John Wick was one of 2014’s most pleasant cinematic surprises: a simple yet effective, no holds barred, exhilarating action-thriller with a central character audiences could easily relate to and were immediately rooting for. As such, it was hardly a surprise when John Wick: Chapter Two was announced – and there is considerably more buzz and anticipation for the sequel’s release, due to the strong following built up by the success of the first film.
Although John Wick‘s plot was a straight-forward one, it effectively constructed a believable and intriguing fictional universe – particularly with regards to the shady guild of assassins Wick is trying to desperately escape from – and told a tight story without ever distracting from the intense action. As anyone who saw the original movie can attest, there seemed to be an abundance of tales to tell beneath the film’s surface. For related reasons, even before the sequel’s release, rumblings of a third installment have begun.
In an interview with /Film, John Wick‘s co-director, Chad Stahelski, confirmed that a prequel TV series – one that would explore John’s background prior to the first movie – is also being discussed. The director claims:
“We basically almost have a prequel written but we’d save that for other aspects of the property. Lionsgate is very interested in doing a John Wick TV show, and that seems very appealing to us, to give those creative ideas to that entity, because I think in TV you could really expand on what that is and greater than we could in just a two-hour film. We’d like to wrap up the story we’re telling now and maybe save all our prequel ideas and impossible task ideas for that medium.”
Stahelski’s comments will likely be music to ears of fans of the original John Wick movie and it’s also reassuring to hear that the idea of John Wick: Chapter Two being a prequel were scrapped – something else Chad confirmed in the same conversation. Currently, fans are keen to see the continuation of John’s story, having invested to heavily in his character the first time around – and while there is certainly an interest in seeing more about the ex-assassin’s past and his time in the guild, a direct sequel is more likely to satisfy the fanbase.
With this news, parallels can be drawn between John Wick and another recent, popular action franchise: Taken. After a trilogy of movies, Taken is heading to television in the form of a prequel series which promises to explore its protagonist’s days as a CIA agent and possibly the reasons he keeps losing his daughter. Of course, the Taken franchise suffered greatly from diminishing returns and both sequels were met with a far less enthusiastic response than the first movie. If John Wick is destined for the same ‘multi-movie plus TV show’ format, it will need to be aware of the same pitfalls. After all, part of the reason for the first movie’s success was its straight-forward plot and mysterious lead character – and digging too deep into what makes John tick might just remove some of his enigmatic aura.
On the other hand, the John Wick story arguably has more potential for expansion than Taken ever did both in terms of concept and backstory. There’s only so many times a member of one family can be kidnapped before audiences begin to lose interest, whereas John Wick‘s struggle to leave his old job behind him – and the many potential characters who would wish to prevent that – lend themselves far better to multiple stories. Furthermore, Taken‘s Bryan Mills has a CIA background and this set-up has been heavily milked by a bevy TV shows, whereas the guild of assassins that forms the basis of John Wick’s backstory is far more exciting and is a less visited idea on the small screen.