Casting Braun Strowman and 7 WWE Superstars as Marvel Superhero Movie Characters
Friday saw the widespread release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to much fanfare from an audience that loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Even those who may not be the biggest fans of Iron Man, Captain America and the other Marvel superheroes but are heavily into sports entertainment might find themselves interested in this particular installment, though.
Reprising his role as Drax the Destroyer is Dave Bautista—former WWE champion Batista—who legitimized his acting career in this film's predecessor.
In a different era, wrestlers and Hollywood did not mesh too well, much like oil and water. While one would think the two fields would blend perfectly, they often clashed as WWE Superstars weren't seen as real actors and, more often than not, also didn't have the talent to back up their casting.
Time and time again, wrestlers were relegated to either comedic roles such as Hulk Hogan in Mr. Nanny or their physical prowess is exploited for intimidation's sake like the casting of Robert Maillet (known as Kurrgan in WWE) as a monstrous villain in Sherlock Holmes.
But in The Rock, Batista and even John Cena, WWE's talent pool is having much more success crossing over into mainstream movies instead of just being limited to WWE Studios productions.
As Batista has several more films in his future as Drax and The Rock awaits production to start for his turn as Black Adam in the DC Extended Universe, it's interesting to think of some other wrestlers who could be cast as superheroes and pull the roles off.
Keep in mind this is just a thought exercise and not a legitimate casting call to say only these wrestlers could bring these characters to life on the big screen—there are always other options.
However, let's take a look at some WWE Superstars who could follow in Bautista's footsteps and become well-cast members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Braun Strowman as Hercules
Even if you aren't familiar with comic books, you are likely at least somewhat knowledgeable about the character of Hercules.
Very much in the vein of Thor, Marvel's version of the classic mythology regarding Hercules deviates slightly from the source material in order to fit more into the world of superheroes.
Generally speaking, though, he has the same attributes he always does: strong, tall, muscular, bearded and, in today's world, would come off socially awkward.
WWE's answer to Hercules is clearly The Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman.
Obviously, above and beyond any reasons to cast him in the role would be his physical presence, as there are few people in the world who could pull off a convincing God of strength character as well as Strowman.
In the comics, Hercules is often used as a parallel for Thor because of their similar literary origins, strength being a primary tool to fight foes and living in unearthly realms.
For someone to be imposing enough to stand next to Chris Hemsworth and seem like a threat is a tough task, but while Strowman's and Hemsworth's are only one month apart in age, Strowman stands at 6'8" while Hemsworth is 6'3".
Strowman has no acting experience outside of WWE, but given how entertaining he has been on Raw the past few months, he could definitely portray the Greek and Roman hero—so long as he ditches the lust for attacking babyfaces.
Sheamus as Scorpion
Sheamus is unlike most of the names on this list as he has experience acting in a comic book movie after turning in a performance as Rocksteady in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
For a film as flawed as that was, he was one of the better parts of it given the material he had to work with.
In the past, Sheamus has spoken of his fondness of similar characters, telling The National he wanted get involved in the Star Wars series (h/t Bill Pritchard of Wrestlezone) and throwing his name in the hat for the role of Eddie Brock in the upcoming Venom film at Wizard World Comic Con (h/t Mike Mack of Movie Pilot).
While he may want to don the symbiote, there may be a better costume he is more suited to put on when it comes to Spider-Man villains: that of Mac Gargan, also known as Scorpion.
For those unfamiliar with the character, Scorpion is one of Spider-Man's primary adversaries who has yet to make it to the silver screen.
In some incarnations, he is just a man in a mechanical suit, while other versions have him as a failed clone of Peter Parker. For a stretch in the comics, he was even a different Venom, so that would pair up nicely with Sheamus's preferences.
Scorpion is an imposing brute who doesn't necessarily have to be from any particular background, so while most of the Spider-Man series takes place in New York, Sheamus' Irish accent wouldn't be an issue.
Going from a rhino to a scorpion seems like a lateral move, but going from a somewhat failed film to the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel would be a massive step up for The Celtic Warrior.
Erick Rowan as Rhino
Based off the references to a rhinoceros in the Sheamus entry, a WWE Superstar on the roster named Rhyno and the fact Erick Rowan seems much more fascinated with sheep, this may seem very confusing.
Just like Scorpion in the previous section, Rhino is one of Spider-Man's most frequent enemies and poses an immense physical threat to the nimble hero.
The character was momentarily on screen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, wherein Paul Giamatti played the more mechanical version of the villain, which is in contrast to how Rowan could be best utilized.
Most of the time, Rhino is a hulking man trapped inside a suit that just so happens to be gray with a horn on the head.
This is, of course, ridiculous, but so is professional wrestling.
The only way to have the comic book version of Rhino in a movie is to have someone as large as Rowan inside the suit so producers wouldn't even have to worry about anything else when it comes to casting.
The character isn't a talker, and neither is Rowan, so since his only purpose is destructive action sequences, Rowan's background in WWE would translate extremely well to stunt coordination for the part.
Lana as Silver Sable
Rounding out the Spider-Man characters on this list is Silver Sable, who straddles the lines between hero, antihero and villain.
