“I didn’t look at myself as a second choice”: Not Dwayne Johnson, John Cena Should Thank Another WWE Champion For His Breakout Superhero Role in James Gunn’s ‘Peacemaker’

"I didn't look at myself as a second choice": Not Dwayne Johnson, John Cena Should Thank Another WWE Champion For His Breakout Superhero Role in James Gunn's 'Peacemaker'
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Navigating his career from wrestling to cinema, John Cena became a Hollywood legend in no time, just like his predecessor, Dwayne Johnson. Initially becoming a household name, after appearing in franchise blockbusters such as the Transformers spin-off, Bumblebee, and Johnson’s Fast and Furious storyline, Cena later reprised his role as a DC anti-hero in James Gunn’s 2021 blockbuster. 

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John Cena
John Cena

Debuting as DC’s Peacemaker, in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021), John Cena acquired a massive fanbase, alongside Viola Davis and Margot Robbie. The former wrestler’s appearance was hailed by the audience, forcing DC to offer him his own spinoff series, Peacemaker (2022). However, despite all the love he received, Cena wasn’t Gunn’s initial choice for the role. 

Also read: Dwayne Johnson Who? Margot Robbie’s Real Salary From ‘Barbie’ Puts The Rock’s $50 Million Contract To Shame

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John Cena Reprised His Role As DC’s Peacemaker 

Following his appearance in Dwayne Johnson‘s Fast and Furious film series, John Cena was heavily grateful to the former wrestler for providing an opportunity in the million-dollar franchise. Further, Cena landed his breakthrough role as a superhero with his DC debut as Peacemaker in James Gunn’s 2021 iteration, The Suicide Squad.

The Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad (2021)

Appearing in the franchise’s second take on Suicide Squad, John Cena became a fan-favorite character, as the movie hit the theatres during the pandemic. Venturing into an adventurous journey alongside Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, and Jai Courtney, who reprised their roles from the first installment in 2016, Cena and his on-screen alter ego acquired a separate fanbase.

John Cena in and as Peacemaker
John Cena as Peacemaker

As John Cena‘s Peacemaker became a standout role, the former wrestler was offered his own spinoff series, Peacemaker in 2022. Taking on the role of the DC superhero, “who loves peace so much that he’s willing to kill for it, ” fans hailed Cena for his work with Gunn. However, the acclaimed filmmaker reflected on how he initially considered Cena “a bit of a risk”. 

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Also read: “A lot of people are hating on The Rock”: After Dwayne Johnson’s ‘Black Adam’ Disaster, Fans Chose His WWE Archnemesis John Cena Over Him Despite His $50 Million Record

John Cena Wasn’t The Initial Choice For James Gunn 

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, following the release of John Cena’s first episode of Peacemaker, James Gunn mentioned how he hired Cena “without auditioning”. Thus, feeling the risky factor in the casting choice, Gunn told Screen Rant that he initially wanted another WWE champion to appear as Peacemaker.

Dave Bautista with James Gunn
James Gunn initially wanted Dave Bautista to play Peacemaker

Evidently, it was none other than Dave Bautista, who was the initial choice for James Gunn. Reportedly running to play Peacemaker in Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, the actor was considered a fair choice as previously worked with the filmmaker as Drax the Destroyer in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films. However, Bautista refused to appear in The Suicide Squad, as he “wanted to work with Zack [Snyder]” on the director’s Netflix zombie apocalypse movie, Army of the Dead.

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John Cena
Cena doesn’t consider himself a second-choice

Although John Cena was a second option for the role of Peacemaker, he claimed that he doesn’t view himself as a second choice. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cena explained, “I didn’t look at myself as a second choice; I just looked at it as a chance to do the best I could”. Being grateful to Bautista for refusing the role, Cena called the 2021 movie, “a tremendous honor and an incredible opportunity”. 

Further, the former wrestler signed a deal with James Gunn for the eight-episode spin-off series Peacemaker released on Max in 2022. 

Watch The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker on Max. 

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Read more: 12 Upcoming DCU Movies in James Gunn’s Universe: Booster Gold, Swamp Thing to Make Their DCU Debut After Xolo Maridueña’s ‘Blue Beetle’

Source: Screen Rant, Entertainment Weekly 

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Written by Krittika Mukherjee

Articles Published: 1709

Krittika is a News Writer at FandomWire with 2 years of prior experience in lifestyle and web content writing. With her previous works available on HubPages and Medium, she has woven over 1600 stories with us, about fan-favorite actors, movies, and shows. Post-graduate in Journalism and Honors-graduate in English Literature, when this art enthusiast isn't crafting your next favorite article, she finds her escapism in coffee, fiction, and the Wizarding World.