Cobra Kai: William Zabka, Ralph Macchio Spar Over Who's the Bad Guy

When it comes to one of the screen's most intense rivalries, it's the one depicted in The Karate Kid (1984) and its television successor Cobra Kai. Netflix attempted to "settle" the long debate, "Who's the real bad guy" between Ralph Macchio's Daniel LaRusso and William Zabka's Johnny Lawrence. The first scene talked about a scene in the original 1984 film when Daniel strikes up a conversation with Ali (Elizabeth Shue). Johnny takes exception to Daniel's "intrusion" and starts getting rough. The clip replays the scene while splicing the recap from Johnny's point of view in Cobra Kai.

A look at Cobra Kai season 2 (Image: YouTube/Netflix)
A look at Cobra Kai season 2 (Image: YouTube/Netflix)

The two go back and forth playfully and Zabka defends Johnny's actions in his training and doubled down on, "Daniel should have minded his own business" as Macchio gives an amused response. The second scene is also from the film when Johnny and his crew are in skeleton costumes and beating Daniel up. Coyly, Zabka saying, "It's clear, Daniel LaRusso deserved every one of those punches." He provided "subtle" commentary claiming "Johnny was just looking for a peaceful night out. The third scene highlighted was their initial reunion in the first season of Cobra Kai when Johnny visits Daniel's dealership. With Daniel's employees surrounding Johnny, they bust his chops a little with the banter.

Cobra Kai: Johnny Views How "The Karate Kid" Went Down a Bit Different (Image: screencap)
Cobra Kai: Johnny Views How "The Karate Kid" Went Down a Bit Different (Image: screencap)

In "round four", Johnny sees Daniel's face on his billboard where in his drunken state, decides to spray paint "a rocket" Zabka claims by his rival's face calling it "an improvement." Macchio plays it off saying Johnny left so much space on the right side of the billboard. The fifth round is during Johnny's reinstatement hearing for Cobra Kai. As he humbly responds to the committee, the former prized pupil of John Kreese (Martin Kove) pleads his case that his intentions differ from his former sensei. Johnny was also subjected to Daniel's berating at the hearing of the dojo's past as its harshest critic. Before lobbing one last pot at Johnny calling him "passive-aggressive", Macchio reminds the appeal of rooting for the "down-and-out" guy getting in the way of Johnny's redemption. Zabka brings the focus back to who the "real" bad guy of the franchise is Kreese and both agreed it's not about the bad student, but a bad teacher. In the end, Zabka pleads the fifth as "he's too close to this" and Macchio said there are moments when either is the bad guy, which makes the series so appealing. Season three of Cobra Kai will stream on Netflix in 2021.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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