See John Cena As Duke Nukem

John Cena as Duke Nukem? Could there be a better match?

By Michileen Martin | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

john cena, duke nukem

Could there be a better casting than John Cena as the cigar-chomping action hero parody Duke Nukem? He’s already playing something of a send-up of American action vigilantes, as the eponymous hero of HBO Max’s Peacemaker. Now, we have an awesome new image of Cena as the protagonist of the kill-happy Duke Nukem games.

The image comes courtesy of Terry Bogard, aka the popular fan artist Boss Logic. Over the weekend, a fan tweeted to Boss Logic, “For the love of god and all that is holy make a mock up of John cena (sic) as duke nukem.” Impressively, Boss Logic had the picture up on his twitter account the same day, with the response, “Sure” along with a heart emoji. The picture shows John Cena as Duke Nukem from the chest up, surrounded by the flame of a recent explosion (that he, no doubt, caused). You can see the image below.

While Boss Logic and a lot of other fan artists will often render images of what’s purely a fan-casting, this isn’t completely the case with John Cena as Duke Nukem. Back in 2018, Comic Book and others confirmed that Cena was attached to an upcoming Duke Nukem film adaptation. Unfortunately, the movie’s status is a little murky. In early 2019, Jon St. John — who has lended the titular hero his voice since 1991’s Duke Nukem game — tweeted that the movie was not being made. However, in February 2021, Gearbox Software — who hold the Duke Nukem rights — was acquired by the Embracer Group, who confirmed the film was moving forward though there was no specific mention about John Cena or any other specific actors being attached. There have also been reports that the Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel is in the running for the role.

One might argue that with the success of both 2021’s The Suicide Squad and now Peacemaker, John Cena is almost a little too perfect for the role of Duke Nukem. As the ultraviolent DC Comics vigilante Peacemaker, Cena has found — if the Rotten Tomatoes scores are accurate judges — his most successful acting role outside the wrestling ring. The critics’ score for Peacemaker is currently 94% and the audience rating is 86%, and both are higher than any big or small screen leading role Cena has landed beyond wrestling.

peacemaker review john cena

So for John Cena to take on the role of yet another incredibly violent character designed to be a parody of American action heroes might be seen as a little on the nose. Imagine if, say, Ian McKellen had played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies while also playing Dumbledore in Harry Potter. Or if Daniel Radcliffe had played Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Or if Marvel were to cast Jason Momoa as Namor. Same deal.

In fact, some fans don’t think a Duke Nukem movie is a good idea, period. Not long after the news about John Cena being attached to the property was first announced, Polgyon’s Ben Kuchera argued that the earliest Duke Nukem games were successful because their lead was never meant to be more than a two-dimensional send-up of macho action properties. Kuchera argued that Nukem didn’t have room for the fleshed-out characterization and complex mythologies of gaming characters who either have or could make a successful jump to the big screen, like Tomb Raider‘s Lara Croft and Uncharted‘s Nathan Drake. He says this is why the most recent Duke Nukem game — the controversial Duke Nukem Forever from 2011 — was a flop.