Will John Cena Be A Better Replacement As The New Terminator Than The Rock?

John Cena and The Rock

The Rock and John Cena are both rumored to be in the running for the title role of a Terminator reboot, but the latter should play the iconic villain
Both Dwayne Johnson “the Rock” and John Cena have recently been talked up as replacements for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role of a Terminator reboot, but the latter wrestler-turned-actor would be a better fit for the role. Beginning in 1984 with James Cameron’s original The Terminator, the Terminator franchise has, in the decades since that slasher-influenced sci-fi horror debuted, turned the effective action of the original movie into a series of post-apocalyptic war movies, more family-friendly sequels, and convoluted spin-offs.

John Cena

To be fair to The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the story of the Terminator franchise was always hard to follow, and despite how effective the sparse, scary atmosphere is, Cameron’s original movie is not an easy plot for viewers to piece together upon first viewing. But as complex as the knotty plot can get at times, the original Terminator and its blockbuster first sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day both made the canny decision to focus more on thrills and violent action than lore, making both movies entertaining despite their time-jumping backstory.

The Rock

However, like the movie’s earlier, critically dismissed sequels Genisys and Salvation, the 2019 installment Terminator: Dark Fate proved unable to recapture this delicate balance of punchy thrills and time-travel plot mechanics. The failure of Deadpool director Tim Miller’s movie to make an impact with both critics and audiences alike means the Terminator series will likely be in for a full-blown reboot rather than another sequel if the studio does revive the franchise despite Dark Fate’s flop, and some exciting names have been reported to be attached to the project. No official word is known yet, but according to insider tips, a pair of prominent wrestler-turned-actors, John Cena and Dwayne Johnson “the Rock” have both been considered for the title role of the franchise reboot. Both actors have been rumored to be attached to a potential new Terminator movie, but Cena makes more sense in the titular role than Johnson.

From the unfocused story of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines to the appearance of a Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Terminator turned retired drape salesman named Carl in Dark Fate, it’s fair to say every post-Judgement Day Terminator series outing has not known what to do with the title character. The first film established Arnie’s android assassin as an iconic villain, the second made him a hero — and this reboot could take an equally charismatic wrestler-turned-leading-man in John Cena and make him an instantly iconic, un-ironic chilling villain. Without re-establishing the Terminator as the villain of the series, the reboot would likely fall into the same trap as earlier outings such as Terminator: Salvation, which failed to offer a T-800 or-1000 style villainous threat after cutting Helena Bonham Carter’s promising Serena and became bogged down by boring backstory as a result. With Margot Robbie being eyed as a lead, there is no need for the Terminator to also be a hero in a series reboot, meaning the movies can get back to their roots.

John Cena

Early in his screen career, John Cena transitioned into Hollywood stardom by playing mostly muscular heroic he-men in uncomplicated action fare like 12 Rounds and The Marine. He has since subverted this persona by taking on goofy comedic roles in everything from Train wreck to Blockers to The Suicide Squad, and playing a non-comedic villain is the ideal next step for his onscreen progression. Unlike the Rock, Cena has not yet attempted to take on a villainous role, although the long-delayed Fast 9 was intended to be the actor’s first attempt at such a subversion of his good-guy image. Time will tell whether Cena’s character works as a villain in that franchise, but regardless, the tone of the more far-fetched Fast and Furious sequels is a far cry from the self-serious horror of the original Terminator. As a result, Cena would still be taking on his first dead serious movie role since his early action heroics if he took on the part, and his history of more self-serious action proves that unlike Johnson Cena does have an interest in taking himself seriously onscreen. As such, playing the title villain of a Terminator reboot could allow Cena to reboot his own screen personal and take on fewer comic parts as Johnson continues with the campy, goofier roles that have netted him critical acclaim and audience adoration in recent decades.

John Cena


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