Fast X Makes It Clear: The Next Step For The Series Is Time Travel, And We’re Only Kinda Joking

This article contains massive spoilers for "Fast X."

If there's a guiding principle to the "Fast & Furious" franchise, it's best summed up by one Cady Heron: the limit does not exist. After all, this is a series that, in the very first movie of the franchise, features street racing scenes where the cars go so fast they appear to travel into a psychedelic hyperspace — there's a legitimate argument to be made that "The Fast and the Furious" influenced the Wachowski's work on "Speed Racer," for cryin' out loud. Despite what a recent Twitter debate begun by people who clearly haven't been paying attention posited, the Fast Saga has never troubled itself with resembling any sort of reality.

With "Fast X," the franchise is now 10 (or 11, counting "Hobbs & Shaw") films deep, and each successive installment has seen increasingly improbable events occur. A few examples: cars being able to fly across bridges and drop safely from airplanes, characters coming back from the dead in increasingly convoluted ways, and a mission that featured two members of the Fast Family actually flying a Pontiac Fiero into outer space in order to destroy a satellite by ramming into it, and that's just for starters.

"Fast X" eagerly tries to top all that's come before in the series with such wild elements like a boulder-sized bomb rolling around the streets of Rome (while on fire), Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) driving his Dodge Charger down the face of a dam, and the appearance of Pete Davidson. Where can the series possibly go next? If the clues this writer is reading within "Fast X" are any indication, the Fast Saga has but one incredible destination ahead: time travel.

Technically, Time Travel Has Already Sorta Kinda Happened In The Fast Saga

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, however, it's first important to acknowledge that the Fast Saga has technically already dealt with a form of time travel. This particular brand of time travel doesn't actually involve people getting into machines or vehicles and going to another time period, but rather lies in the way director, co-producer and co-writer of multiple "Fast" entries, Justin Lin, moved the timeline of the series around in order to keep Han Lue (Sung Kang) alive and drifting far past his expiration date.

When Han tragically dies during the events of 2006's "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," it seemed that his demise was due to that film's plot involving a quarrel with some criminals, including the Yakuza. However, Lin was inspired by a fateful trip to Arby's with Kang soon after "Tokyo Drift" to not just come back for another installment but to keep Han alive. As he told EW in 2021:

"...we stopped at Arby's for lunch in central California, off the 5 freeway, some tiny town. All of a sudden these kids saw Sung and they were like, 'Han!' He's being swarmed. It was the first time feeling that kind of impact. I still remember, I was driving on the on-ramp back after lunch and I said, 'God, it's too bad Han is dead.' Sung looked at me and said, 'Does he have to be?' I was like, 'Oh, this is everything I was talking to Vin about, the connection. We can actually now see and create our own timeline and mythology.'"

As a result of that Beef n' Cheddar lunch, Lin brought Han back for three subsequent installments, before finally having the timeline catch up to "Tokyo Drift" at the end of 2013's "Fast & Furious."

'Fast X' Is To 'Avengers: Infinity War' What 'Fast 11' Could Be To 'Avengers: Endgame'

During his commentary track for "F9," Lin explains how he tackled the fan theory/meme about bringing the Fast Family into space for that film and goes on to describe the franchise's wonky timeline as a way to hand-wave away any fan theories about time travel. Yet stranger things have happened. Although Lin originally intended for Han to remain dead, he came back for "F9" to resurrect the character as a response to the "Justice For Han" movement, providing a wonderfully convoluted flashback story involving Han faking his own death with help from Kurt Russell's Mr. Nobody.

The Fast Saga is far from the only cinematic franchise that sees characters returning from the grave, but it is (so far) the only one where it's done without the use of magic, superpowers, or time travel. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had no problem using actual time travel to pull that trick in 2019's "Avengers: Endgame," where a past version of Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) was brought back to the future in the process of allowing the Avengers to basically do over their battle with Thanos (Josh Brolin).

As fate would have it, "Fast X" strongly resembles the "Avengers" film preceding "Endgame," 2018's "Infinity War." In that movie as in "Fast X," the ending involves a cliffhanger where a large portion of the heroes appear to have met their demise or are at least finding death imminent. With the possible exception of Jakob (John Cena), who plows directly into a group of enemy vehicles to save Dom and his nephew, Little B (Leo Abelo Perry), the characters who die in "Fast X" do so offscreen, leaving some wiggle room for the next film to provide barely plausible explanations for any of them surviving. Yet if the "Fast" filmmakers are using the "Avengers" films as a template, they might just go ahead and introduce time travel as a way of bringing the family back together.

Gotta Go Fast, Dam It!

The final moments of "Fast X" don't merely recall "Infinity War"; in fact, they strongly resemble another superhero classic altogether. In "Fast X," Dom and Little B are cornered by Dante around a dam in Portugal, and Dom manages to escape Dante's trap of two remote-controlled tanker trucks wired to explode on top of the dam by revving his Charger and careening headfirst down the side of the dam while the trucks detonate above him.

