By Derek Lawrence
April 03, 2019 at 10:55 AM EDT

Forget the Justice League, Gal Gadot will always be part of a more powerful family.

Every Fast & Furious film has its thing. The Fast and the Furious is the start of it all; 2 Fast 2 Furious is the forgotten gem; Tokyo Drift is the one that’s better than you remember; Fast Five is the greatest movie ever made; Fast & Furious 6 is when Dwayne Johnson officially became part of the gang; Furious 7 is a tearjerker; The Fate of the Furious is the end of an era. But what about the fourth installment, 2009’s Fast & Furious? (Yes, it’s very confusing that the film and series are styled the same way.) Well, the film with the worst Rotten Tomatoes score of the franchise is actually the most important one of them all.

There’s a long list of reasons for why Fast 4, which turns 10 on Wednesday, is so crucial to this pop culture juggernaut. It’s may be hard to believe now but the Fast & Furious franchise was on the verge of death before this ride. Vin Diesel sat out 2 Fast, and then Tokyo Drift was completely independent from the first two films until Diesel made a brief cameo in the final scene (and he only did so to acquire the rights of Riddick). And yet, somehow, three years later, Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster were all back together — and even more surprising is the box office powerhouse that the series would soon become.

In addition to the return of the OGs, Fast & Furious also gave us the resurrection of Han (Sung Kang), the resulting jump backwards in time to include Han, the presumed death of Letty (Rodriguez), and, maybe most importantly, the introduction of Gisele to the Fast world and the introduction of Gal Gadot to the world.

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Fast & Furious marked the big screen debut and first American acting credit for Gadot, a former model, Miss Israel, and member of the Israel Defense Forces. That same year, she appeared in an episode of Entourage, with creator Doug Ellin recently telling EW, “I remember when Gal came in, it was a small little role but everyone said, ‘This girl is gonna be something big.'” And Fast fans had the same feeling when Gisele first appeared, jumping off the screen before she even said a word.

Admittedly, Gadot isn’t given much to do in Fast 4, and actually, while she gets more in subsequent films, both her and Sung Kang specialize in doing a lot with a little. Introduced as a lieutenant for bad guy Arturo Braga, Gisele is immediately more interesting as a romantic pursuer of Dom, with Gadot managing to have great flirtatious chemistry with Diesel. This could have easily been just a one-off for the actress and character, but Gisele providing help for Dom and Brian to catch Braga opened the door for her to get the call in Fast Five, a.k.a. the greatest movie ever made (I’m going to keep mentioning it).

This is when the series basically turned into a mix of superhero movie and heist movie, and every heist movie needs an assembling the team montage, and Fast Five more than delivers on that end. Gisele is saved for last, with Dom saying they need “someone who ain’t afraid to throw down. Someone to back up every position.” She lives up to that when meeting Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese), Leo (Tego Calderon), Santos (Don Omar), and Han for the first time. After Roman attempts to hit on her and asks what time her legs open (lame pick up line), she takes out her gun and says, “They open the same time I pull this trigger. Want me to open them?” That manages to do the impossible: Shut up Roman. But the most important moment from this scene is the very brief dialogue between Gisele and Han. While Diesel and Gadot had a promising dynamic in Fast 4, he will now be paired with Elsa Pataky in Fast Five, which is a blessing in disguise since Gadot and Kang instantly become a fan favorite pairing.

The chemistry gets its first spotlight when Gisele volunteers to go with Han to capture Reyes’ handprint. They kill some recon time by perfectly reading each other, before Han is ready to give up, saying they need more guys. “Or you don’t send a man to do a woman’s job,” she declares, dropping her cover and strutting her way right up to Reyes. Yes, it’s a beautiful woman in a bikini scene, but it’s more about how beautiful and badass Gisele is, while rightfully hypnotizing Han.

Fast Five ends with Gisele in Han’s lap as they speed through Europe. She suggests Tokyo as the next destination, while he says they will get there, eventually. Well, see that’s the thing, we know he has to make it to Tokyo, because that’s where he dies — alone. But early in Fast 6, that is where we find them both, talking about settling down, until the cops arrive and they pull their guns and stand back-to-back like a badass power couple.

Then, when it seems like the team has emerged victorious, Gisele talks about settling down for good in Tokyo. Unfortunately, she will never make it there. The film’s climactic scene finds the crew trying to stop a cargo plane from taking off on the longest runway in history. “This is who we are,” declares Gisele in her soon-to-be last words. As her and Han’s car connected to both the plane and a bad guy’s car, she’s falling, with Han grabbing her and saying he’s got her. But she lets go in order to save Han’s life, shooting the bad guy on the way to her death. Would Diana do that for Steve?

This emotional goodbye hit hard, even if it was inevitable, sending Han off to Tokyo and his own death, and Gadot off to the Amazons to become Wonder Woman. Shortly after Fast 6, Gadot would sign on to play the superhero, but family always makes time for each other, so she returned from the grave for a flashback in Furious 7, which didn’t make the final cut. But in a world where deaths don’t stick (see Letty and Han), here’s to hoping we haven’t seen the last of Gadot in Fast & Furious. Hey, Diesel says some female-led spin-offs are coming, so let’s hope that Gisele prequel we’ve been asking for becomes a reality.

But, in the meantime, as Dom would say, the most important thing in life will always be the people in these movies. Right here, right now. Salud, mi familia — but especially Gisele.

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