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John Cena might play Duke Nukem, which is both a great idea and the worst idea

(Photo: Getty Images, Stuart C. Wilson)

According to The Hollywood Reporter, John Cena is in negotiations to star in a movie adaptation of the Duke Nukem video games, a casting decision that is so perfect that it almost—almost—masks just how outrageously terrible the very idea of a Duke Nukem movie is. For those who missed the PC shooter craze of the ‘90s, Duke Nukem was essentially an amalgamation of every action hero ever, with an endless supply of one-liners (many of which were directly lifted from movies), a bunch of huge guns, and a tendency to objectify women as often as possible.

His games, at least starting with Duke Nukem 3D in 1996, were somewhat self-aware satires of action movies and other shooter games, but for every clever gag or cool combat sequence there was a level were Duke fought aliens in a strip club, saved naked “babes” from alien pods, or used a big monster’s corpse as a toilet. Duke himself is such a ridiculously outdated character at this point that even the things he was parodying aren’t relevant anymore, and the only way for something like this to work in this day and age (not to mention this political climate) is to go so smart with it that it becomes a condemnation of the things Duke used to represent. Of course, then it would no longer reflect what the Duke Nukem games were about, making the whole adaptation pointless, but maybe that’s the point.


That all being said, John Cena is absolutely perfect for this role, and if he could build a time machine to go back and make this movie in 1997 it would be phenomenal. No director is currently attached to this present-day Duke Nukem movie, but THR says it’s being produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes—which is even more appropriate than John Cena playing Duke.

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