When John Cena wrestled the Rock — better known as Dwayne Johnson — at WrestleMania 28 in 2012, the match was billed as “Once in a Lifetime.” But, perhaps these two can still brawl in DC’s superhero movie Shazam!
With eight-time WWE champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the role as the evil Black Adam in Shazam! slated for 2018, Warner Bros. should capitalize on the situation by enlisting his former rival John Cena, himself an actor on the rise, as Shazam. A single being with the combined might of six mythological legends, Shazam was originally named Captain Marvel when he made his comics debut in 1940 from Fawcett Comics (later bought by DC). His real identity is an orphan named Billy Batson, who can access the powers of six gods — Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury — by uttering their combined acronym: “SHAZAM.”
On a superficial level, John Cena looks like Shazam. Period. With the physique of a Greek statue, John Cena — who played football and was a bodybuilder before his WWE career — looks like an actual superhero. (He even has been in WWE’s bizarre video games like WWE Immortals.) Few can dream to match up against Dwayne Johnson, but John Cena has. Twice.
But the most important thing about Shazam is Billy, the boy who wields the powers. In most of Shazam’s best stories, Billy just learns to grasp the gravity of his powers. In DC shows like Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice, Shazam is often portrayed as a big kid. While he may have the body of a god, his heart is playful, and when he’s not careful, people get hurt.
That’s the key that separates Shazam from other young superheroes like the Flash. Although there’s no director attached for Shazam!, a good comedy director can emphasize the unique elements that make up Shazam, which can separate him from every other superhero out there.
And Cena, believe it or not, is a comedic master. After a decade in front of live WWE cameras, Cena accidentally got the best improv training without spending a day with the Groundlings. In Trainwreck, many critics took notice of Cena’s funny bone, and his costars in Sisters — SNL legends Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — commended the big guy for making them keel over.
Cena looks big and dumb, and when he’s on RAW, he’s not that funny. But give him a microphone at the ESPY Awards or in a scene with Amy Schumer, and Cena is a genius. Ignore his straight action fare like The Marine or 12 Rounds; those films didn’t know the real ammunition Cena had at his disposal.
Bottom line: John Cena and Dwayne Johnson have unfinished business, and their fight can only reach mythological levels when it happens in the DC Universe as Black Adam and Shazam.