John Cena finally got his foot in the door as a comic book character with the role of Peacemaker. That wasn’t his first attempt to work with DC or Marvel.
Thanks to James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, we finally got a live-action version of Peacemaker. I know that everyone was waiting with bated breath for this character to finally come to the big screen. After that initial taster of Cena in that role, we now get a five-course meal with Peacemaker being center stage in his own eponymous series on HBO Max, a spin-off from The Suicide Squad.
However, Cena has revealed that he had tried a number of times to get into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Cena was on the Happy, Sad, Confused podcast and talked about the rejections he faced.
“I can’t tell you how many superhero roles I’ve been rejected for. Shazam is certainly one. There was a brief try at the Deadpool universe, rejection, [for the role of Cable, which went to Josh Brolin instead]”
He expanded on the rejection from Shazam! a bit while mentioning a few from Marvel.
“Shazam! was Dikembe Mutumbo. There was a few in the Marvel universe, rejected. But you know, I kept trying. I think like a child, so Shazam was super interesting to me. And when I read the script, a lot of times, like… this is the thing, I don’t just chase ‘I want to do this,’ I always have to read it.”
Mentioning having to read screenplays before accepting anything, Cena commented that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to being directed by James Gunn.
“James Gunn is the only person who gets a free pass. The only reason he gets a free pass is his reputation as a storyteller. He just does not let up, he claws at every piece, and I know it’s gonna be good, because he starts from a blank page and that’s it. But I always read it, I always read the story to make sure one, I like it, and two, it falls within my skillset. I do want to challenge myself, but I don’t want the first time I do something to be on screen for a paying customer. I want to get practice and perform at a level that’s consumer quality.”
After so many rejections, Cena wasn’t expecting much when he first auditioned for the character of Peacemaker. Apparently, he wasn’t Gunn’s first choice for the role, either.
“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,” Cena said. “But I guess that’s what… the lows make the highs high. And 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.'”
Cena was perfect for the role of Peacemaker and this just goes to show that patience is a virtue. Thankfully, things have worked out.
The first episode was released on HBO Max on January 13. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the series turns out.