Following in the sizeable footsteps of The Rock before him, John Cena has well and truly made the leap from mere WWE Superstar to Hollywood actor. He’s currently gracing Australian screens in Blockers, and it seems his calendar is already filling up with future projects, including one of gaming’s most iconic heroes.
When the rumours first started circling, we weren’t quite sure what to make of it. Wrestling’s good guy (bad guy), playing the gun-totin’, gum-chewin’, lady-lovin’ Duke? It didn’t seem like something that would ever actually happen.
…apparently it is, with producer Andrew Form telling CinemaBlend:
Yeah, that’s what we’re working with now. [Cena] is. Yes. We don’t have a script yet, so that is confirmed at this point but if he reads the script and he doesn’t like the script I’m sure there’s ways that he could pull out, but right now he’s our guy.
The film even has an IMDB page, which currently says absolutely nothing.
We do, however, know a few names that are on board. Previously, Form has teamed up with Brad Fuller to produced such gems as the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the remakes of both Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, the TV adaptation of Jack Ryan, and – for something a little different – the upcoming Dora the Explorer movie. Their work is about to be splashed all over our screens again in horror outing A Quiet Place, but the pair’s next film project is another break from tradition, drawing inspiration from another larger-than-life, wisecrackin’ caricature.
Form explained that the secret to getting Duke Nukem right is finding the right tone (and, honestly, they’re not 100% sure if they can do it).
How do you nail that tone in the way that Deadpool nailed the tone? I think we have to do that and if we don’t get the tone right then we’re not going to make the movie.
Finding this tone, Form says, is more than just finding a good writer, or a talented filmmaker, or a clever actor, or wonderful source material. It’s a combination of everything, and what works on one film might not work on another. With Deadpool, Marvel captured lightning in a bottle, but – let’s face it – the franchise wouldn’t have worked nearly as well with a different actor in the title role.
Similarly, Form acknowledges that the team needs to work out the right way to bring a sexist, smartmouthed, politically incorrect redneck into today’s society – while still making him an incredible badass who is “fun and lovable” at the same time.
…those are the things that we’re struggling with and we’re going to try and come out with what I hope is a really fun ride. That’s the goal, is for it to be a really fun ride.
The more I think about this news, and the more I hear about what’s going on behind the scenes, the more I like it. Cena has proven himself more than capable of not taking himself too seriously (for reference, check out his turn at hosting the 2018 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards), so he might actually be a pretty decent choice for the Duke. It all depends, however, on whether he can kick-ass and chew bubble gum.