After only a week at the box office, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum has already surpassed the earnings of the first film’s entire theatrical run. It was also the first film to dethrone Avengers: Endgame for the #1 weekend rank after almost a month. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when it was announced Keanu Reeves would soon be returning for a fourth chapter in 2021.
But John Wick 4 may now need to watch its back because Taika Waititi’s live-action Akira movie has just nabbed the same release date for May 21, 2021. The long-awaited manga adaptation helmed by the Thor: Ragnarok director could certainly be hefty competition for the assassin, considering how beloved Katsuhiro Otomo’s cyberpunk series is to fans.
Taika Waititi’s upcoming project is a story set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo about a teenage boy named Tetsuo who obtains terrifying and dangerous psychic powers. His childhood friend Kaneda must rise up with his bike gang to stop his threats to the world. It was previously adapted into an anime film in 1988, which had a huge influence on the genre’s appeal to American culture.
Since Taika Waititi revitalized the Thor franchise with Ragnarok in 2017, and has since climbed up among Marvel fans’ favorites in the MCU (CinemaBlend readers ranked it #5), there will be high anticipation regarding this project. The director has said the film had a huge impact on his own life, but he will be drawing heavily from the source material for his version of Akira.
While many Hollywood manga adaptations have gained flack for white-washing their characters, Taika Waititi has said he will be aiming to hire Asian actors in the roles -- likely unknown untapped young talents. Marco Ramirez -- who has penned episodes for Sons of Anarchy, Daredevil, The Defenders, and The Twilight Zone reboot -- is reportedly writing the script, with Leonardo DiCaprio as a producer.
Taika Waititi has been attached to the project for two years, though he’s been busy working on his dramady Jojo Rabbit, coming in October and on the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Now with his schedule clearing up a bit, he’ll need to make room for Akira to get ready for its release two years from now.
Warner Bros has been trying to make a live-action Akira for over a decade, once with Garrett Hedlund attached to a version back in 2012 before it was dropped. Considering the film now has a release date and a promising director attached, the film looks to be moving swiftly forward toward that 2021 release date next to John Wick 4.