Of course, this means that the car plunges into the rushing river below, and though Dom and Little B manage to get out of the car safely, it leaves them without any means of escape. Knowing this, Dante reveals that he's wired the entire dam to explode, with Dom and Little B left helpless at the bottom of the structure.

Escaping or fixing a collapsing dam seems pretty impossible — unless, of course, you may have a way of turning back time to do so. That's exactly what Kal-El, last son of Krypton, does during the finale of 1978's "Superman," using his super-speed to literally move the Earth back in time. Of course, he's doing so in order to save the life of his beloved Lois (Margot Kidder), but in the process, he manages to fix most of the catastrophic damage that's befallen the West Coast as a result of Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and his missile attack, including the collapsing Hoover dam that threatens the life of Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure).

Could this dam incident in "Fast X" be another clue that time travel is happening in the next "Fast" film? It wouldn't be at all out of bounds for the series if Dom, bereft at the loss of his friends and victory of his foe, gets his hands on a car that goes so fast it breaks the time barrier.

Great Scott! A Heavy Clue

Speaking of time-traveling cars, one of the earliest twists in "Fast X" involves new villain Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) forcing former villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) to regroup after he performs a hostile takeover of her mercenary gang. Of all places, Cipher turns to Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) for help after Dante's attack. Bruised and bloody, she pulls up to the Toretto homestead in a prototype DeLorean Alpha 5.

Of course, the DeLorean's cinematic legacy is considerable and centered around one franchise in particular: the "Back to the Future" films, in which the classic '80s DeLorean is used as the series' main method of time travel. Just as Lin was cognizant of the "Fast" fans' time travel theories, "Fast X" director Louis Leterrier is also well aware of the idea and deliberately sought out using the prototype DeLorean as a way of having cheeky fun with the fans. Speaking to Collider, Leterrier described his reasoning for this:

" one point there was a leaked image of the Cannon car that went on the internet, and then people went crazy, and they thought that after going to space, we're going to do time travel. [Laughs] So like, after space travel was going to be time travel. And then I was like, 'Oh, I will have people go crazy by having the DeLorean pull up with shoes that look like futuristic shoes come out,' and then I was like, 'Oh yeah, let's have fun with it all.'"

Could that be all the DeLorean's appearance is? Just a playful wink to the fan theories? Or could it be something deeper, something hiding in plain sight?

Cipher Is The Key

Whatever turns out to be the case, it seems clear from "Fast X" that something very suspicious is going on with Cipher. For one thing, the character has thus far been shown to be someone several steps ahead of everyone else, and even though she was captured by competitors during the events of "F9" and allows herself to be removed by the Agency to a Black Site in "Fast X," she's always got a reason for being where she is as well as an escape plan.

For another, this appears to be a noticeably changed Cipher than the megalomaniacal villain we've come to know. Sure, the Fast Saga is notorious for having characters switch sides as well as personalities; in this movie alone, Jakob changes from a brooding superspy and spurned younger brother to a lovable, kooky uncle. Yet Cipher isn't acting contrite and trying to get Dom and the rest of the family to accept her with open arms in the way the Shaw brothers (Luke Evans and Jason Statham) or Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) did in prior entries. Instead, it appears that enlisting Dom and Letty's help is part of whatever plan she's enacting, one that culminates (for now) with the reveal that Cipher has a nuclear submarine in the Arctic, piloted by another previously deceased character: Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot).

Perhaps, however, this isn't an instance of Cipher managing to find another submarine after the one she tried to steal at the end of "The Fate of the Furious" was destroyed, and perhaps this isn't another instance of a character having faked their apparent death. What if the Cipher in "Fast X" isn't arriving directly from her encounter with Dante, but is instead coming from the future (or an otherwise different timeline) where she's already put the pieces of her ultimate plan in motion?

They Have The Technology

If there's one thing the "Fast" films have proven time and again, it's that cars can do whatever they want in this universe. That principle has been expanded over the entries to include all sorts of next-level technologies, from the world-ending-tech MacGuffins the family is asked to chase after (the Nightshade, the God's Eye, Project Aries) to the abilities of the super-secret spy agency dubbed, well, the Agency.

In "Fast X," it turns out that the Agency Black Site where Letty and Cipher are interred includes a super special laser thingy that has the ability to heal wounds pretty effectively. Not only does this offer a sort of back-door notion for making once critically-injured (maybe even dead) people healthy again, it also implies that the Agency and the Fast universe may include a far wilder assortment of advanced technology that we've yet to see. After all, the plot of "Hobbs & Shaw" involved the titular duo fighting against a techno-terrorism cult named Eteon, whose chief representative had cyborg enhancements that gave him pseudo-superhero powers.

Thanks to all these clues, the fans' time travel theories won't be quelled by the cheeky efforts of Leterrier or others after "Fast X" — in fact, they'll only grow in popularity. One devotee of the theory is half of the music duo The Living Tombstone (and sometimes comedy musician who co-writes unbiasedly amazing songs), Sam Haft, who at this point is convinced that time travel is already a fait accompli for the franchise. We're not as sure, but if it turns out to be the case, just know that we told you so.

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