Aside from the impeccably well-dressed, taciturn, dog-loving master assassin who happens to be the titular protagonist, the “John Wick” franchise has an assortment of characters ranging through different shades of black and gray. Part of the intrigue of the overarching narrative of the franchise is expounded by the interaction between these recurring characters, some of whom have proven to be trustworthy allies of John while others have their own ulterior motives. As the fourth installment is about to release worldwide this week, we would like to bring the readers up to date with the characters who will make a return and have played important roles in the universe so far.
Baba Yaga, the Boogeyman, the Emissary of Death, Lo Spettro, The Wolf—our protagonist Jonathan ‘John’ Wick goes by many names, all signifiers of his near-superhuman skills of taking lives, which are verified by his nearly 300 kill count within a few weeks after returning from retirement. John is someone whose reputation precedes him; as a master assassin, he is dreaded even by the dregs of the criminal underworld. And there is good reason to back it up, too, as thorough and dangerous as he can prove to be with or without prep time. The Tarasov brothers recount the tale of John killing three people using a pencil and don’t forget to emphasize his notoriety by mentioning whatever is heard about him has probably been watered down. Expert in armed and unarmed combat, on his best day, John can take down hordes of infantry without breaking a sweat. Actor Keanu Reeves did justice to both the physicality and the acting chops required of the character.
Although not much of his past has been shown in the movies, we know his past life included ties with the Russian criminal organization in New York named Ruska Roma. During his conversation with the chief operative of the organization, known as the Director, John reveals his real name to be Jardani Jovonovich, and the Director later reminds him about his training on the premises of the organization. Later, John produces an escape ticket in the form of a Russian cross and rosary, and all these point toward a significant portion of John’s life having been spent under the Director in Ruska Roma. Later, we also come to know that during his training days, John befriended Marcus, his former mentor. After a while, he started working under Viggo Tarasov, and by the time he retired, he had managed to pull off a job significant enough that it laid the foundation of Viggo’s crime empire.
Despite his hardened, stoic demeanor guarding him against all forms of emotional connections, John is capable of feeling and reciprocating tender feelings. After meeting the love of his life, Helen, John decides to leave the life of crime behind and start a new chapter with his wife. After her untimely death due to a chronic illness, John mourns her alone until a beagle puppy, whom his wife had named Daisy, is presented to him as his wife’s posthumous gift. It is the death of the dog at the hands of Viggo’s son, the pathetic brat Iosef Tarasov, that brings the Baba Yaga out of retirement, as he starts causing carnage from thereon. A loner in his approach to conducting operations, John is extremely loyal to the people close to him, as we see during his interaction with Winston and Charon. As an astute professional, John respects and honors the skills of people of the same vocation and receives respect in return.
Charon The Concierge
Charon, the concierge at the New York branch of the Continental Hotel, is much more than meets the eye. Ever the well-wisher of John, Charon has a sense of respect for John Wick’s reputation, not as a hitman but as a human being. A well-mannered and well-spoken caretaker, Charon is more than capable of handling the safe haven of the underworld, as seen in the climax scene of “John Wick: Chapter 2,” where Charon defends the Continental alongside John. Charon’s loyalty to Winston and the Continental is unquestionable, as he defends both of them while putting his own life at stake. We also saw John entrusting his dog to Charon a couple of times; coincidentally, Charon’s actor, Lance Reddick, is the pet parent of four rescue dogs. Lance Reddick will reprise his role as the ever-faithful attendant for the last time after his shocking demise a few days earlier. Seeing him for the last time in a role he could relate to will be extremely emotional for the audience.
Winston The Manager
Winston is the manager of the New York branch of the Continental Hotel, which has been operating for the last four decades. Winston commands a position of respect even among the notorious criminals, and his chain of command across the city offers him a significant hold. Winston considers John a friend, as it was hinted that both of them had some shared experience in the past. In the trilogy, we see Winston indirectly assisting John by going against the rules of the High Table, something that is not characteristic of him, given how fastidious he usually is with the rules of the High Table. Winston is also aware of the heavy toll it takes to remain entangled in the life of crime forever; hence, he was the first person to suggest John Wick not make re-entry into this life. Winston is also a skilled manipulator, as during the final moments of “John Wick: Chapter One,” he manages to fake John’s death and convinces the Adjudicator to undo the decision to deconsecrate.
The Bowery King, played by Laurence Fishburn, is an interesting character, and his allegiance cannot be completely trusted. Using his network of operatives posing as vagrants and beggars, the Bowery King strengthened his hold over his territory in a unique way. His network also includes using pigeons as messengers, whom he considers a more viable option in the age of digitization. We get to know that in the past, John found the Bowery King a target but decided to spare his life—an incident that activated the Bowery King’s sense of alertness. While not as eager as the aforementioned others to assist John in his quests, the Bowery King knows the advantage of having someone like John Wick by his side. After Adjudicator led Japanese assassin Zero and his pupil laid waste to the entire might of the Bowery King, he sought revenge, and in the final moments of the movie, we saw him and John pairing up against the High Tables.