Kung Fu Panda 4: Why the Furious Five Are Missing, Explained by Director (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Kung Fu Panda 4, Furious Five

The director of Kung Fu Panda 4 just explained why the Furious Five was absent from the franchise's fourth movie.

The iconic group of Kung Fu Masters was introduced in the very first film in the franchise, made up of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Mantis (Seth Rogen). Since their introduction, they’ve played critical roles in every installment since—until now.

While the group gets a brief mention towards the start of the movie (and one other surprise moment later on), they do not partake in Po’s journey to take down Viola Davis’ The Chameleon.

[ Kung Fu Panda 4 Cast, Characters & Voice Actors (Photos) ]

Why Were the Furious Five Missing From Kung Fu Panda 4?

Kung Fu Panda Furious Five
Kung Fu Panda

The Direct’s Russ Milheim sat down exclusively with Kung Fu Panda 4 director Mike Mitchell, who explained why the Furious Five was missing from the movie.

Mitchell explained that they "wanted to expand the world” and how the roster of characters "starts to get really crowded:"

"Well, you know, it's a part four, and we wanted to expand the world, and we wanted to take Po out of the Valley of Peace for the first time. And already, we're inheriting a great cast. Dustin Hoffman, as Shifu, has to come along. Definitely, James Hong, as his dad, Mr. Ping, he's a must In my mind. I'm a super fan. He's got to be there. And then Bryan Cranston is such a great combo platter as the new dad that was introduced as Li in the last film. So it starts to get really crowded."

Excising the Furious Five from the immediate plot "really [made] room for more characters:"

"And we thought it was exciting. We started to explore what could the Furious Five be doing. And so when you watch our film, as you know, you get to see what the series five, all their other tasks are. They're all off on separate weird, cool missions. And we thought that was interesting. And then it was just to make room for more characters like Granny Board [played by Lori Tan Chinn]. Ronny Chieng is the fish. We have a lot of new characters."

Mitchell teased how he made sure to "give [audiences] a taste of things to come" with the film’s final sequence—which brings the Furious Five back in a training montage alongside Po and Zhen:

"We just really wanted to expand the world and bring in new characters without getting crowded. And then, at the same time, we felt that we gave the diehard Furious Five fans—I love the Furious Five—a taste of things to come at the end of our film… But you know, we give them a taste of what they're off doing. And then a taste of, like, they're going to be back."

When asked if Kung Fu Panda 4 is the final film in the franchise, the director admitted "[he] can't answer any questions like that" for fear of being sent "to the Spirit Realm."

But the director went on to make it clear that if Jack Black is going to continue as the character; he’ll be there in some way or another:

"Well, listen, I can't answer any questions like that. The studio would probably, you know, give me the finger holds and send me to the Spirit Realm if I tattled. But I'll say this: If Jack Black is going to be playing the Kung Fu Panda, I'm going to, whether I'm working on it or sitting in the audience with popcorn, I'm going to be there, man. Because I think Jack Black--I mean, that's the reason that this franchise stands the test of time."

"I think that's what makes this such a successful franchise," he added, explaining how "there’s a very fine line between Jack Black and Kung Fu Panda:"

"That guy is so funny. I mean, he is the Kung Fu Panda. There's a very fine line between Jack Black and the Kung Fu Panda. He does like kung fu kicks. Like he could kick me in the face, Jack Black could, with his high kick. He's enthusiastic; he's super positive, like Po. He's like a man-child... Anyway, he's just the best, and I think that's what makes this such a successful franchise. So if Jack's back, I'm back."

The Furious Five Will (Probably) Return

While fans certainly missed the Furious Five, it seems that their absence didn't hurt the film’s reception all too much. Currently, the film is sitting at a respectable 70% critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In his conversation with The Direct, Kung Fu Panda 4 director Mike Mitchell also exclaimed how if he continued the series, he would make sure to have “the Furious Five front and center.”

Although it may have been sad not to see the iconic group partake in Po and Zhen’s quest, thankfully, there seems to be plenty of desire behind the scenes to get them back into the action—something also shown by their arrival in the film’s ending training montage.

While Mitchell explained the reasoning for the team’s absence was story-based, it is hard not to feel it was more of a budget concern. Those talented voices do not come cheap, and even if their brief appearance in the film’s final moments, none of their respective actors return.

Either way, rest assured the Furious Five will undoubtedly return if the franchise continues.

Kung Fu Panda 4 is now playing in theaters worldwide.

Ream more about Kung Fu Panda 4:

Kung Fu Panda 4: Mr. Beast Special Cameo Explained

Kung Fu Panda 4 Celebrates Release Date in First Official Clip

- In This Article: Kung Fu Panda 4
Release Date
March 08, 2024
Jack Black
Jackie Chan
Seth Rogen
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.