While some aspects of the character's history may change from different stories, the basic plot points are that she is a highly skilled mercenary with a stereotypical comic book female figure and long silver hair.
Clearly, Lana has the physical attributes down, but on top of this, she has the proper background to play the role's other qualifications too.
One of the wrestlers on this list with the most acting experience, she has already been in an action film: 2016's Interrogation.
Silver Sable is from the fictional Eastern European country of Symkaria, while the Lana character is an extension of C.J. Perry's roots. While Silver Sable's nation is located on the border of Dr. Doom's Latveria, Perry spent time in the real-world Latvia.
She is the perfect age to play the part of the bounty hunter if the collaboration between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures ever decides to incorporate Silver Sablinova into the MCU down the line.
John Cena as Sentry
Pictured above is John Cena at the premiere of his latest film, The Wall, in which he plays an injured soldier perpetually on the verge of being killed by a sniper.
Normally, Cena is in a much different position, having developed an overly dominant persona dubbed by the WWE Universe as Super Cena.
Funnily enough, one of the best characters he could portray in the MCU would be Sentry—Marvel's answer to DC's Superman.
Sentry is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel pantheon, able to defeat even The Incredible Hulk—someone whose strength has no limits.
Stopping the unstoppable is something Cena has done for a decade in WWE, so this would be no strange sight to witness.
He has the musculature to seem over the top, and with a golden wig of long, flowing hair and a yellow body suit, Cena would certainly be a striking image of someone you wouldn't want to mess with.
For additional points, this would finally give us the Cena heel turn we've wanted to see for years, as Sentry is one of Marvel's most powerful villains.
The heroic side of the character is Robert Reynolds—a man so obsessed with saving as many people as possible that he has a computer system determine the most efficient way to be a hero around the clock.
However, he is one side of the coin that also contains his other half, The Void, which is the equal and opposite reaction to all of his heroics. For everything positive he does with his "power of one million exploding suns," The Void will do something evil.
Seeing Cena cut loose to play the do-gooder and its villainous counterpart would be amazing and probably therapeutic for a man who seems to always do what is right no matter what the situation is.
Roman Reigns as Beta Ray Bill
Admittedly, this casting decision is a bit of a stretch, but it would be the type of decision that works well despite how it initially comes off as too ludicrous of an idea.
After several movies, Thor has become a more household name in pop culture. The average fan may not know too many specifics, but most people can tell you he is a long-haired alien god with a cape and a magic hammer that most people cannot pronounce the name of, Mjolnir.
If you take those same basic ideas and replace Hemsworth's leading-man good looks with a more equine face, you have Beta Ray Bill.
Far from an obscure character to fans of the comics but certainly not someone an outsider would be familiar with, Beta Ray Bill is a horse-faced alien who wears exactly the same costume as Thor and has his own magic hammer, Stormbreaker.
As of 2017, Beta Ray Bill's only movie adaptation was the animated film Planet Hulk, which drew inspiration from a comic book storyline of the same name.
In that story, Hulk is in gladiatorial combat on another planet and fights Beta Ray Bill, which is going to be adapted in part in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok film, with Thor taking Bill's spot.
This means the ridiculous-sounding premise is fully within the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that having a horse-faced superhero isn't far off from happening.
On the same page as the Hercules situation, Beta Ray Bill needs to be portrayed by someone who can stand toe-to-toe with Hemsworth as an equal. Roman Reigns is the same height and has a similar musculature.
Judging by his promos, Reigns still has problems with mic skills, but this character wouldn't require the most Oscar-worthy performance, so he's off the hook in that regard.
Slap a helmet and some horse prosthetics on his head and paint his skin a golden hue, and this could be the perfect character for Reigns to step into the acting world without having a role he can't handle portraying.
Xavier Woods as Bill Foster
Speaking of the wilder side of Marvel, anybody who has seen Ant-Man will be familiar with the size-changing titular superhero.
In the comics, it isn't just Hank Pym and Scott Lang who have those abilities like in the movies but several others attain similar powers, one of which being Bill Foster.
Named in an era when political correctness wasn't as prominent, Foster took on the alias of Black Goliath before switching over to just Goliath or, at times, Giant-Man.
Ant-Man was one of Marvel's funnier movies, focusing heavily on banter between the actors in nearly every scene.
With that in mind, if Bill Foster were introduced into the MCU in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp, someone like Xavier Woods could easily do the character justice.
To look more like the comic book version, he would have to trim his hair to a less wild style, but Woods has both the comedic timing and the intelligence to back up Foster's traits.
Woods is the most reliably charismatic member of The New Day, a stable that has become the most popular tag team in years primarily on its members' vibrant energy and the fun atmosphere they bring to the table.
Likewise, sparring with Paul Rudd and Michael Pena would be something Woods would be at home doing, but he'd also be able to embrace his inner nerd that he illustrates when he references things such as Power Rangers and Dragon Ball Z.
As many superheroes are, Foster is a brilliant scientist even before he gains the ability to grow to the size of a building.
While Woods is going for his PhD in educational psychology rather than studying the biochemical field, his sheer mental acuity, combined with his fun-loving eccentricities, would make him a fantastic candidate to join the crew.
Those are some ideas, but do you have any others you'd like to share? Toss out some suggestions in the comments below.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.