John Cena is open to being the next actor to portray Ben Grimm (better known to comic book fans as The Thing) if Marvel will have him in its cinematic universe.
The actor has been making a splash lately with breakout roles in the Fast and the Furious franchise, the DC Extended Universe film The Suicide Squad, and a brand new comedy for Hulu titled Vacation Friends. However, the highly coveted Hollywood accolade of being a member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to elude John Cena.
Fortunately, as the franchise grows, fans have seemingly identified a way for the former WWE star to break onto the Marvel comics scene by way of the studio’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. Speaking to Esquire, John Cena fielded a fan question about whether or not he would accept the role of Ben Grimm in the upcoming movie if he were approached. The star responded with some pun work that was about as subtle as a train wreck that ultimately amounted to the answer “yes!”
If Ryan Reynolds’ casting as Deadpool taught fans anything, it’s that if they make enough noise on social media, their movie casting dreams can indeed come true. It’s likely that John Cena is hoping a similar groundswell of support for him as The Thing will earn him a spot in Marvel’s first family when Studio boss Kevin Feige goes looking. Unfortunately, it will be a while before casting happens, let alone a finished product for people to see.
Feige and Disney announced in December of 2020 that a Fantastic Four reboot with Spider-Man director Jon Watts at the helm would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe sometime in the near future, at least after its current crop of movies, which extends to at least 2023. So, on the one hand, there’s a lot of time between now and casting. On the other hand, John Cena fans have a lot of time between now and casting to generate support and make him the only option to play Ben Grimm.
The casting would make sense. In the comic books, Grimm is an astronaut and former college football star who becomes best friends with Reed Richards. Their friendship endures as Reed becomes one of the world’s leading scientists and Grimm becomes one of the U.S. Air Forces’ top pilots. Grimm is a loyal, capable, soldier-like guy with a gritty edge to him who eventually has to live with the awesome horror of being turned mostly into rock. If all of this doesn’t sound like John Cena’s wheelhouse to you, you clearly haven’t been paying attention to some of his roles as of late.
Previously Ben Grimm was incredibly well cast in the original two Fantastic Four movies from 2005 and 2007 with Shield actor Michael Chiklis. However, those films were just prior to Iron Man hitting the scene in 2008 and completely revolutionized the way connected comic book universes are done. So, while Chiklis was great in the role, it was wasted on the last crop of bad superhero movies before Feige taught the world how to do it right. Still, 20th Century Fox’s 2015 reboot of the Fantastic Four proves you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. This movie saw Jamie Bell take on the role of Ben Grimm in a colossal, incoherent mess of a movie. Neither the charm of Michael Chiklis nor John Cena could have redeemed the latest iteration of Marvel’s first family, which played out more like someone spilled a movie and then desperately tried to scoop the contents back into a jar before charging a full ticket price.
Now, as the minds who brought fans such hits like The Avengers finally have one of their most prized properties back, big things are on the way for The Fantastic Four. The question now is whether John Cena will be part of those big things, or if the powers that be have something else in mind.