Spoilers are ahead. In between flinging cars around with magnets and going to space, the newest Fast and Furious movie managed to sneak in a mini-prequels’ worth of flashbacks. The Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) backstory we get in F9 kind of makes those rumours about a Young Dom solo film appealing. It doesn’t hurt that the Powers That Be at the Fast Saga cast the very attractive Vinnie Bennett as young Dominic Toretto, either.
Before F9, Bennett was known primarily for New Zealand television roles. You may also have spotted him in Ghost in the Shell or The Shannara Chronicles. He starred opposite Jessica Barden, Hayley Law, Camila Mendes, and Avan Jogia in the romantic comedy The New Romantic, and his next film role is in a biopic of Maori women’s rights activist Whina Cooper. But he’s part of the Fast family now, and in F9 he's shown he could carry his own in a story about young Dominic Toretto's life.
But to be perfectly clear: any rumours about a Fast prequel are just that, rumours. When Vulture asked recently about the potential for a young Dominic Toretto prequel, Diesel said "I will say that there is nothing that is off the table," thus refusing to commit either way. The backstory we see in F9, however, could very well be a way of gauging fan interest.
For one, there’s a surprisingly large amount of Hot Young Dom in F9. We see him console his little brother, Jakob (Finn Cole in flashbacks, John Cena in present day), after their dad’s death. We see them fight. We see Dom in and out of prison. The brothers even have their own extended street racing scene.
The flashbacks also give us a glimpse at Young Mia (Siena Agudong), Young Letty (Azia Dinea Hale) as well as young Teco Leo and Ric Santos (Cered and Ozuna), the inseparable members of Dom and Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) crew in the Dominican Republic that we meet in Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fate of the Furious — basically all the characters we'd need for a prequel. And based off the timeline we are shown in F9, a Young Dom movie would likely be set in the '80s or early '90s, which fits right in with Hollywood's obsession with '90s nostalgia.
Bennett is also clearly very invested. He posted an Instagram about being cast as Dom, which reads in part: "I have a personal affiliation with this role and what was required of me. Especially for one scene in particular. Some of you know why. But even if not, just know that your boy gave it his everything. Literal blood, sweat and tears. I left it all out there on the racetrack."
There's also very clearly a full story to be told about Young Dom. We learn in F9 that the Fast and Furious paterfamilias had to watch as his own father was killed in a car accident, but that’s neither the whole story nor the reason Dom is obsessed with driving. What's more important is that this moment set Dom’s biological family on a dark and divergent path until he ultimately found his chosen family with Brian (Paul Walker), Han (Sung Kang), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and the rest of the crew.
The Fast and Furious franchise has never shied away from big feelings and character-based storytelling. That’s one of the reasons that these movies have amassed such a diverse and avid fanbase. When Walker died in real life, rather than kill his character off in the franchise, Brian became a stay-at-home dad and the family enthusiastically supported that decision. Every film since then, including F9, references Brian's attendance at all family gatherings. The films also use toxic masculinity as a trojan horse to tell heightened emotional stories about friendship, love, and loyalty.
And now, there is something really sweet and special about seeing Dom, a character we’re already emotionally invested in for years, as a young man experiencing big feelings and come into his own as a paternal figure for the first time. If the Fast franchise wanted to continue that backstory in more detail with this younger cast, I know a few million of us who would be first in line.