Welcome to the Heavy Spoilers show! I’m our host Paul, aka the biggest Wickhead on YouTube, and in this video, we’re going to be talking about a number of the big things that we’ve learned about John Wick Chapter 4 since its release.
In this video, we’re going to be talking about the alternate ending that they considered using and also how the cast and crew reacted to Lance Reddick’s passing.
I wanna get straight into it but as we’re talking about the original ending we have to give a spoiler alert up top before we get into it. This scene was shot as an add-on to what we saw at the end, and it may ruin the film if you haven’t checked it out yet. With all that out of the way, a huge thank you for clicking this, now let’s get into John Wick Chapter 4.
John Wick Chapter 4: Ending Explained
Ok, so the movie ends with John taking down the Marquis, but in order to do that, he has to goad him into taking part in the duel itself. In his arrogance, once he sees that John is seemly beaten, he decides to take Caine’s weapon and he goes to shoot Johh. Wick didn’t actually fire during the last shot of the duel, and he uses this opportunity to kill the Marquis and free not only himself but also Caine and his daughter.
However, he’s mortally wounded, and he ends up dying on the steps of the church after uttering his wife’s name, Helen.
Now many people were shocked to see this scene play out as Wick was seen as this invincible and unstoppable terminator that was the very personification of the boogeyman.
Because of this, many people have speculated over the last couple of days that Wick is actually still alive, and there have been a lot of wires getting crossed over whether he’ll return or not. There was a fifth John Wick film greenlit along with four, and thus there’s been talk that they just haven’t announced that so people go with the ending. Wick is also due to appear in the Ana De Armas spinoff The Ballerina, so you can see how rumours can spread.
No, not like Baba Yaga. However, Chad Stahelski has been doing a lot of press over the last couple of days, and he’s discussed an alternate ending they shot and cleared up a lot of things. So originally, Chapter 5 was in the works, and they were going to shoot it back to back with Chapter 4. However he said that they realised they’d rather do one movie they can put their all into instead of making two concurrently. The Ballerina is also set between the events of chapter 3 and 4 so it doesnt really retcon the ending either.
Now as for that ending, when the director and Keanue went to the studio to pitch the idea, they kicked off and said that they were insane for killing off their big cash cow. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Chad said that the crew ended up having to shoot an alternate ending for the film that left John alive.
When discussing it, he said that they initially felt uncertain over whether to do a fourth movie, and they came up with the why, which would ultimately be John’s death. They realised that they’d kind of fallen into a formula with these movies where there were the same sorts of beats, and Chad even said that if he were a fan then he would’ve watched Chapter 3 thinking, How is he going to get out of this? Just give me an ending.’
So Chapter 4 was pitched as something that the franchise hadn’t tackled before which was consequences and a conclusion.
He said that they very much felt like this film should be a goodbye to John, but they wondered how to give a proper one. Thus they came up with the idea that’s laced throughout the movie, which is that a good death only comes after a good life. He said that sums up the movie and that the entire film is about an action-packed thrill ride in which John gets his redemption in the end.
Now Chad went into the test screenings that they did and the times that they showed the alternate ending to audiences.
What Was The Alternate Ending For John Wick Chapter 4
According to the director, the ending was almost identical all the way up to the funeral scene. We even had that play out exactly the same way, however, John’s dog would longingly look over, and from here we’d get confirmation that John was still alive. This is why we had that shot in the movie, as well as Winston and The Bowery King discussing whether he was in heaven or hell. Because they said neither, that also implied that he was still alive and out there somewhere, which is something we pointed out in our breakdown of the movie.
However, the fact that Chad is saying that all these ideas were eventually cut down means that the intention was indeed to kill him. So put away your tin foil hats, John is intended to be dead…but…with it being Hollywood you never know how they’re gonna work stuff in. I’m talking about The Ballerina introducing cloning technology or something.
Now, this ending didn’t go over too well either, and apparently, after the test screening, they realised that it wasn’t a good fit for how they’d made their movie. Everything about it is centred around death, and by bringing John back, it somewhat cheapened the message. They talked about how this film was about him realising that he’d ruined so many of his friends lives and had killed hundreds and hundreds of people in order to avenge his dog. Thus, they wanted to give some finality and consequences to that, so they had him save a friend before his death, which acted somewhat as redemption.
In the end, the studio told them that they could go with whatever ending they felt strongest about. This is what we got in the final cut with John passing away and his death being final… for now.
Anyway, this film is of course filled with death, most notably Charons. Played by Lance Reddick, the actor sadly passed away whilst the creative team were promoting the film, and this has been a tragic conversation topic centred around the film. Lance died just as the film was being sent out to the press for screenings, and Chad talked about what the creative team felt upon learning this. He said that both he and Keanu were massive fans of the actor because of The Wire, and that he was one of the first people they cast after getting Keanu for the role.
He said that when they initially pitched the idea for the first film, it was difficult to get people to show interest because they said it was about a man whose dog was killed and he got revenge. It didn’t really work in pitch meetings, and thus many people turned it down.
However, they said to Lance:
“You’re going to be Charon the gatekeeper. John Wick is going to be like Greek mythology. It’s a fantasy film like Lord of the Rings, but in modern day,” and he instantly got it.
Now cut to Chapter 4, where he says that when they pitched the idea to Lance about his reaction to his death, Chad told the Hollywood Reporter.
“Look, I can’t tell you I love it. I can’t tell you I’m not upset, but I can tell you that I don’t know another way to make this movie this good.”
Chad later went on to talk about how his character’s death is the catalyst in the movie that really kicks things off and is a major driving force for Winston. The Marquis didn’t want to make Winston one, as it would give people a reason to fight. However, in killing Charon, he very much made up for Winston, who aided John throughout the film.
Now, when talking about it, Chad said:
Last Friday, we had literally just gotten off the plane in Toronto, but it seemed to be a very exciting and positive time. All the screenings had been going really well, and we’d been so fortunate to have good responses. So we’d been talking to Lance probably every other day, and we had just seen him during the L.A. We left him with a high five, going, “Catch you later!” And then when we got off the plane, Derek Kolstad, the original writer who’s very close with Lance and his family, called me and said that Lance had passed. We hadn’t even put the bags in the room yet, and I made one call to Keanu. He answered, and I was like, “Hey, man. I gotta come see you in your room.” And he was like, “Sure, come on up.”
So he opened the door, and I was like, “Look, I have some bad news. Lance just passed away.” And after the initial “What the f***?” shock, everything went quiet. And then Keanu looked at me, and we were like, “This is for him.” We only had two or three hours before we had to go on stage in Toronto and do the thing again, but that’s obviously nothing compared to what his family and his close friends are going through. So, for the next hour and a half before our screening, we just told Lance stories, and we realised how lucky we were to have worked with him. It was one of the most fortunate times in my life.
Lance Reddick In John Wick Chapter 4
Now the movie had been sent out to cinemas already, and they said that it’s extremely difficult to recall the DCPs that get sent out to cinemas. However, even before Chad asked Lionsgate to add something to the end, the studio had been hard at work, making calls and getting it out there. They said that not every single screening will have the dedication added at the end, but I saw it on mine, and I know that others did.
Chad did say that by the time it hits streaming and so on, the dedication will be in place, and they can make sure that Lance is remembered for the great man that he is.
And that concludes the video. I hope you enjoyed learning this extra information about the movie, even if a lot of it had to do with tragedy both on and off screen.
Let me know your thoughts below, and hopefully I’ll see you on the next video.
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With that out of the way, thank you for sitting through the video; I’ve been Paul, and I’ll see you next time. Take care. Peace