The ninth film of the Fast & Furious franchise is due to hit movie theaters on June 25, 2021, and with it, fans may be getting one very big emotional surprise with We Got This Covered saying the movie will feature the return of Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner.
When Paul Walker was tragically killed in an auto accident in 2013, filming of Furious 7 had not been completed. It took some creative CGI and the help of Walker’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, but Furious 7 director James Wan was able to pull off a small miracle.
The ending was a perfect send-off and tribute to the late actor, one that left Fast fans in tears. But it was an ending. Walker’s Brian was able to ride off into the sunset, his character still alive, heading into “retirement”, happy with his family. Now, though, there are reports that Walker’s Brian will be making one more appearance in the Fast franchise. You may wish to stop here if you don’t want to know just how Walker’s Brian O’Conner is involved in F9.
Apparently, Paul Walker’s appearance will be toward the end of the picture. Knowing that his character is still alive and well within the Fast & Furious universe, we will see Dom’s crew sitting around enjoying a meal. Dom says that they still have one more guest who will be joining them. The scene then cuts to a recognizable car out front with Brian sitting in it. Of course, since this is archival footage being used, fans will not be seeing Walker interact with any of the actors. Even with that said, it’s a nice little nod to the man who meant so much to the franchise and who was taken way too soon.
There is also word that more footage of Paul Walker was intended for the film, but this last bit was the only one that made director Justin Lin’s final cut. Nevertheless, getting one last look at Paul Walker is sure to make fans of the Fast & Furious franchise giddy with emotions.
Paul Walker’s effect on the franchise goes without saying. His death was tragic, the loss immeasurable. His spirit, though, lives on. Not just on film, but, according to series lead Vin Diesel, when it came to Diesel making important casting decisions for F9, like when John Cena came on board.
“I remember once we started getting closer to production, [director] Justin [Lin] and I would talk about how harrowing it would be to actually cast a new Toretto, the brother of Toretto,” Diesel said via Comicbook.com. “There’s so many different directions you could go. And I remember John Cena coming into this Dom Shrine that I had where I would kind of go to meditate and train and start getting into that Dom state of mind. And I remember John coming in and… call this crazy, but I remember feeling as though Pablo, Paul Walker, had sent him in.” Then he added, “I remember talking to Justin that night and saying, ‘My gut and my heart feels like this was meant to be.’”
While Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner does appear toward the end of F9, future appearances are unknown. The original Fast & Furious franchise is set to end after two more films, F9 and F10, but the use of any other Paul Walker archival footage has not been discussed, at least not publicly. But if F10 is truly the end of the franchise and Brian O’Conner is still part of it, one can almost bet that there is a good likelihood his face will be seen one more time.
Of course, the future, other than F10, of the overall franchise is yet to be determined. The Dwayne Johnson/Jason Statham spin-off Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw was a nice addition to the expanded FF universe but future films with the duo are unknown. Given Johnson’s extremely busy schedule (Black Adam, The King, San Andreas 2, Doc Savage), if it were to be continued with the two, who knows when they’d be able to shoot the movie.
For now, we get F9 and a glimpse of Paul Walker. That’s a sad thing, but it is also a good thing. Whether this represents complete closure remains to be seen. Enjoy it for what it is.