However, it appears the WWE superstar and Hollywood actor is very open to playing another superhero, this time for DC Entertainment rival, Marvel Studios.
After a film and entertainment website made a suggestion for John Cena as the "perfect" role for him, Cena addresses the possibility in an interview. Check out the details below (and queue the Thuganomics entrance theme)!
John Cena as Ben Grimm
Earlier this year, Movieweb posted an article suggesting that John Cena would be perfect in the role of Benjamin J. Grimm (aka The Thing) for a Fantastic Four reboot.
This article references art from popular fan artist Boss Logic. Boss Logic is renowned for doing photo-manipulation pieces that depict actors and celebrities in pop culture content, such as comic books, fantasy, anime and manga, and similar roles. The particular Fantastic Four piece from April 2018 can be seen here on Boss Logic's Twitter post:
— BossLogic (@Bosslogic) April 7, 2018
The fan art shows Cena in the role of Ben Grimm/The Thing, along with John Krasinski as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Emily Blunt as Sue Storm/Invisible Girl, and Zac Efron as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch.
Krasinski and his wife Emily Blunt have already previously shot down rumors of their potential casting. Emily Blunt (Disney's Jungle Cruise) has even gone on to say on the Howard Stern show that she is not particularly interested in a superhero role (though she did not say she would never play one). As the actress stated:
That is fan-casting. No one has received a phone call. That's just people saying, 'Wouldn't that be great?' I don't know if superhero movies are for me. They're not up my alley. I don't like them. I really don't... It's been exhausted. We are inundated-it's not only all the movies, it's the endless TV shows as well. It's not to say that I'd never want to play one, it would just have to be something so cool and like a really cool character, and then I'd be interested.
In contrast to Blunt’s statement, pro wrestling heavyweight John Cena has expressed that he is open and willing to do fill in the role of the Fantastic Four’s ever-lovin, blue-eyed Thing.
In an August 28, 2021 video of Esquire’s Explain This, John Cena is featured as part of the promotion for his upcoming Vacation Friends project. In the video, the WWE’s Doctor of Thuganomics addresses the possibility of playing Ben Grimm in a Marvel Studios reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise:
I would consider most any-thing. I think keeping yourself open to options and different perspectives is a good way to go about life. This would simply be a thing that I would consider, because I like to keep my perspective open to new things.
An interesting note about Cena’s answer is the number of times he mentions the word "thing" with emphasis. Could the actor simply be doing this as a good-natured jesting, or could he be teasing something else? Perhaps Cena is hinting at the possibility that he has already had some discussions with Marvel Studios about this very thing? That is certainly an interesting prospect.
From Roger Corman to Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four reboot
It should be noted that The Fantastic Four has had a less than stellar history with its live-action efforts.
In 1986, Constantin Film held the rights to produce the Fantastic Four film. Infamously, Roger Corman was hired to produce a low-budget Fantastic Four movie simply to maintain the rights. Production of the movie was finished in 1994, but it was not intended to be released. Still, a trailer was released in theaters and copies of the film got into the hands of fans, which then spread around through bootleg tapes.
By 1995, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights and began planning on a proper big-screen Fantastic Four film. Due to certain difficulties, not the least of which are directors such as Chris Columbus and Peyton Reed coming in and leaving the project, the film did not begin production until 2004. After nearly 10 years, the first Fantastic Four film was released.
Directed by Tim Story (Ride Along, Tom & Jerry), the film starred Ioan Gruffud, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, and Michael Chiklis in the lead roles, with Julian McMahon playing the villain, Doctor Doom. The film was successful enough to warrant a sequel in 2007, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Although both films did relatively well in the box office, a third entry did not materialize. Critics and fans gave negative reviews, mostly with regard to the sillier parts and lackluster story. However, the role of both Human Torch and The Thing (played by Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis, respectively) garnered praise for their comic book accuracy and earnest portrayal.
The property would not be revisited until 2009, when a complete reboot was planned out. Beginning July 2012, production for Fantastic Four moved forward with Josh Trank (Chronicle) in the director seat. The film was based more on the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book rather than the traditional version, with a younger cast and less Cold War-era plot. Also called Fan4stic by fans (due to promotional material released), the film bombed in the box office and critically lambasted.
Fans pointed out the uneven storytelling, ridiculous dialogue, and the miscasting of the roles of the entire Fantastic Four as the main culprits for its failure. The lack of the chemistry, particularly with Human Torch (played by Michael B. Jordan) and The Thing (Jamie Bell), was another key element missing that the previous two films at least had.
By 2017, the Walt Disney Company acquired 21st Century Fox and its film division, 20th Century Fox, thus also acquiring the Fantastic Four rights (along with the X-Men film franchise). Marvel Studios president and chief creative officer Kevin Feige announced another Fantastic Four reboot, this time under the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. John Watts (Spider-Man: No Way Home) has been attached to direct.
If John Cena is The Thing
With WWE and film star John Cena being enthusiastic about playing Ben Grimm, who could effectively play his Fantastic Four compatriots? With Krasinski and Blunt unlikely candidates, could the rumors of Denzel Washington and Orlando Bloom for Reed Richards be a good fit as The Thing's best buddy? These actors would certainly produce interesting dynamics, especially if the rumor of the Fantastic Four film being set during its 1960s comic book origins is true.
What about The Thing’s sparring partner, Johnny Storm? Chris Evans was near pitch-perfect playing the role opposite Michael Chiklis. But with Evans already being Captain America in the MCU, reprising his role is unlikely (and he would be too old for the role at this point, regardless). It would have to be an actor with comedic timing and has good chemistry with John Cena, that’s for certain.
As Marvel Studios’ Phase Four projects continue in earnest, stay tuned for further development and potential signs in upcoming films, particularly Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
For the meantime, John Cena can currently be seen in 20th Century Studios' comedy Vacation Friends. Also starring Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, and Meredith Hagner, Vacation Friends is currently available for streaming on Hulu.