John Cena has certainly found a calling in the world of comic book characters, fully embodying one of the brawnier and funnier characters we’ve ever seen in this space. His take on Peacemaker almost feels like the role he was born to play with James Gunn helping to bring everything to life around a previously underused character. But Peacemaker wasn’t John Cena’s first try at getting into the superhero game. Far from it. He recently let on that he had tried to get multiple parts in both the DC and Marvel Universes with one character a big disappointment when he didn’t land it.
While speaking with Josh Horowitz from the Happy Sad Confused podcast John Cena let on that Peacemaker came along after he’d been rejected multiple times from both studios over other comic book characters. There were a few examples given, but Cena did let on that one he was really trying to get was Shazam. While he did get specific about some other roles he was in the running for, this one has clearly stuck with him for the last couple of years. Check out what John Cena had to say about it.
John Cena says that the Shazam role was one he really wanted but was rejected by DC when they chose to go with Zachary Levy in the part. For Cena, it would make sense why he’d have this particular character in mind. We’ve seen the actor trend towards the silly side with some of his roles, clearly able to bring the humor which plays so well alongside his massive frame. Shazam!, at the time, was as lighthearted a movie as had come along in the DC Extended Universe, and it’s easy to picture Cena in the lead role.
In addition to the Shazam! rejection, John Cena also let on that he’d gone out for Cable in the Deadpool universe. This part eventually went to Josh Brolin, but the tone of those films clearly would have lined up with Cena’s sensibilities as well. Brolin played that character straight, but it’s likely that Cena would have brought a bit more levity to the role, maybe something David Leitch and company weren’t looking for in the Ryan Reynolds sequel.
In the end, though I think we can all agree that the way it has worked out for John Cena is the best possible outcome. He stole the show as Peacemaker in last summer’s The Suicide Squad with James Gunn bringing a silly and sublime tone to the film and characters that DC desperately needed. And they’ve parlayed that success into the Peacemaker series which just recently dropped on HBO Max.
It’s been a huge hit with critics and is currently sitting at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Much of that is due to Cena’s hilarious take on the character, an egotistical dolt in every way, with his loose moral code around liberty and freedom coming into conflict with his desire to murder everything in sight. I think we can all be grateful that DC and Marvel couldn’t see it with other roles for Cena, because this one was certainly the way to go.