experiment is going to work.

What do you think? Can the xXx and Fast & Furious franchises run side-by-side for the next few years without the two diluting each other? Do you think it’s possible that Diesel’s F&F character will be killed off in Fate of The Furious and that’s why Paramount thinks he can pull off transitioning into xXx full time?

Hmmm….

Discuss!

SOURCE: Variety

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.