When it was announced earlier this week that The Miz (AKA Mike Mizanin) had been cast in the lead role of The Marine 3: Homefront, the latest instalment of WWE Studios' popular Marine franchise, it raised more than a few eyebrows in the wrestling industry.
It seems the general consensus is that the boyishly handsome, loud-mouth Miz, has been dreadfully cast as a gruff, deadly marine, and no one will possibly be able to take him remotely seriously in the role.
Certainly, it's a valid concern. Wrestling fans have had a hard enough time buying Miz as a threat to the other main event guys. Asking him to play a lethal, Chuck Norris-like soldier may be too much of a stretch for the former Real World star.
However, to dismiss Miz's performance before filming has even begun is also incredibly unfair. Indeed, far from being the dismal flop many are expecting, there are a few indications he may even do quite well in the film, which begins filming in June.
First of all, Miz, as his WWE promos and hilarious appearance on USA Network show Psych last month shows, is actually a very good actor with a strong and blissfully unfettered on-screen presence.
Oh, he won't win any Academy Awards any time soon, but he looks wholly comfortable on camera and can deliver his lines in a clear, concise manner with a great deal of sincerity and enthusiasm. This is more than a lot of the roster have going for them.
For some context, let's compare this news to the casting of the woefully wooden Ted DiBiase Jr. in The Marine 2.
Sure, ostensibly we could take DiBiase more seriously than Miz as a tough, resilient marine, but DiBiase's stilted, self-conscious performance was a huge gaping flaw in that film. While he was perfectly adequate in the film’s assortment of fight scenes, asking him to carry on a conversation on-screen—and come off like something vaguely resembling a real person—was clearly asking far too much of the third-generation star.
John Cena, while faring slightly better, didn't exactly impress in the first Marine film either. Indeed, for all his star power and fiery charisma in wrestling, Cena has yet to figure out a way to transfer these qualities to his movie projects where, for the most part, he comes off as clunky, achingly bland and dull.
It's also very doubtful the monotone Orton, who was originally set to star until his dishonourable discharge from the real USMC in 1999 came back to haunt him, would have delivered that great an acting performance in that film either. Especially going by some of his attemps at conveying emotions in awful backstage skits on WWE TV in the past.
Interestingly, for all the disdain and derision that met the announcement of his casting, Miz may actually be the most accomplished wrestler-turned-actor to approach the franchise and the first one truly capable of supplying it with a respectable lead performance.
There's also the fact that The Marine 3: Homefront scribes do have time to change parts of the script and rewrite them to suit Miz's personality better.
Indeed, the casting of Mizanin has already caused some rewrites. Originally, when Orton was to star, it was the marine's teenage daughter who was abducted by the evil terrorists (female relatives are always getting kidnapped in WWE movies); now it's his niece instead.
Presumably this move was made due to Mizanin's youthful appearance and him not feasibly looking like he could be the father of a teenager.
If the writers of The Marine 3: Homefront were smart, they would make other changes too. Instead of making this marine character the same invulnerable super-soldier we've endured through the other movies, they could write him to be more human, more personable and down-to-earth. Rather than some invincible superhero, write the marine character to be a young, normal hard-working guy who has to step up and do the right thing when called upon.
Not only would it suit Miz eminently better, it is undoubtedly more like the real-life marines than the implausible version we’ve seen so far in WWE movies.
Ultimately though, to disregard Miz's performance because he doesn't “seem” like enough of a tough guy is absurd.
All the time we see Hollywood actors, who have no military or fighting background of any sort, play CIA agents, soldiers, hit men, etc.; something that is readily accepted by the movie-going audience. You never hear anyone complain about how, say, former teen idol Leonardo DiCaprio isn't a credible cop or secret agent, for example.
And what about the popular Charlie's Angels movie franchise, in which we saw willowy actresses like Cameron Diaz and Lucy Lui lay waste to men twice their size with relative ease?
No one was lining up to point out how patently farfetched and ridiculous this was. And that was way more of a stretch than Miz—a young, well-built man who clearly works out—playing a pugnacious marine.
The Marine 3 probably won’t win any prestigious movie awards or do Avatar-like numbers at the box office (what WWE film will?), but don’t be too surprised if the charismatic, talented Miz manages to shock the critics and churn out a very awesome (pun fully intended) performance in the piece. It certainly wouldn't be the first time he's surpassed expectations, would it?