Warning! This article contains major spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 4. If you've yet to watch the movie, turn back now.
John Wick: Chapter 4 essentially does the same as its predecessors: it sees Keanu Reeves' titular assassin take on a mountain of gun-toting goons, who are out to get him and claim the extortionate bounty upon his head. But in its final few moments, the latest installment does something that the three earlier films never dared... it sees John die.
Over the course of the four movies, Wick has been punched, kicked, stabbed, shot, fallen off buildings, been run over, fallen down stairs... and, yet somehow, has always gotten back up again. In Chapter 4, however, the Baba Yaga elects to sacrifice himself to essentially save his old friend Caine (Donnie Yen) and Caine's daughter, whose lives are being threatened by the menacing Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård).
The sequel concludes with Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) visiting John's grave, which suggests the suit-wearing avenger really is gone. Now, though, director Chad Stahelski has revealed that they originally shot two endings, one of which suggested that John was still alive, and let the test audience decide which version made it into the final cut.
"I have a very good relationship with Lionsgate. They're great, they've been very supportive, but I don't think any exec or any producer in the world would smile when you say you're gonna kill off their successful franchise character," the stuntman-turned-filmmaker told Collider. "But, you want to have that confrontation, like, 'Look, this is what's right,' but you've got to see it from their side, too. You know, 'Let me try to execute it the way we are. Let me build the story around it and I'll do you a solid. I'll tell you what, I'll shoot the ending two ways, you know, with one extra little thing, two extra little shots. I'll let you know he's alive, and I'm gonna leave it up to the audience to decide, and we're gonna test both.'
"They were super cool. It was nice to show and get actual feedback, and everyone was very understanding of that, and it was good to come to that conclusion together without having to fight it or force it," Stahelski concluded.
While we may have seen the last of Reeves' John Wick, the franchise isn't about to lay itself to rest anytime soon. There are said to be a bunch of spin-offs in development, including Ballerina, starring Ana de Armas, and The Continental, a TV series about the famous hotels that act as safe havens for the High Table's most deadly.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is in US and UK cinemas now. For more, check out our breakdowns of the John Wick 4 ending, the John Wick 4 post-credits scene, and our list of the most exciting upcoming movies coming our way in 2023 and beyond.