Posted by S.C. O'Donnell @Scodonnell1
Beard Enthusiast. Nerd Hybrid. Movie Fanatic. Writer. On a sesame seed bun. Follow me on Twitter: Scodonnell1
S.C. O'Donnell

The Fast and Furious franchise is financial juggernaut. It has become the epitome of what it means to be a blockbuster action film — for good reason as well. They are vastly entertaining and allow the audience to suspend disbelief and just have fun and forget about their troubles for two hours.

Going on its eighth film, the franchise is stronger than ever even with the passing of one of its stars: Paul Walker. Walker past away before completing the seventh film in the franchise. James Wan, the director of the film did a beautiful job of retiring his character, using Walker’s brothers (Cody and Caleb Walker) and two stand-ins to finish the rest of his scenes.

Although the character of Brian O’Conner was given a wonderful send off in Furious 7, a report has surfaced that he could appear in Fast 8 directed by F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton). In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Paul Walker's brothers Caleb and Cody stated:

"I had a phone call with Vin for about an hour and we really discussed this a while back. He wanted [our] blessing," Caleb continued, noting that Diesel wanted to check with them to see if it "would be acceptable to maybe bring Paul's character back… to really kind of let his fans know he's still out there." Cody then said, "Universal wants to make sure to be respectful of Paul and his image too, and his family."

So this begs the questions: Why bring back Paul Walker's character? What are some ways this can be accomplished while still respecting his memory? Well, let's break down things to get a better picture.

The Best Intentions

For the sake of optimism we are going to take an altruistic approach to the return of Brian O'Conner. He was a wonderful character and a integral part of the Fast and Furious franchise. There are many positive reasons to bring him back for Fast 8:

  • The Fans Love Him — This is almost goes without saying but it is a strong point. Fans were devastated by the loss of Paul Walker. His appearance in Furious 7 was bitter sweet. His send off at the end of the movie left not one dry eye in the theater. Putting him back even in a small role is a good way to honor his memory and let the fans know he is not forgotten.

  • He is and will forever be apart of the Fast and Furious universe — At the end of Furious 7, Brian O'Conner left the gang to go be with his family. This was a beautiful way to write him out of the story. It was a creative way to say that Paul Walker lives on through his work and in the hearts of all of his fans. So, the fact remains that the character is still in the universe, making it possible for him to interact on some level with Dom (Vin Diesel) and his band of merry men and women.

  • It would help keep the memory and legacy of Paul Walker alive — Bringing him back in any way solidifies the ending of Furious 7, meaning that he lives on through the movies. That is one of the wonderful things that films do — it allows people that shared their talent with the world to continue to do so even after they have passed.

All of these are very respectful and understandable reasons for Paul Walker to return to the franchise. It might not be necessary in any capacity, but that doesn't mean it can't be great. People are very attached to this character and may feel that having him back would be an overall positive thing to happen. That all being said, there are enough heartfelt and positive reasons for this to happen. So how would they do it while still being respectful?

Handle With Care

The idea of bringing Paul Walker back is a heavy one and needs to be handled well. Worse case scenario — if it is not done well, the backlash could hurt the entire franchise and do irreparable damage. It's doubtful that would happen, but it is a possibility. Here are some ways that a Paul Walker appearance in Fast 8 could work:

  • A Small Cameo or Cut Scene — Using his brothers as a stand-ins, have him show up from afar and with limited interaction with the cast. It would be best to only have him interact with Dom (Vin Diesel) or have him in a car like they did in the final scene of Furious 7.

  • A Phone Call — This is probably the most likely way a Paul Walker scene could be pulled off with the most tact. They could have him talking to someone on the phone and cut to older footage they had from before or use some form of "movie magic" to accomplish this. This keeps the contact with current cast members to a minimum but still accomplishes something memorable.

  • A Letter — This suggestion could seem like a cheap ploy (since they said they would actually have Paul Walker in the film), but overall would be the most respectful. There is no need for a physical stand-in and his voice could be dubbed to have the letter read aloud to the audience. It would let the fans know he is not forgotten and could be quite moving if done right.

The studio handled the character with grace and respect on Furious 7, so there is no reason they wouldn't again. The ideas listed above are just a few that could work on including Paul Walker in this franchise that he helped build.

Want to more information on Fast 8? Check out:

His Memory Lives On

In the end, it seems crazy that a bonkers, action-adventure film franchise now has to carry a massive amount of emotional weight, which they have done in remarkable fashion thus far. Seeing how Paul Walker's character was handled in Furious 7 really gives the benefit of the doubt to Universal. Before then the series was not known for its emotional poignancy. They knocked it out of the park against all odds. They most likely will continue to do so and help keep the memory of Paul Walker alive and well in the hearts of all of his fans.

If you feel like going for all the feels, the music video tribute to the late Paul Walker below contains all of his Fast and Furious appearances, watch it here:

What do you think? Do you want to see Paul Walker in Fast 8? Do you think it will be handled well? Let it be known in the comments below!

[Sources: IMDb, Wikipedia, Entertainment Weekly]