Charlize Theron is one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and admired actresses. She is also one of blockbuster cinema’s most electric action stars, having stolen the thunder from the title character in the all-timer Mad Max: Fury Road, cracked dozens of skulls in Atomic Blonde and headlined the smash-hit Netflix bruiser The Old Guard.
Now, buried in a story about Netflix’s upcoming sequel to Theron’s immortal warrior hit The Old Guard, Variety reports that Theron’s Fate of the Furious and F9 villain Cipher could soon be getting a spinoff. In a throwaway line, reporter Marc Maclin simply says “Meanwhile, Vin Diesel tells me that he has writers working on a Fast & Furious spinoff for Theron’s character, Cipher.”
Under almost any circumstance, it would be tremendous news that Furiosa herself would be gearing up for a solo outing in the world’s biggest street-racers-turned-spacebound-spies series. But the thing is, Cipher… is kind of a dud.
One of the biggest sins of the Fast franchise is the fact that it had a star of Theron’s caliber on its roster and relegated her to an exposition machine. A master hacker and global cyberterrorist gets very, very little to do in the series beyond menacingly spout technobabble, fly above the action in futuristic planes, Google things aggressively, bark orders at henchmen and sport questionable hairdos ranging from Fate’s “midwestern mom spent a weekend at Sandals Jamaica” dreads to F9’s chic bowl cut.
That doesn’t mean there’s not an interesting film to be made with the character, who does have a knack for remote-controlling vehicles to cause mayhem, having piloted a ghost plane in the most recent outing and masterminded a fleet of "zombie cars" in Fate. But considering Cipher straight-up murdered Vin Diesel’s baby mama and put his secret son in peril in the previous film, asking us to root for the character is a lot.
Of note, though: Said secret son was rescued from certain doom by Jason Statham’s Dekard Shaw — who himself got his own spinoff, Hobbes and Shaw (along with former antagonist Dwayne Johnson) after Shaw presumably murdered Fast hero Han and laid waste to scores of cops. So who knows, maybe Cipher will eventually make a heel turn and score a Nobel Peace Prize for resurrecting Dom's dead girlfriend or something.
Or, even more likely, the yet-unofficial Cipher film would be a prequel. That would come with a certain amount of irony given Theron's most iconic character, Furiousa, is currently getting her own prequel, with Ana Taylor-Joy in the role.
We can expect a lot of talk about spinoff characters in the coming years: The unexpectedly enduring mainline series will wrap with its 11th (!!!) installment. Perhaps we’ll get a film about Helen Mirren’s Queenie Shaw drag racing around the London Underground, or Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody opening a Belgian beer shop that’s actually a spy syndicate a la Kingsman.
It's Vin Diesel's world, and if the man wants to give Charlize Theron another action franchise, character traits and history be damned, we'll have to just go with it. Even if it's a gearhead musical.