The action movie majesty of the “John Wick” series has always been its main draw, but it’s made even more effective by the mythology behind the titular character. Baba Yaga, the boogeyman, is an assassin so feared by the criminal underworld that even the most heartless crime lords tremble at the mention of his name. In “John Wick,” it was Russian mafia boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) who tells his son that Wick is “the one you send to kill the f***ing boogeyman” and that he once saw Wick “kill three men in a bar with a pencil.” For the sequel, Stahelski and the team needed to remind people why Baba Yaga is so feared. That meant kicking off proceedings with a similar speech, this time delivered by Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare), Viggo’s brother, who repeats the pencil line.
For Keanu Reeves, whose dedication to performing almost all of Wick’s fight scenes and stunts borders on obsessive, he simply had to see that particular aspect of his character’s mythology in action the second time around. He relayed how he was adamant that the pencil had to make it into “John Wick: Chapter 2,” via Page Six: “Chad is so interested in not just action, but the character in the action, and what’s the storytelling. In the second [film], I really fought for getting the pencil fight. It was talked about in the first one and I was like, ‘Guys, we gotta do a pencil fight!'”
With Reeves pushing for some pencil action to make it into the movie, Stahelski went ahead and planned a now-famous sequence in which Wick gruesomely dispatches two assassins with the writing utensil in the entrance to a subway station.