The April Pop Culture Mashup was a challenge in which participants were each sent a list of 10 random pop culture entities. Each person then had a week to create something that incorporated at least 2 of the 10. Here is the list of 10 that Derek Bayne received: The Karate Kid, G.I. Joe, Monopoly, Alice Cooper, Powerpuff Girls, Reading Rainbow, Star Wars, Stranger Things, Indiana Jones, and Hello Kitty. View the rest of the results here.
Mike Barnes is undeniably the most ruthless of Danny LaRusso’s opponents throughout the “Karate Kid” saga. But does he have connections to Hawkins National Laboratory, the insidious lab featured in the “Stranger Thing”s series?
Barnes, also known as Karate’s Bad Boy, makes his debut in “The Karate Kid Part III,” when a couple of slimy adults hire him as a mercenary to torture and defeat Danny LaRusso, who helped bring down the Cobra Kai dojo in the first film of the series. Barnes and Eleven from “Stranger Things” have some parallels. Little is known of their past when they first show up on screen, and both have a killer instinct honed through rigorous training and testing. Both are involved in epic scenes on a cliff, in which each one breaks something (Eleven an arm of someone picking on her friend, Barnes a branch of a coveted Bonsai tree). This potentially could have been happening on the same cliff at the same time, but those reports are unconfirmed.
“”Stranger Things” detailed Eleven’s escape from the Hawkins Lab, and Mike Barnes could have made a similar escape at a younger age before his powers had reached their full potential. Eleven has the ability to move things with her mind, like she did when she threw a tantrum at Jim Hopper’s house, where he was protecting her. Barnes’ power is limited to his martial arts ability and his relentless attitude when it comes to breaking down his opponent. That’s what Johnny Lawrence and Chozen, LaRusso’s primary opponents from the first two Karate Kid movies, lacked. Much like when Eleven destroyed things at Hopper’s house, Barnes destroyed much of the Bonsai shop LaRusso hoped to help Mr. Miyagi open.
“The Karate Kid Part III” came out in 1989, about six years after the first season of Stranger Things takes place. That puts Barnes at about the right age in 1989 to compete in the Under 18 All Valley Karate Championships. Maybe he escaped in 1982 at the age of ten, putting him at 17 years old at the time of “The Karate Kid Part III.” That would explain why he never appears in “Stranger Things.” It also explains why there is never any mention of his parents, and that he can just go work for these middle aged men in their vengeance plot against another teenager. He has no family obligations, no school to worry about. Just destroying Danny LaRusso. And he does it for pretty much the entire movie, until he gets confused when LaRusso breaks into a kata during the overtime period of their title fight, and LaRusso scores a point to end the fight. Barnes dominated the action, but was instructed to intentionally take penalties to make the pain last as long as possible for LaRusso.
Eleven was able to develop her powers more than Barnes, and was able to defeat a Demogorgan, demodogs and the Mind Flayer. Maybe a little more impressive than beating up a kind of nerdy kid who lives on the West Coast.
Nonetheless, Barnes’ origin remains a mystery, and with so many parallels between Barnes and Eleven, it’s only natural to wonder if Barnes developed his killer instinct and physical abilities at the same place Eleven learned how to destroy other-worldly creatures.
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