With the recent publication of John Cena’s Peacemaker series by DC, the wrestler-turned-actor has stated that the superhero isn’t his first journey into the realm of comic book characters, but it is the only one that has been successful thus far.
Cena dug into the facts of how difficult it is to acquire a Marvel or DC part on the podcast Happy, Sad Confused, outlining his own series of rejections. The actor said that he had previously auditioned for the role of Shazam in the next film, but Zachary Levi was cast instead.
Cena shared, “I can’t tell you how many superhero roles I’ve been rejected for. Shazam is certainly one. I think like a child, so Shazam was super interesting to me.”
He also revealed that he had previously auditioned for the role of Cable in Deadpool 2, with the role eventually going to actor Josh Brolin, who also played Thanos in the MCU. However, Cena shared that he did not give up hope. The actor explained, “There was a brief try at the Deadpool universe, rejection. There were a few in the Marvel universe, rejected. But you know, I keep trying.”
“I read all those scripts, and I read all those parts, and I was like, ‘Man, I really think I could add to this,’ and just rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection,” he shared, adding, “But I guess that… the lows make the highs high.”
Cena finally landed a stint as a superhero with James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, getting cast in the role of Peacemaker. The character was also picked up for a spin-off series with HBO Max, with the first episode premiering earlier this week.
Speaking about his collaboration with Gunn, Cena said, “The crazy thing was, I wasn’t first on the list for Peacemaker. James had a long list, and it happened by accident, too. He’s like, ‘Hey, I’m in Atlanta, I’d just love to come and talk to you for a second.’ We sat down in his pre-production office, which was literally like a war headquarters where you could see the whole movie in posterboard taped around his office, and he started talking about Peacemaker, and he’s like, ‘I think you should do it.’ So I’m not rejected? They usually say, like, ‘Hey, love you man, but we’re just going in another direction.'”