The legend of the Baba Yaga began in 2014, when audiences around the world were first introduced to all-time great assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves).
When we meet our hero, he’s living a quiet life with his wife, Helen, until she dies of a mysterious illness. As we learn shortly after, there is no rest for the wicked — the dog Helen left him as consolation is killed by the son of the Tarasov mob, which he used to serve as a hitman. This canine killing ends Wick’s retirement and sets off a cataclysmic chain of events that has now carried four movies.
Ultimately, Wick’s origin is unknown. He grew up a Belarusian orphan named Jardani Jovanovich and was taken in and mentored by a family friend. Eventually, the Ruska Roma recruited him as a hitman, but many years between that even and his childhood remain unaccounted for, which leaves audiences to wonder: Did John Wick serve in the U.S. military?
In the first film, a showering Wick is seen sporting a tattoo across his back that says “Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat” (“fortune favors the bold”), a motto adopted, albeit with a different spelling, by the infantry Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
The ink has led to all manner of fan theories on Reddit and Wiki discussion boards about Wick’s origins. And we can understand why. Wick has the trigger discipline typically associated with a seasoned Special Forces veteran.
Still, no one has ever officially addressed the rumor of his military service. And unfortunately, it’s unlikely we’ll ever find out.
According to “John Wick: Chapter 4″ stunt coordinator Stephen Dunlevy, the mystery of Wick’s past is part of the allure.
“Maybe more will be revealed later on,” he joked with Military Times.
But it’s unlikely.
“I think answering questions of Wick’s background kind of spoils it,” Dunlevy said. “It’s part of the beauty of John Wick and the character John Wick is not knowing exactly what or where, or how. To know exactly what his background was, I think would be to ruin it.”
“John Wick: Chapter 4″ hits theaters March 24.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.