At one point, there were two different endings to John Wick: Chapter 4. But the conclusion that director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves preferred ultimately ended up in the final theatrical cut.
Major spoilers ahead.
Wick is presumably dead at the end of Chapter 4, as we see Winston and the Bowery King standing over his grave. This comes after Wick has a duel with Caine (portrayed by Donnie Yen) that fatally wounds both assassins.
That said, since Wick dies off screen, there is debate about whether he’s gone for good. And Stahelski admitted to Empire that John Wick: Chapter 4 “had a different ending.” He said: “We shot an ending where you actually saw John Wick at the end of the movie. So it was very clear that he was still alive. The audiences we tested with absolutely preferred the ambiguous ending.”
Stahelski also stated that Wick dying was the starting block for Chapter 4. “And I had just read this treatise on samurai etiquette called Hagakure, the art of the way of dying. And we’re like, ‘Yeah, he’s got to die.’ And we got to come up with the coolest way to make [that] happen. We’ve got to make it all about, ‘you can only [have] a good death if you had a good life.’ That’s the first line we wrote on a napkin in Japan, three years out. We wrote the movie backwards off that one thing.”
This isn’t the first time Stahelski has broken down John Wick 4’s shocking ending. The filmmaker discussed how Lionsgate–the studio behind the franchise–asked him if he was “f**king insane.”
John Wick 5 was confirmed by Lionsgate earlier this year, possibly implying Wick is still alive. But Stahelski isn’t as sure about another film in the franchise, telling Empire, “I honestly don’t know.”
The franchise will continue living on without Wick as the main character, though. Ana De Armas will star in The Ballerina, which is apparently aiming for a June 2024 premiere. Coming even sooner is a Peacock series called The Continental in September. It will focus on a young Winston taking over the New York hotel for assassins.
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