by Jeffrey

When the xXx franchise waded into a widely panned 2005 sequel that prominently lacked Vin Diesel, it seemed to have burned out for good. Noting the seemingly endless enthusiasm for The Fast and the Furious franchise, however, the directors decided to make xXx into a trilogy hoping Vin's return would make the third time the charm. Physics, logic, character death and likelihood be damned: Vin Diesel was going to get another chance to blow up the screen (and the pyrotechnics budget) in 2017's xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Think you know everything there is to know about the xXx franchise? Even some of the biggest fans don't know these 6 Huge Secrets About xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
Not Vin? Say it Ain’t So!

As with most iconic roles, Xander Cage wasn't always reserved for Vin Diesel. Originally, for the role of Xander, producers reached out to Eric Bana who is known for his stints in Black Hawk Down and the 2009 Star Trek reboot. But the series would definitely not have the same feel without Vin's stoic quips and baldhead. 

Inked? Guess Again!

For as natural as tattoos look on his characters, you'd think that Vin Diesel is no stranger at the tattoo parlor. In reality, he doesn't have a single piece of ink on his body! Xander Cage's tattoos are all applied by makeup artists, and Vin even has a say in what appears on his body: the name emblazoned across Xander's lower stomach - Melkor - is actually a nod to Diesel's Dungeons and Dragons character. Angel wings and eyes across his back are also thought to be a tribute to the late Paul Walker, his friend and The Fast and the Furious co-star. 

Back from the Dead

When the franchise's 2005 sequel failed to stir up the interest the producers were hoping for, the writers had to do a little backpedalling. Xander had died in State of the Union, so it was explained as a self-imposed hiatus on the part of the character, who returned to once again punish the bad guys. 

Vin Diesel Returned Because of Paul Walker

It's no secret that Vin took Paul's unexpected car-crash death hard: the two were fast friends. Vin is not only the godfather of Walker's daughter, he also named his youngest daughter Pauline in honour of his late co-star. Vin explained that he stepped back into Xander's shoes because he needed to spend time in a role that didn't immediately remind him of his friend's loss. 

Jet Li Out, Donnie Yen In

While the reasons behind his sudden departure are still a mystery, Jet Li's absence left producers worried they'd lose another connection with fans over the loss of a familiar character. Thankfully, Donnie Yen was willing to take up the mantle of Xiang, fresh off his stratospheric success in Star Wars: Rogue One


Fans Went Nuts for Xander's Return

In only 48 hours, the trailer for xXx: The Return of Xander Cage racked up an incredible 100 million views due in part to Vin Diesel's healthy presence on social media, which he used to live stream the trailer alongside his cast mates.