Are ‘John Wick’ Movies Based on Books or Comics?

After The Matrix franchise, Keanu Reeves found immense success with the John Wick film series. The beloved action hero plays a highly skilled assassin who comes out of retirement when his dog is killed. 

The assassin’s universe widens with each film, exposing more of the hero’s abilities and nemeses. For many, the storylines sound like they were pulled from pages of a graphic novel. But are the John Wick movies based on a book or comic?

Keanu Reeves attends the 'John Wick' press conference in in Seoul, South Korea in 2015
Keanu Reeves attends the ‘John Wick’ press conference in in Seoul, South Korea in 2015 | Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

Is ‘John Wick’ based on a book, comic, or novel?

The first John Wick movie premiered in 2014. And its critical and commercial success led to two sequels — John Wick: Chapter 2 in 2017 and John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum in 2019. 

While all three action films have a superhero feel, they aren’t based on any novel or comic book. The concept was created by screenwriter Derek Kolstad, whose previous movies include One in the Chamber and The Package.

When talking to Flickering Myth in 2014, Kolstad noted that John Wick was the first screenplay he wrote without any imposed limitations. And he revealed that the idea for the movie was his love of revenge stories.

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“Even though I write a ton, I had never written a pure revenge flick,” Kolstad said. “And who doesn’t love a good one? I had seen a couple of disappointing entries, and decided to tackle one myself. Alistair MacLean and Stephen King were huge influences on me growing up. MacLean could build a world, and King could surprise you by what the main character truly was capable of.”

The premise of the first movie — an assassin kills everyone responsible for the murder of his beloved pup — sounds hilarious, but somehow Kolstad makes it work. And he suggested the notion came from his own attachment to his pets. 

“As for the dog, I found myself asking the random question of myself: ‘what would you do if someone did something to Loki or Isis (my two mutts)?’” Kolstad explained. “And the answer? Terrible, terrible things.”

There are ‘John Wick’ comics that are based on the movie

Plenty of popular action films are based on comic books — just look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe’s sprawling list of projects. But the John Wick franchise is the polar opposite. 

Not only is the film an original idea, it also paved the way for a series of comics. In 2017, Dynamite Entertainment released a five-book miniseries based on the John Wick movie. 

The comics were approved by the Derek Kolstad and Keanu Reeves

The John Wick comics were written by Greg Pak and illustrated by Giovanni Valletta and Matt Gaudio. They are a prequel to the first film, and follow the assassin as a young man. In a statement to Dynamite Entertainment, Pak revealed that the comics were approved by Kolstad and Reeves.

“We’ve received the blessings from all of the creators involved with the films, every step of the way. That includes the writer/creator of John Wick Derek Kolstad, as well as Thunder Road, Lionsgate, and even Keanu Reeves. This book is the real deal and people are not going to be disappointed.”

John Wick 4 is currently in production. But reports suggest Kolstad is not attached to the project.