Cena’s star is on the rise, but will he conquer Hollywood?
John Cena has come a long way since his days freestyle rapping on WWE television back in 2002. In that time, he’s evolved from being a rich man’s Vanilla Ice into sports entertainment’s biggest box office draw, a position he’s firmly grasped for the better part of 15 years. On top of that, he’s released a Billboard-charting album, hosted Saturday Night Live (twice), and appeared in several movies and TV shows. Not since Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dave “The Animal” Bautista has a pro wrestler captured the mainstream eye so prominently. As his career in the squared circle slowly winding down, Cena’s stock in Hollywood continues to rise.
Following a string of well-received performances in Trainwreck, Sisters, Daddy’s Home, and The Wall, the former “Doctor of Thuganomics” has shown that he’s capable of so much more than the direct-to-video fare produced by WWE Studios he was once accustomed to. Not that there is anything wrong The Marine and 12 Rounds, but the Champ has marketability beyond B-grade action flicks.
I’m not the only one who seems to think so: THR just announced that he’ll be joining Hailee Steinfeld and a cast of young actors in Paramount’s upcoming Transformers spin-off, Bumblebee. Helmed by Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight, Bumblebee will be a prequel story to the events of Michael Bay’s series. So far, all we know is that it will be a coming-of-age type story that’s being compared to The Iron Giant. Go ahead and shake your head at the thought of a Transformers film in same the vein as a beloved emotional masterpiece. I’m confident that it’ll deliver, because this franchise needs some heart, and the team they’ve assembled are more than capable of injecting it with some.
Cena’s role is still unspecified, but the report states it will be a big part. Can Super Cena help save this malfunctioning franchise? If he has a substantial role and good material to work with, there’s no reason why he can’t play a big part in helping restore some good will. But in a film of this magnitude, he’ll also gain more mainstream exposure as a big screen performer. Unless he cocks it up completely, that won’t hurt his quest for Hollywood elitism by any means.
John Cena is a good actor, and his skill set will complement a film like this perfectly. For a start, the dude is a hulk of a man and more than equipped to deliver the goods when it comes to action set-pieces. Moreover, as his previous roles have shown, he also has good comedic timing, natural charisma, and serviceable dramatic range. He was the highlight of Trainwreck, but it was evident from The Marine how capable the guy is at delivering a solid, well-rounded performance.
I don’t think many people are doubting the wrestler’s ability as an actor, but is he capable of following in the footsteps of Dwayne Johnson and becoming a reliable leading man? The Rock is proof that WWE is a great platform for moving on to bigger and better things, and now he’s the highest-paid actor on the entire planet. Cena seems to be following a similar path, starting out with some low-key supporting roles until the bigger opportunities present themselves.
Later this year, Cena will be voicing the titular bull in 20th Century Fox’s animated family tale Ferdinand. He’ll also be returning for the Daddy’s Home sequel, followed by a part in next year’s comedy The Pact. Only time will tell how well-received and successful those movies will be, but on paper, they seem like safe choices that will appeal to your average moviegoer as on top of showcasing Cena’s strongest traits as performer.
Those movies will lead nicely into Bumblebee, and if it does the business we might see him become an integral part of a profitable franchise. And with the talent attached to the film, it might even be… wait for it… good. Either way, Bumblebee is the high-profile gig which offers Cena the chance to continue his ascension, and it’s happening whether you like it or not.
Of course, this is all just speculation. The 40-year-old doesn’t plan on leaving the industry that made him any time soon. He has plenty of gas in the tank. However, oscillating between Hollywood and WWE allows him to keep his options open for life after wrestling, as well as protect his body from the rigorous demands of a full-time schedule. It’s up to Cena how far he goes, but don’t expect him to fade away from either platform any time soon.