The latest Fast & Furious film delivered the franchise’s most absurd resurrection yet. A Fast X mid-credits scene not only brought back Gal Gadot’s Gisele ten years after she seemingly fell to her death, it had her show up in Antarctica on a submarine. But in true Fast & Furious fashion, that somehow that wasn’t even the film’s most shocking, most mind-blowing moment. That honor belongs to another character’s surprise return. Because even though we knew was definitely still alive, Dwayne Johnson swore he would never again play Luke Hobbs for the series main films, yet he is clearly in Fast X.
What does the return of Luke Hobbs during Fast X‘s mid-credits scene mean for the future of the films onscreen? And why did offscreen issues make his Fast return seem impossible? Here’s everything you need to know about the unlikely road back to the Fast & Furious for Dwayne Johnson.
Dwayne Johnson’s Previous Offscreen Issues with His Fast & Furious Male Co-Stars
In 2016, ahead of his last week filming The Fate of the Furious (8) Dwayne Johnson criticized unnamed male co-stars in a since deleted Instagram post. In it he wrote, “Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t.”
Johnson never specified which male colleagues he specifically considered “chicken sh*t” and “candy a**es.” (This is a wresting joke, obvs.) However, reports at the time said “tension” had been building for months between him and Vin Diesel. (Stories about Diesel’s alleged offscreen behavior and demands are notorious. Sources also say he was the reason longtime director Justin Lin abruptly left Fast X.)
Over the years subsequent public comments from the franchise’s stars, as well as a controversial spinoff, narrowed the field of who Johnson did and did not consider a professional.
Hobbs & Shaw Leads to More Offscreen Drama
After the franchise’s eighth film finished Johnson starred in the series’ only spinoff with Jason Statham in 2019’s Hobbs & Shaw. That film, which pushed back the making and release of Fast 9, led an angry Tyrese Gibson to publicly state he would not return as Roman Pearce if Johnson also appeared in the main franchise’s ninth installment. Gibson then reignited the spat two years later with his own now deleted Instagram post. In it he ripped both the spinoff and Johnson after the film’s subpar opening weekend.
But as bad as all of that was, Johnson seemed to finally slam the car door shut on a potential return to the Fast & Furious return in 2021.
The Rock Accuses Vin Diesel of “Manipulation”
In October of 2020 Universal Pictures announced Fast X would be the first part of a two-movie franchise finale. ( It may or may not end up being a trilogy, instead.) The Rock, who had been such an important part of the series since Luke Hobbs’ debut in Fast 5, said he would not be appearing in either film.
Despite their obvious issues, Vin Diesel tried to lure Johnson back with an Instagram post of his own. That one—in all its bizarre Vin Diesel-esque glory/shamelessness—is still up. It’s also still shocking in its tone and message.
To the surprise of no one, Dwayne Johnson did not appreciate Diesel’s approach to coaxing/embarrassing him into a return.
The Rock responded in blunt terms about Diesel’s post during an interview with CNN shortly after. He said it “surprised” him because the two had spoken privately and “directly” over social media months earlier. Johnson said he had already told Diesel in “firm yet cordial” terms he “would always be supportive of the cast and always root for the franchise to be successful, but that there was no chance I would return.”
While Johnson wished the franchise, his former co-stars and crew, and fans success, Diesel’s ploy seemed to backfire spectacularly. In December of 2021 it seemed impossible Dwayne Johnson would ever again appear in a Fast & Furious film. How could he after all of that?
Dwayne Johnson Makes a Truly Shocking Return Along with Gal Gadot in Fast X Mid-Credits Scene
Oh, right, we forgot: money exists.
As does forgiveness, mediation, friendship, professional fulfillment, closure, studio side deals/promises, scripts that can keep two actors apart (you know, like Furious 7 and Fast & Furious 8), and a million other valid reasons that can make someone change their mind.
Dwayne Johnson will likely share his with fans eventually, but regardless of whatever offscreen drama still exists between him and his co-stars, what matters for the actual movies is that Luke Hobbs is back for the franchise’s final ride.
What Did Fast X‘s Mid-Credits Scene Reveal About Luke Hobbs?
After finding himself imprisoned for an off-the-book’s mission that went wrong, Luke Hobbs had a chance to get his old job back as Diplomatic Security Service agent at the end of The Fate of the Furious. Instead he told Mr. Nobody he was electing to spend more time with his daughter.
That quality time together didn’t last long. He got called back to action in Hobbs & Shaw, where he worked with his former enemy Deckard Shaw to save the world. Hobbs’ reunion with his family in the film seemed to be where his story would end. But Fast X found him still leading missions for a government agency again. He was part of the team searching through an empty mansion.
Why Does Jason Momoa’s Dante Reyes Hate Luke Hobbs?
Inside he found another one of Dante Reyes’ multi-monitor setups, along with a cellphone. When Hobbs answered the phone Dante let him know that while Dominic Toretto might have brought his father to that bridge it was Hobbs who put the bullets in his dad’s head. Dante is coming after Hobbs, who says he’s not hard to find.
That brief exchange indicates Dwayne Johnson will make a big and meaningful return in Fast 11 (and possibly 12 if it exists). Dante is the series-ending big bad, and he has his eyes set on making Hobbs—a father himself—suffer.
Does this mean Johnson’s beef with Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson is over for good? Have they all truly buried the hatchet for good? Or is this simply a professional decision based on what’s best for both their careers and the end of a franchise they all care about?
For fans who wanted to see Luke Hobbs back for Fast X, it doesn’t really matter. Well, so long as Dante doesn’t hurt his daughter.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.