The John Wick series might be one of the most unexpected film franchises around. It all started with a relatively small action film starring Keanu Reeves as an unstoppable assassin pulled back into a dangerous world. Reeves' intensity and the amazing action sequences have helped push the series beyond its small beginnings with two acclaimed sequels that keep getting bigger and better.
With another film on the way, rumored spin-off and no signs of slowing down, the franchise promises to keep growing. But there's already so much to unpack with the series so far from the fun nods to the behind the scenes mayhem. Here are some of the hidden details in the John Wick films.
10 Older John Wick
As we are introduced to John Wick in the first film, we learn that he is a legendary assassin with years of experience in this deadly line of work. Perhaps it's not surprising then that the character was written to be much older.
The original idea of the character was a man in his sixties going on this mission of revenge. It's easy to see Liam Neeson popping up in such a role. However, the producers luckily decided Keanu Reeves' ageless appearance yet veteran status in the industry worked perfectly.
9 The Directors
Part of what makes the stunt sequences and fight scenes in the John Wick movies so amazing are the directors, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. These two started out in Hollywood in the stunt business. They know how hard stunt performers work and shoot long takes to show off their skills.
Stahelski was also the stunt-double for Neo in The Matrix which could explain his excellent working relationship with Keanu. While Leitch has gone off to direct films big films like Deadpool 2 and Hobbs and Shaw, Stahelski has stuck to the franchise, directing all three installments.
8 Michael Nyqvist's Injury
As with any action movie, the occasional injury does occur in the John Wick films. However, one particular injury was much more serious than most. Actor Michael Nyqvist played bad guy Viggo in the first film. During a fight scene, Nyqvist was hit in a way that reportedly split his skull.
By the actor's own gruesome description, his head was a bloody mess and he was rushed to the hospital. The injury was thankfully not life-threatening but did require eight stitches. Sadly, the film was Nyqvist's last as he died in 2017 of lung cancer.
7 Greek And Roman Mythology
Part of the fun of the John Wick movies is the complex mythology they weave. With each new film, we learn more about the fascinating world of The Continental, the High Table and more. But the movies themselves seem to draw some inspiration from more classical mythology.
Several of the characters in the film are named after figures of Greek and Roman lore. Charon (Lance Reddick), Ares (Ruby Rose), Cassian (Common), Julius (Franco Nero) and others fall into this category, sometimes mirroring their ancient counterparts.
6 Baba Yaga
Even before we saw John in action, his reputation proceeds him. Despite operating in a world of killers, these violent people are very much afraid of what he's capable of. In a memorable sequence, Viggo tells a story of the Baba Yaga, a boogeyman-like being and describes John as the one you send to kill the boogeyman.
Baba Yaga is a real figure of Slavic lore, although very different than how it is described here. Baba Yaga is a witch who has chicken legs, and while she is a trickster, she is generally seen as a kind-hearted figure.
5 Pencil Kill
The way characters talk about John Wick is almost more intimidating than actually seeing him in action. While he is a force to be reckoned with when he is angry, but the descriptions of him are almost supernatural. In the first film, we are repeatedly told about how John once killed a man with only a pencil.
While it's fun to let your imagination run with how he managed to achieve that, the mystery is answered in the second film. In one sequence in which John is being constantly attacked, he does indeed take a foe out with a pencil and in gruesome fashion.
4 Mark Dacascos
Mark Dacascos is introduced in John Wick: Chapter 3 as Zero, a formidable assassin hired to kill John. Dacascos is a great addition to the movie, bringing a bit of humor to the role along with his very impressive martial arts skills which he has displayed in other films. But some fans might recognize him from somewhere else.
When we are introduced to Zero, he is working as a chef at a sushi stand. This could be a nod to Decascos' role as The Chairman in the hit cooking reality show, Iron Chef.
While there are a number of action and noir films that helped inspire the John Wick series, one classic, in particular, helped influence the distinct world it takes place in. Though Casablanca and John Wick might seem like very different movies, the filmmakers cite it as a key inspiration.
The idea of the Continental came from Rick's Café in Casablanca as it was the one place people could go to escape the danger outside. As a tribute to that influential film, John actually travels to Casablanca in the third film.
2 Final Farewell
John Wick has dispatched a lot of enemies over the course of these three films and you can expect there will be plenty more to come as the franchise continues. But interestingly, when John finally defeats the final foe in each film, they all give him a similar farewell.
In the first film, John finally kills Viggo, the last of his enemies and Viggo says "Be seeing you, John." This same phrase is mentioned as Ares dies in John Wick 2. Finally, in John Wick 3, Zero tells John that he'll catch up with him shortly before John replies "No, you won't".
1 Keanu Is King
A lot has been said about Keanu Reeves' amazing work in the John Wick series. The videos of his intense and amazing training are impressive enough, but that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his commitment.
Because of the rushed schedule during the first film, Reeves had to learn each fight sequence step-by-step right before filming. In the amazing night club sequence in the first film, Reeves was sick with the flu and running a high temperature, yet still nailed it. No wonder he's become everyone's favorite.