John Wick - What Baba Yaga Really Means

John Wick – What Baba Yaga Really Means

First and foremost, before we begin, We want to give out the SPOILER Alert disclaimer! If you haven’t seen John Wick at this point, do so first before returning to this article.

So, now that that’s out of our way let’s get started!

When the leader of a crime family needs to take a drink to clarify who you just screwed with — and the reason why you should be pooping bricks in your underwear — you know you’re screwed. John Wick is the type of person who will incite such heinous behavior. You would do the same if the phrases babayaga along with John Wick were spoken in the same sentence if you knew what “baba yaga” meant.

But, because this is Hollywood, the home of creative license, does the Russian folklore character represent and what it implies in “John Wick”?

A Little Backstory About John Wick

John Wick is a retired mercenary who has resolved to put his “murderous ways” behind him and settle down. He fell in love and then married a lovely woman. Tragically for Baba Yaga John Wick, his wife succumbed to cancer, leaving him with only memories of their time together and a puppy.

A gang of criminals determined to annoy John. They took his car and killed his dog. When you combine that with his wife’s recent death, you get the makings of one of the greatest high-paced action flicks of the decade.

Now, John Wick is compelled to return to his “old ways” in order to exact revenge for his dog (and perhaps recover his stolen car?).

The Lore of Baba Yaga

The Lore of Baba Yaga

What does Baba Yaga mean? Baba Yaga is a well-known character from Slavic folklore. She is shown as an elderly woman who resides in a house built of chicken legs. She is portrayed as malicious in certain Slavic stories but as a helpful figure in others.

In the Baba Yaga story, She is frequently used to terrify Slavic children into appropriate behavior. John Wick Baba Yaga abducts misbehaving children, never to be reencountered. 

Baba Yaga in the John Wick Movie

In the film, John Wick nickname is Baba Yaga, his assassin identity. Why is this the case? The film provides us with a brief explanation that I, as a Slavic, have a few issues with. 

He’s known as Baba Yaga since he typically appears at night. His assassin talents are legendary, making John Wick a mythical being like Baba Yaga. That’s all there is to it.

To summarize, John Wick is known as Baba Yaga, given that he hunts his prey at night, plus he is so skilled at it that he is regarded as a mythological creature. 

Finally, for this section of the article, Baba Yaga has been translated as a boogeyman in the film (which is an issue in and of itself, but we’ll get there). 

Did They Get It Wrong?

Baba is a Russian word that signifies grandmother, granny, or an older woman (notice where we’re headed with this?). John Wick is far from an elderly woman. 

The “Yaga” part is far more challenging to describe. You may think of it as the name of the “baba,” making the Russian translation sound like an old woman dubbed Yaga. 

Baba Yaga can also indicate an ancient witch if you want to leave room for interpretation. Do you recognize the issue now? An old witch does not look in any way, shape, or form comparable to a boogeyman (the film’s translation for Baba Yaga).

Derek Kolstad, the scriptwriter, had a few words to say about it, but none of them came close to acknowledging his error. We understand that billions of dollars are at stake. 

But that is why we are here, to explain his error and why he committed it. And it all begins with the abaya, a mythical being from Russian legend.

Before We begin discussing Babayka, We should point out that for those who are not of Slavic descent, the distinction in spelling between Babayka and Baba Yaga is challenging to discern. 

Add the Russian alphabet; you’ve probably worked out why this clear error occurred. 

What or who is Babayka?

What or who is Babayka?

Babayka, also called Babay, is a Slavic folklore spirit of the night (similar to how John Wick is an element of the night, don’t you think?). 

Babyka’s “job” was to kidnap youngsters who were awake. Children that are not sleeping and are not listening to their parents (they do naughty things) metaphorically. And Babayka’s entire mission was to halt and remove disobedient children (which he did at night, much like John).

Babayka does not have a physical form; instead, he assumes the shape of the “worst nightmare” of the person it is following in the night (similar to how John Wick is the most terrifying nightmare of his adversaries, right?).

Babayka, like the bogeyman (the phrase used in the film to represent Baba Yaga), will occasionally hide under the bed to wait for its prey (much like John Wick).

Finally, contrary to Baba Yaga, Babayka is male (as is John Wick). 

To summarize, as someone of Slavic heritage, the errors in the film (as far as John Wick’s nickname Baba Yaga is concerned) were evident. But do these errors make the film less enjoyable? 

The answer is definitely no! The film is a lot of fun to see and has a lot of entertainment value. We are delighted Hollywood dabbled in the area of Slavic folklore (despite the fact that they got a number of things wrong).

What Should John Wick Be Called in Russian?

John Wick could be called “baby,” “Babai,” or “babka,” all of which originate in Russian for “boogeyman.” But that’s not the boogeyman — simply a Boogeyman in Russian is someone who usually hangs out in the streets and makes noise if certain kids aren’t sleeping. In other stories, the Russian Boogeyman enters households and kidnaps children.

There are various forms of Baba Yaga Boogeyman in Russian folklore. The leshij is a forest spirit who has the appearance of an older man; the domovoi is a benevolent ghost who looks like a small man who lives in houses; and the Porsche is a wicked sorcerer who appears like a skinny guy.

Anyone who has seen “John Wick” multiple times knows that the hitman extraordinaire is not an old man, nor is he small and underweight. John Wick’s tattoo says he is not a John Wick Boogeyman satisfied with lurking in forests or hiding in other people’s homes.

Despite the fact that John’s execution of Viggo Tarasov’s son, Iosef, would be equivalent to what some babies would do. It could also be similar to how specific baba yaga stories depict a witch taking away obstinate children. That could be a further explanation for the film’s use (misuse) of the phrase.

The Bottom Line

Keanu Reeves’ performance of John Wick is terrific in so many ways. From the way, he kills a slew of Russian bandits to the melancholy flashbacks about his late wife (Keanu is excellent in this film).

Following “Gladiator,” John Wick is unquestionably the best film for a “boys’ night out.” The action is present. There are amazing stunts and a little piece of a plot (but it’s not a lot, so don’t worry).

Whether you call him a Russian boogeyman or a witch, John Wick is going to give you the creeps. Because you are aware, there will be blood when he arrives, all calm and dressed up in a perfectly fitted suit.

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Sarah is a writer by profession and passion. She is a real tech-savvy who loves everything tech! Talk about the latest tech releases, latest news from the tech world, on-trend tech gadgets, or simple tech hacks – Sarah knows it all! Being a movie enthusiast, she always has a close eye on the latest releases. Her insights about how well the movie will do on the box offices are surprisingly always correct! We call her the “Encyclopaedia of Movies”.