Exclusive: Mark Wahlberg Replacing Dave Bautista In Universe’s Most Wanted

Mark Wahlberg is taking the role of an alien peacekeeper in Universe's Most Wanted from a departing Dave Bautista.

By Nathan Kamal | Updated

dave bautista

Mark Wahlberg will take over Dave Bautista’s role as an intergalactic peacekeeper in the upcoming sci-fi adventure Universe’s Most Wanted. According to our trusted and proven sources, the Instant Family star will now lead the movie, which is being directed by Brad Peyton and is currently in pre-production. Both Mark Wahlberg and Dave Bautista have extremely busy slates of upcoming films, and it is currently unknown exactly why the Guardians of the Galaxy star has departed the movie.

The premise of Universe’s Most Wanted involves a spaceship containing some of the deadliest and worst criminals in the cosmos crashlanding outside of a small town on Earth, with the residents struggling to defend themselves against the alien bad guys. Mark Wahlberg will now be playing the outer space lawman (originally intended for Dave Bautista) who teams up with the local sheriff and his son to recapture and/or kill the interstellar malfeasants. Now that the star of Uncharted is taking over the role, it is possible it is being rewritten to indicate the character is from the same Space Boston as Bill Burr’s Mandalorian ex-Imperial.

Both Mark Wahlberg and Dave Bautista are known for their ability to inject levity into action roles, so it is not a surprise that one would be swapped for the other. Universe’s Most Wanted’s Brad Peyton is best known for directing a number of fantasy adventure films starring Dwayne Johnson, including San Andreas, Rampage, and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, so it is possible that he was also in the running for the lead role at some point. At this point, it appears Johnson is ready to consider going back to familiar territory, so maybe he missed out on this one. 

Mark Wahlberg currently has four announced upcoming projects compared to Dave Bautista’s eight, so maybe he was just taking some of the load off the former WWE star. Wahlberg is set to star in The Six Billion Dollar Man, an adjusted-for-inflation film adaption of the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man, The Family Plan, a movie about an assassin living in the suburbs that seems to share its plot with Bob Odenkirk’s Nobody, the everyman-turned-spy Our Man from Jersey with Halle Berry, and Arthur the King, a movie about a man who bonds with a dog during an endurance race.

For his part, Dave Bautista is set to star in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, in which he will play Marvel fan-favorite character Drax the Destroyer, and Dune: Part 2, reprising the brutal and violent Glossu Rabban. Both high-profile science fiction series have boosted his visibility and acclaim as an actor to an enormous degree, which may have made Bautista a little less interested in starring in mid-range fantasy adventure films.

On the other hand, he seems pretty up for playing any comic book character (other than Drax) that people want, so maybe he is not actually all that picky. Undoubtedly, both Mark Wahlberg and Dave Bautista will have several new projects on their dockets as quickly as possible and may swap them around once again.