“Fast & Furious” was already a huge success by the time Dwayne Johnson joined the entertainment, but his star power certainly helped raise the profile of the franchise. When “Fast Five” premiered, Johnson was on the verge of superstardom, but had not yet crossed that threshold. His performance as Luke Hobbs became mutually beneficial – he elevated the series, and the series elevated him.
For the next two “Fast & Furious” films, both Johnson’s star and box office returns continued to rise. It seemed as if the sky was the limit. Following the tragic death of Paul Walker, Dom and Hobbs’ relationship becomes even more important, reflecting the theme of chosen brotherhood that Dom and Brian once championed. And then, of course, everything fell apart.
At this point, Johnson’s feud with Vin Diesel is well documented. The simpler version is that the two giant men apparently developed equally massive egos — so big that the set of “Fast & Furious” was no longer big enough for both of them. Since Diesel was more established on the series (and a creator), Johnson had to depart, first being relegated to a disappointingly received spinoff and then being dumped altogether. For years, the franchise felt the weight of his absence in a big way, and the films undoubtedly suffered. This huge mistake has apparently been rectified by Johnson’s return at the end of “Fast X”, but losing him for multiple films is still something both the franchise and Diesel should be embarrassed about.