If you have been a human being with an internet connection over the last several weeks, you may have noticed Keanu Reeves is kind of everywhere. From John Wick toppling the Avengers at the box office and a scene-stealing turn as Ali Wong’s lover in Always Be My Maybe, to taking fans’ breaths away at E3, Keanu’s career is hotter than ever. Like a Keannussance, if you will. But why now? I’m going to attempt to retrace each milestone in the timeline of why 2019 is the year of Keanu.
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
January 17, 2019 — The trailer for John Wick Chapter 3 debuts
When the first John Wick movie premiered in October 2014, it was considered a moderate hit. After a three-month run in theaters, it earned a little more than $43 million. Not a massive earner in the grand scheme of things, but it was a tremendous return on investment. Not since the Fast & Furious franchise has an action film series gotten bigger and bigger as it ages. After, John Wick: Chapter 2 doubled its predecessor’s box office in 2017, all eyes were turned to the third chapter. When its trailer dropped in January, John Wick: Chapter 3 instantly became one of the most anticipated movies of 2019.
February 16-19, 2019 — Toy manufacturers unveil John Wick figures at Toy Fair
Speaking of John Wick, Diamond Select Toys unveiled a line of figures and statues based on the movies at this year’s Toy Fair International show in New York. Other popular toy companies like Mezco and MAFEX also announced figures proving once again that John Wick has become one of the biggest brands in all of nerd pop culture.
February 17, 2019 — Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure turns 30 years old
This isn’t the only influential sci-fi movie starring Keanu to celebrate a milestone anniversary in 2019, but it is the first. In February 1989, Keanu shot to superstardom as Ted (Theodore) Logan, one-half of the time-traveling/air-guitar-wielding duo known as the Wyld Stallyns, in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Though he had been acting for some time when he was cast as Ted, the role would become a definitive one in Reeves’ career, arguably cementing his airheaded slacker character as a caricature of the actor himself in most viewers’ minds. Still, the movie is considered an ’80s comedy classic and was the subject of anniversary screenings and a brand new limited edition blu-ray.
March 20, 2019 — Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter officially announce Bill & Ted 3
Of course, the 30th anniversary of Bill & Ted wasn’t the biggest thing that happened earlier this year. Reeves and his Wyld Stallyns partner Alex Winter took to YouTube to officially announce the start of production on Bill & Ted Face the Music, the capper to the trilogy. Filmed in front of the Hollywood Bowl and dropped onto social media with little fanfare, the 30-second video quickly caught fire on the internet. It’s good to know the Keanussance will at least last until August 2020.
March 31, 2019 — The Matrix turns 20
In the spring of 1999, Hollywood was irrevocably changed when an unknown quantity directed by the siblings behind Bound debuted in theaters. The Matrix would go on to be one of the most influential movies of all time — whose impact is still being felt to this day. 1999 has been regarded as one of the most landmark years in all of movies, and The Matrix has a lot to do with that. Keanu’s epic science-fiction action thriller was the subject of every thinkpiece under the sun when the movie’s milestone anniversary rolled around in late March.
April 15, 2019 — That black & white cover and spread for GQ
Despite what some people might think, Keanu Reeves is an empirically handsome man. I mean…
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) April 15, 2019
Alex Pappademas’ cover story is a must-read, too.
May 2019 — Keanu takes over the world
It’s no coincidence that the apex of the Keanussance occurred during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month — despite most of (non-Asian) twitter only just now realizing his Chinese and Hawaiian heritage — because May is the month that Keanu took over the world. First up on May 16, his (highly gifable) appearance at the end of the Always Be My Maybe trailer only portended what was to come.
The next day, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum opened wide on 3,850 screens and knocked Avengers: Endgame off the top of the box office with a $57 million take. To date, Chapter 3 has already grossed more than the first two movies combined. Lionsgate wasted little time in announcing a fourth chapter for May 2021.
Two weeks later, Always Be My Maybe premiered in select theaters and on Netflix and it was clear the moment he stepped on screen that Keanu’s “cameo” was a.) more than a cameo, and b.) going to be the most talked about part of the movie. For one reason, his role was a mystery kept hidden until the movie was released. While news of his casting had been known more than a year out, no one knew anything about the character. The fact that Reeves was playing a heightened version of himself was just icing on the cake.
June 1, 2019 — He might be headed to the MCU
A report on the fansite MCU Cosmic claimed that Marvel Studios was in negotiations with Reeves to star in The Eternals. At this point, this is only a rumor, but the possibility of Keanu joining the MCU in a movie that also stars Kumail Nanjiani and is being directed by Chloe Zhao would make Eternals Marvel’s Asianiest movie, at least until Shang-Chi comes out. Moreover, if it does happen, we’d be one step closer to Greg Pak’s fantasy of a Keanu Reeves/Jeff Goldblum mash-up.
Somebody's gonna put Keanu Reeves and Jeff Goldblum in a movie together and the internet's gonna explode.
— Greg Pak (@gregpak) May 31, 2019
June 7, 2019 — Disney/Pixar releases Duke Caboom clip from Toy Story 4
Oh you didn’t know? The Keanussance continues later this month when Toy Story 4 introduces the world to Duke Caboom, “the Canuck with All the Luck.” While a TV spot featuring the character was released in early May, fans got their first extended look at Reeves’ take on the character in an official clip from the movie. Even better, we got to see Keanu behind-the-mic breathing life into what many are predicting to be the breakout star of this new chapter in the Toy Story saga.
June 9, 2019 — Keanu showed up at E3 and took everyone’s breath away
No one expected Keanu to show up during the XBox event at E3. The fact that he was there to reveal he would be starring in next year’s Cyberpunk 2077 game sent everyone in to a hyperventilating tizzy — both folks in attendance and those online. Just check out this rockstar entrance:
Talk about “breathtaking!”
Cyberpunk is also due out in 2020, so one thing is for sure — the Keanussance is everlasting.
— Valeria 🌹 (@Valeria_Mhr) June 9, 2019
Be excellent to each other!