Some of you readers may look down your nose at the Fast and the Furious movie franchise. You might complain there's no substance, that it's just glorified car porn filled with adrenaline and that the plot is only there to take viewers from one absurd action scene to the next. And you would be right. But that does not change the fact that the Fast and the Furious is the greatest movie franchise of this century, and one of the best of all time.
I will not sit here and tell you that your opinion that these movies aren't very good is wrong. Everyone is entitled to incorrect opinions. But when it comes to judging the success of movie franchises, it comes down to facts, not opinions. And here, dear reader, are the facts. I hope by the end, you can see greatness when it's right in front of you.
Fast and the Furious has grossed $5.9 billion dollars over the course of eight movies. That is 10th-most all-time. The nine movie franchises in front of it had the advantage of books to use as source material (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter), comic books to use both as source material and start off with a sizable fanbase to begin with (Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman), or began before this century, automatically eliminating them from this conversation (bye-bye, Star Wars, and James Bond). None of that is to say those franchises are bad. But Fast and the Furious was built from the ground up and succeeded wildly -- a much more impressive endeavor. It is worth pointing out that Furious 7 grossed $1.5 billion, the ninth-highest total of all-time. That was the one where they drove through skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi. It was worth every penny. Also, all these movie franchises would have ended after one film if they called Dominic Toretto instead of Frodo or Iron Man, but I digress.
Fast and the Furious has remarkable longevity on its side. Every movie (with the exception of Tokyo Drift, which we do not speak of in polite company, and 2 Fast 2 Furious, which is fine) contains the central cast of characters that makes the movies what they are. The first came out in 2001. Fast 9, the most recent installment, was set to come out this year before it was pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. When that day comes, it will mark a 20-year run of relevance and excellence. No other franchise in the 21st century can match that.
The MCU has its characters come together, but its main money is made by giving each character their own movie, The Avengers trilogy made more money, but took place over an eight-year time-span. There are young adults out there who will be nearly ready to buy their first drink when Fast 9 comes out and don't know a world without Fast and the Furious. And it's not even done yet!
You think these movies are only about fast cars and fistfights between Vin Diesel and The Rock? Buddy, do I got news for you. Family is what these movies are all about. The best films make you care about the characters in a very personal way, and what isn't there to love about Roman and Brian? Dom and Letty? The barbecues at the end of most of the movies are the best scenes by a long shot. You feel things when you watch these movies that have nothing to do with adrenal glands, a tough balance for action flicks nowadays.
Some say the best franchises evolve over time. None has done that as well as Fast and the Furious. You may label it ridiculous that Toretto and the crew go from robbing trucks filled with DVD players to blowing up a nuclear submarine in Iceland to prevent Charlize Theron from starting a world war. You know what I call that? Growth. You need it to survive in everything, including the movie industry. Fast and the Furious did that, and look where it's gotten them, a historically successful film franchise about street racing. They didn't need the epic backdrop of some world-ending threat. They just needed some Nos.
There are better movies. There are more profitable movie franchises. But none possess the combination of breadth, success, and monumental scale of the Fast and the Furious. If you don't agree, I respectfully disregard your opinion and will crack a Corona in preparation for my sixth viewing of the safe scene from Fast Five.