Back to the Future and The Karate Kid by Robert Zemeckis are undisputed 1980's classics. From their beloved actors to their enthralling narratives to their epic soundtracks, these two films are among the finest films the 1980s had to offer.
It's a given that Back to the Future and The Karate Kid are basically the same. Whether it's a similar cast, similar storytelling, or the possibility of reboots from the same authors or even sharing the same actors, they're often interchangeable.
A Troubled Teen Boy
The 1980s were packed with Tiger Beat magazine poster-worthy heartthrobs, and two, without a doubt, were Ralph Macchio and Michael J. Fox. It was their respective roles in BTTF and TKK that swooned the fangirls.
Daniel LaRusso of Macchio and Fox's Marty McFly are the adolescent leads in their films who embark on unexpected adventures with their older male mentors as they fight for their right to be who they are, whether it's Reseda, California, or The Future.
The Older Mentor
Doc Brown is a quirky but likable scientist who unintentionally creates time travel and manipulates a DeLorean as his time machine in BTTF. Pat Morita, the late Karate sensei who takes Daniel under his wing and teaches him about life and self-defense, was also featured.
Doc is a bit less funny and Mr. Miyagi is quiet with a dry wit, but these two actors act as the second protagonists in their films as they befriend and guide a youngster who becomes their best friend.
Face Off With The Bully
In most 80s films, bullies play a significant role, and BTTF and TKK are no exception. Both as adolescents and as adults, Thomas F. Wilson played Johnny Lawrence, Daniel's arch foe at karate events.
At some point or another, the protagonists defy the antagonists, either by beating them in the All Valley or by accident crashing into a truck of manure.
The Same Girlfriend
In Back to the Future, Marty dates Jennifer, who doesn't play a significant role in the first film but is introduced to the future with Marty and Doc in the sequel. In The Karate Kid, Daniel defeats Ali (with an "I"), accidentally stealing her from Johnny Lawrence.
Jennifer from BTTF was originally played by Claudia Wells, but she was later recast for the second and third films by actress Elisabeth Shue, who is well-known for her role as Ali in TKK and its Netflix remake Cobra Kai, giving Marty and Daniel the same exact girlfriend.
Most 80s films were standalone, from The Breakfast Club to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and some were the exception, sometimes becoming trilogys. In the case of Back to the Future and The Karate Kid, both were honored to be 80s trilogies.
Back to the Future was released in 1985, followed by sequels in 1989 and 1990. The Karate Kid was released just a year before in 1984, with its sequel coming out the same year as Back to the Future II and the third film following in 1994.
Almost Had The Same Lead Actor
Both Ralph Macchio and Michael J. Fox were successful before and long after their days as Daniel and Marty, but it was their starring roles in their respective films that propelled them to superstardom. However, one of the actors almost got to play both characters.
Marty McFly, the lead actor in Back to the Future, was asked to play Macchio in 2019. "But the right guy was cast, just like the right guy was cast for Daniel LaRusso," Macchio said of his audition for Marty.
Both (Might) Have Reboots
Fuller House. iCarly. Girl Meets World. In 2022, popular shows and films from the past will get reboots, and The Karate Kid is no exception. In 2018, Youtube Red (later switched to Netflix) premiered the series Cobra Kai, a follow-up to the Karate Kid films with original cast members Ralph Macchio and William Zabka.
Back to the Future is getting a reboot, and while Back to the Future: The Musical has been soaring through the West End and will soon travel to Broadway, the movie heads have yet to think about reimagining the franchise, but the Cobra Kai writers might. "If they ever change their minds and see what we did with this in the world of Karate Kid, then we would be well-prepared for any meetings that we would have in 2020," according to LRM Online.