John Wick: Chapter 2 marks the return of a phenomenon that’s the film industry’s equivalent of a rare Pokémon: a successful new action franchise based on an original idea. Indeed, 2014’s John Wick, starring a disregarded former A-lister in Keanu Reeves, managed to give the industry a rare surprise, manifesting as a slick, inventive, emotionally-powerful, yet simple story of a legendary hitman’s quest for vengeance. However, the director and screenwriter have more stories to tell about the titular character’s tortured past and studio Lionsgate are allegedly interested in using those ideas for a television show.
In a press event for John Wick: Chapter 2, director Chad Stahelski and screenwriter Derek Kolstad – the team who conceived the original film, sans co-director David Leitch – answered a question from Slashfilm, candidly revealing the overflow of story ideas going back to the original film concerning the past of Keanu Reeves’s revenge-seeking reformed hitman John Wick. While even a prospectively successful box-office run for the sequel would not likely justify the production of a prequel film, Lionsgate apparently do see dollar signs in adapting those extra ideas on the small screen. According to Stahelski and Kolstad:
“Well, we’re not doing a prequel [with Chapter 2]. We wanted to, it just didn’t fit quite where we’re at….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.”
The original John Wick begins with John – a seemingly normal man – mourning the death of his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan), who influenced him to leave behind a violent past to walk the straight and narrow, left with the film’s famously-ill-fated puppy. After the random act of hubris that saw the beloved, posthumously gifted pet get killed, the narrative begins to drip about the protagonist’s crimson-colored past as a mythical, Boogeyman-like hitman as his quest for violent reciprocity commences.
Consequently, John’s past contains a potent treasure trove of movie-influenced storylines set during the height of his wetwork such as his involvement with the assassins-serving Continental Hotel and its proprietor Winston (Ian McShane), a dangerous fling with killer colleague Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), all leading to a potentially Shakespearean romance with the straight-laced Helen. Said romance was only achievable with the prize of a safe retirement earned after John tackled the “impossible” task of eliminating every competitor of his Russian gangster employer (and would-be enemy) Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist).
It will be interesting to see how a John Wick prequel series would be handled, especially since the idea will likely be tied to the performance of John Wick: Chapter 2. Could Keanu Reeves and the rest of the franchise cast be wrangled in to reprise their roles on the small screen? Would they look for younger actors to fulfill the prequel parts? Would this show be a bingeable streaming event or a weekly broadcast series? Regardless, it’s safe to say that fans are amenable to a small screen idea.
John Wick: Chapter 2 gets ready to concoct yet another unwelcome interruption to the retirement of the world’s most deadly assassin when the film hits theaters on February 10.