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Cobra Kai Star Had One Requirement For Mike Barnes' Return

Mike Barnes actor Sean Kanan details his one requirement for returning to the character in Cobra Kai season 5. Kanan made a long-awaited comeback to The Karate Kid franchise when he reprised his role as Mike Barnes in the Netflix series. The character was first introduced in The Karate Kid Part III, a villain hired by Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) due to his intimidating reputation. Silver trained Mike while manipulating Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) to unleash his dark side. When Mike and Daniel came head to head in the All Valley Karate Tournament, Silver had Mike fight dirty, but Daniel still beat him in the end.

Over three decades later, Mike and Daniel reunited in Cobra Kai, when Daniel sought out old allies of Silver’s in order to get ahead of the other man’s sinister plans. When Daniel and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) found the man previously known as “Karate’s Bad Boy,” they discovered a changed man. Mike had put the past behind him, settling down with his wife and becoming a successful furniture store owner. However, once Silver got wind of his contact with Daniel, he had Mike’s store destroyed, which led to a downward spiral that saw Mike returning to karate to fight alongside Daniel, Chozen, and Johnny. Mike’s journey in Cobra Kai season 5 may have been a surprise to some fans, but it led to exciting team-ups and fight scenes that fans of the franchise had been waiting for. However, it almost didn’t happen, according to Kanan.

Related: Every Rocky Reference In Cobra Kai Season 5 (& Which Is The Best One)

In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Kanan reveals his one condition for appearing on Cobra Kai. The actor said that he was excited to return to the Karate Kid franchise, but he wanted to portray a Mike with more layers rather than the superficial character he was introduced as. Luckily, the creators were willing to listen. See Kanan’s full statement below:

Kanan’s comments bring additional context to the version of Mike that made it to the screen. In Cobra Kai season 5, Mike is a fully realized and developed character with his own motivations, needs, and flaws. Compared to his one-note Karate Kid III performance, which was centered on his greed and violence as a fighter, Cobra Kai‘s Mike has realized the errors of his teenage brutish ways and worked to better himself. Though he falls back into old habits by returning to the fight, he has a good cause for the aggression in this case as he’s working with Daniel and Chozen to get back at Silver. Kanan’s instinct that Mike would have evolved was right, and led to a satisfying and interesting storyline for the legacy character.

Kanan’s mention of Cobra Kai creators’ willingness to work with the actors is likely one of the reasons for the series’ continued success. Because Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg are creating the show alongside many actors who have spent much more time in the Karate Kid franchise, it makes sense that they would value the input of the original actors. As fans wait for Cobra Kai season 6, they can rest assured that the creators will go on honoring what the original actors had in mind for their characters, making the legacy series a collaborative environment on and off the mat.

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