When Paul Walker tragically died in the midst of production on Furious 7, director James Wan and his team pulled off a minor miracle as they not only completed the film thanks to Paul Walker’s brothers and CGI doubles, but they were able to give the character of Brian O’Conner a touching send-off as well. The Fate of the Furious confirmed that Brian and Mia (Jordana Brewster) had retired from the team in order to live a normal life, but with Mia back behind the wheel for the upcoming F9, fans have begun to wonder just what Brian is up to.
The most recent trailer for F9 found Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) watching a video of Brian, and director Justin Lin spoke with Entertainment Weekly to assure fans that Brian is still alive in the Fast & Furious universe.
Yeah, that is a constant issue and something I always want to be very respectful of. The fact that Brian O’Conner is still alive in this universe needs to be acknowledged. We’re treating F9 as the first film of the last chapter, and at some point it is something I think about and how we can really show his presence but in a respectful way. So it’s always ongoing. I feel like in 9 we’ve done it in a way that I feel good about, but, as we go into trying to wrap up the saga, it’s something that I will continue to always be thinking through.
Navigating the real-life death of Paul Walker while still keeping his character somewhat involved with the franchise he helped to build is a tricky situation, but I do wonder what their explanation for Brian’s absence in the upcoming film will be, particularly as Mia seems to be a big part of the story this time around. There have been several hints over the years that they would like to bring Brian O’Conner back in some fashion, and as Justin Lin mentioned, F9 will be setting up the final two films in the franchise, and I would bet dollars to doughnuts that Brian O’Conner will make a heroic return in one of those films, likely saving Dom’s bacon at the last moment.
The official synopsis for F9:
Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he’s going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom’s forsaken brother, Jakob (John Cena).
F9 will hit theaters on June 25, 2021.