On Sunday, in front of 82,000 people at WrestleMania 35, Dave Bautista — under his ring name, “Batista” — retired as a WWE performer. While Bautista has expressed ambitions to become a renowned character actor, his exit from the WWE could mean more Drax the Destroyer in future Marvel movies — especially after Avengers: Endgame.
This is just one Inverse String Theory, but it could be true. So consider yourself warned about potential Avengers: Endgame spoilers.
Hours after a brutal and violent match against former mentor and rival Triple H, Batista announced his retirement from WWE on his social media pages.
“To all the @wwe fans across the world that gave me the opportunity to suspend your disbelief, thank you,” Bautista wrote. “From the biggest part of my heart thank you for letting me entertain you. Tonight was my story book ending and I wanted to leave you with all I had to give. I’ll miss this theater of violence more than I can express in words but I am officially retiring from Sports Entertainment.”
The multi-time WWE and World Heavyweight Champion added that he is “proud of what I’ve accomplished, I leave in great health, and without a doubt the show will go on. I had a hell of a run. Thank you for the journey.”
While Bautista had become even less than a part-time performer for the WWE after starring in films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War, his official exit means he is free from any and all obligations to the WWE, a year-round gig that is notorious for its grueling commitment schedule.
This, of course, means Bautista’s future in the Marvel franchise as Drax is more or less assured to continue, barring anything else that happens to Drax after Avengers: Endgame and in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Almost ironically, the worst thing that could happen to Bautista’s Drax has already happened. As seen in the ending of Avengers: Infinity War, Drax was among the population turned to dust after Thanos “snapped” away half of all existence. In Avengers: Endgame, it’ll be up to the surviving Marvel superheroes to avenge them, and hopefully even bring those characters back.
Since 2010, Bautista had all but disappeared from WWE after a meteoric rise to stardom that started in 2002. After leaving the WWE in 2010, Bautista embarked on a short-lived mixed martial arts career before turning to acting, starring in pictures like The Man with the Iron Fists (2012). In 2014, he established his star Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a mega-hit summer blockbuster that introduced a whole new franchise to the Marvel Universe.
Bautista returned to the WWE just a few times during his full-time Hollywood career. Months before the premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy, Bautista reunited with Triple H and Randy Orton to reform their old alliance, Evolution. In May 2014, Bautista reportedly grew frustrated with his stint, and parted ways with the WWE again.
In October 2018, months after he was snapped out of the MCU in Avengers: Infinity War, Bautista returned for a special appearance on an episode of WWE SmackDown where he teased a match with Triple H. The tease became real in February 2019, when Bautista appeared as an onscreen villain demanding Triple H to a match at WrestleMania 35.
While the onscreen stipulation for their match would be that if Triple H lost, it would be his retirement, the opposite turned out to be true IRL. No one outside the WWE knew that Bautista was wrestling his final match.
With Bautista now free from the obligations of wrestling, it is likely he will direct all his mental and physical energies to becoming the character actor he want to be. In a 2019 profile by the Tampa Bay Times, Bautista said his ambitions in Hollywood are not that of superstardom, but prestige.
“I want good roles. I don’t care about Fast and Furious or Bumblebee,” he said. “That’s not the kind of stardom I want. I want to be in Dune. I want to work with Denis Villeneuve. I want to work with Sam Mendes and Jodie Foster. I want to work with Academy Award winners. I’m proud to be a character actor. I want that respect and credibility and education.”
While starring in a Marvel franchise is pretty equal to Fast & Furious, Bautista isn’t precious about that kind of stardom. In 2018, in the aftermath of Disney firing James Gunn (and prior to rehiring him), Bautista expressed loyalty to Gunn and publicly declared disinterest in working for Disney. Based on these comments, it’s safe to say Bautista values creativity more than he does a gargantuan platform.
“I’m not really happy with what they’ve done with James Gunn,” Bautista said in an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show. “To be honest with you I don’t know if I want to work for Disney.”
With Gunn reinstated as director of the third Guardians movie, it’s safe to assume Dave Bautista will reprise his role as Drax as well. And why wouldn’t he? He has time now.
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26, 2019.
In the final lead-up to Avengers: Endgame’s release, Inverse is unleashing a few fan theories of our own. Read all of them here and check back for weekly theories from some journalists who spend way too much time thinking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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