A look at the most ultimate bad guys to go up against the great John Wick.

We all know John Wick himself is a legend, but to get to that point, Mr. Wick has had to fight his way through countless opponents. Today, we are focusing on all of the “shadows” killed by the Baba Yaga: the many henchmen that Wick met on his way to the top of the High Table. Who posed the biggest threat? And who had the biggest impact on fans’ minds? Let’s find out here.

(Dis)honorable mentions:

The Wick saga is full of colourful villains, and some fall just short of the top five, but still deserve special praise. Among them are one scene wonder Ernest (Boban Marjanović), a tall assassin from the third film who loves Dante, and Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), a ruthless killer who doesn’t hesitate to attack John on Continental grounds – and pays the price for it. Another memorable henchman is Chapter 4’s Chidi (Marko Zaror), a bad guy who learns the hard way that you definitely shouldn’t attack dogs in the Wick saga.

5) The Shinobi – John Wick: Parabellum (2019)

Who needs a name when you have some of the best Indonesian martial artists? Who needs a backstory when you have Pencak Silat? The Indonesian students of Japanese master Zero are a lethal duo. On screen, Cecep Arif Rahman and Yayan Ruhian (both seen in the famous The Raid duology) make formidable opponents to Wick, and their fight scene is tense, believable and enjoyable all at once. Let’s be honest, the Shinobi’s small part doesn’t leave much time for character development, but the respect they have for the Baba Yaga helps to flesh them out – and earns them John’s mercy. In an ideal world, they’ll stick around for upcoming spin-off Ballerina!

4) Ares – John Wick: 2 (2017)

A woman of a no words and only a few signs, Ares (Ruby Rose) is a consistent menace for John, following him around for most of the second film. While we get to see that she is quite handy with a dagger and considers herself as Wick’s equal, he gets the upper hand very easily during their climatic fight. Ares offers an excellent counterpart to the Shinobi: she has little honour and merely wants to best the one she sees as a living legend. Her tense relationship with John says a lot about both characters. Although Ares was no match for the Baba Yaga, she still remains a memorable killer!

3) Zero – John Wick: Parabellum (2019)

Yes, Wick is a legend, and his admirers are plentiful: among them is chief assassin Zero (Mark Dacascos), Parabellum’s best antagonist: when he isn’t happily cooking fish in his sushi restaurant, Zero is fighting his way through anything – and anyone – that stands between him and John Wick. Mark Dacascos manages to create a standout character in a saga already full of colourful antagonists: Zero goes from happily chatting about cats and professing his admiration for Wick to coolly dispatching his enemies in just a few seconds. A good character is one which has more to them than meets the eye, and with his fun-loving personality, Zero definitely fits the bill.

2) Killa – John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

Reaching the top of the villainy scale is no mean feat, but Killa Harkan (Scott Adkins) isn’t anyone: he unceremoniously offed the leader of the Ruska Roma, Wick’s original crime family, and shows very little respect for his enemies. In an era where anti-villains are getting more and more common, and many antagonists have good justifications for their bad deeds, Killa is a refreshing breath of sour air. It’s always nice to see a truly nasty bad guy who pokes fun at all of his opponents! Killa’s nightclub fight against John also has an excellent choreography – and sees the maniacally laughing bad guy meet a suitably gruesome end.

1) Caine  – John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

The mere inclusion of Donnie Yen in a John Wick movie sounded like good news, but his character, Caine, exceeded expectations: Caine is one of the franchise’s most memorable and complex antagonists – from a screenwriting perspective, he’s even more interesting than Chapter 4s Big Bad, the Marquis. Caine is an assassin who keeps serving the High Table to avoid them taking the life of his beloved daughter like they took his sight. His blindness is never portrayed in a pitiful way: Caine is simply a highly skilled killer who happens to be blind, and he makes the most of his unique hearing abilities. Of course, his love for his daughter makes him an interesting counterpart to his former friend John Wick, and he is a slightly more profound antagonist than most others in the saga. Forced out of retirement by stronger powers, Caine is essentially another Wick, and the best henchman in a franchise focused on duty, vengeance and honour.