Duke Nukem producer and John Cena want a likable Duke

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Mar 27, 2018, 9:55 PM EDT

Late last year, we heard that WWE wrestler turned actor John Cena was in talks to star in the big-screen adaptation of Duke Nukem. While the Duke Nukem movie isn’t quite ready to go forward yet, it sounds like negotiations with Cena have tentatively gone forward. Now the producers are attempting to find a way to make Duke Nukem into a character who can be likable in the current media landscape.

Via Cinemablend, producer Andrew Form confirmed that Cena is currently circling Duke Nukem with a desire to play the video game icon. That said, Cena could still pass on the role.

When asked if Cena was onboard for Duke Nukem, Form said, “He is. Yes. We don't have a script yet, so that is confirmed at this point, but if he reads the script and he doesn't like the script I'm sure there's ways that he could pull out, but right now he's our guy.”

Cena himself echoed those sentiments in an interview with ScreenRant, who also noted the actor looks a lot like Duke: "I think that’s the direct attachment and I’m very honored to be attached to that but that is a very fragile franchise. That was one that was very timeline specific, that is 1990s to the hilt. So, once again, it reflects upon story. The story has to come in dead-on balls, man. Like it has to come in told correct, told in a palatable sense for this generation, which you’re walking on eggshells…you can’t not be Duke Nukem, but you can’t make the wrong move… so I’m… what a blessing to be attached to that, a name like that, and I just hope development does the franchise justice."


Duke Nukem made his name as a misogynist and a cocky jerk who couldn’t resist spouting the cheesiest of one-liners. But Duke’s crude ‘90s humor just isn’t going to fly anymore. And how do you make a jerk like that into a likable character? That’s a question Form hasn’t been able to answer yet.

“You know that having a misogynistic guy in today's world, how do you make that fun and lovable and at the same time he's got to be an incredible badass?” asked Form. “So those are the things that we're struggling with, and we're going to try and come out with what I hope is a really fun ride. That's the goal, is for it to be a really fun ride.”

For now, Form is using the R-rated Deadpool movies as a potential guide to getting the right tone for Duke Nukem.

Form goes on to say, “It's going to be about tone,” and that if they don't get it right, they won't make the movie. So if you have any tips on how to make a rascal like Duke a little more likable, please let Form and Cena know your thoughts in the comments below.