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Three films create the John Wick universe and franchise: John Wick (2014), John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017), and John Wick: Chapter 3, Parabellum (2019). A fourth film is scheduled to be released in March 2023. All are wildly popular, and all are criticized for violence, particularly gun violence. I argue, however, that by examining the visual references that appear in all the films, it becomes clear that the films are defending themselves from such attacks through their allusions to ancient and classical epics from around the world. As Wick battles his way through museums and beautiful cities, the film reminds us that art, all art—fine and popular--relies on violence. Wick follows many of the traditions of the epic hero, and in the end, thanks to the visual cues in the films, he is no different than Achilles or Hector or even High Noon’s Will Kane. And if there is a hero, and if there is art, there will be blood.





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