Thanks to John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, we finally know more about John Wick's origin, and even what his real name is. The action-heavy franchise that revived Keanu Reeves' career in many ways is back in theaters with another installment, and while the action is top notch as usual, the third entry in the John Wick franchise also spends plenty of time exploring the larger assassin world.
This is especially true when it comes to John Wick, who has previously been a very mysterious hitman as far as audiences can tell, but a legend in this universe to many. The first film only explained that John used to be a prolific assassin working for The Continental who jumps back into this lifestyle after his dog is killed. John Wick teased more of a history for The Boogeyman through his back tattoo which reads "Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat" in Latin. This phrase, translated to say "Fortune Favors the Bold," is a motto of the Marine Corps. and many assumed that John was a military man before his days as an assassin. However, he leaves the assassin lifestyle behind by completing an impossible task for Viggo Tarasov, allowing him to become happily married for a few years.
When John Wick: Chapter 2 hit theaters in 2017, some more clues of John's past came in regards to that task. We learned that John actually received some level of help in this situation from Santino D'Antonio, which gave him a marker that he could use at his will to make John return the favor. The blood oath was reluctantly fulfilled by John and eventually results in him murdering Santino on Continental grounds, making John excommunicado and the biggest target in New York. That is where John Wick: Chapter 3 picks up, and after some heart-racing action, it dives deep into John's past and reveals some surprising things along the way.
John Wick's Real Name Is [...]
After John is able to fend off a few dozen assassins, he sets his plan to leave New York and escape with the hope of meeting the one man who is above The High Table so that he can be pardoned and continue to live. This plan takes John to a new location filled with new characters for the franchise, but all of this is familiar for John. It is during these scenes that a major revelation comes to audiences, as John proclaims that his real name is Jardani Jovonovich.
He says this in an effort to prove that he is worthy of being helped by the mysterious new group. Jardani means John in Romani, and since John reverts to calling himself this during the exchange, it appears that Jardani Jovonovich is his actual birth name. This would then indicate that he was Jardani as a child, but then changed his name to John Wick to embrace his assassin lifestyle. But, it also means that his new name isn't just random, but rather derived from his original one, where his last name of Wick is pulled from the end of Jovonovich.
John only goes back to his old name though because he is speaking to The Director, director of a new character for the series played by Anjelica Huston and head of the Ruska Roma where John grew up. She is another high ranking figure within this assassin underworld someone who works with the High Table, but is still below their laws and rules. Because of this, The Director shouldn't even be speaking to John based on his excommunicado status, but there is an implied long history between them that makes her go against her better judgement and help John.
This decision comes back to hurt her, as an Adjudicator from the High Table pays her a visit with a band of assassins. The Director is ordered to stick her hands out together and the Adjudicator orders a sword to go through them both, leaving her with a permanent reminder of the cost of helping John and betraying the High Table.
The Director appears to be a vital part of the High Table's operation too, as she is in charge of a school that develops and trains young assassins. The front for the Ruska Roma's operation is a ballet studio and performance center, but the students are being taught much more than just how to dance. The boy students are shown training in combat, while the girls are shown perfecting their dance routines. However, the first scene at the school features one female dancer with bruises on her body (likely from the combat training), while a later scene includes male dancers too, so all of the attendees are receiving the same level of training.
This school is more important to the John Wick universe beyond its role in the overall system though, as it also appears to be where John Wick received his training. All of the students have the same cross tattoo on their backs as John is shown to have on multiple occasions, and this further explains why he knows of the location and has a connection to The Director. This wasn't just a place for John to go to get away, but may very well be how he got his started on this path to begin with.
The Key/Ticket Cross
With this history to The Director and her school of assassins, that further explains the cross necklace that John uses as the explanation for why he deserves their help, It is the latest important artifact to come from the John Wick universe. As an orphan and last member of his tribe, John carries an Orthodox crucifix and rosary, representing a debt owed to him by The Director.
The cross is John's ticket to escape New York and secure safe passage from The Director's forces all the way to Casablanca. This ticket only has a one time use though, as the acceptance of the cross by The Director then sees the ticket punched (in a sense) by the cross being put in fire and then branded upside down in the center of the cross tattoo on John's back, signifying that it has been used. The commonality of the cross tattoos with assassins at the school may further indicate that this is all part of this particular school's training and graduation.
These new details on John Wick's backstory ultimately leave fans with much more knowledge about Baba Yaga and his journey to become the man he is today. When it is all pieced together, John appears to have been trained as an assassin from a young age, possibly became a Marine (if the back tattoo is more than just symbolic), returned to the assassin world, left it to get married, and is now once again entrenched in this lifestyle. This all comes from three films worth of exploring the character, and with the ending teasing more adventures could come, new films could reveal even more about John Wick's past.