It was nearly a year ago that we reported on the possibility of WWE legend and burgeoning movie star John Cena starring in a Paramount adaptation of the Duke Nukem video game series. Now, Variety reports that Paramount is no longer involved—maybe they actually played a Duke Nukem game?—and that producer Jean-Julien Baronnet is. That’s good news for the movie, as Baronnet has experience in this field, but bad news for us, because that experience includes 2016's shitty Assassin’s Creed movie.
Also, as we previously noted, the Duke Nukem hasn’t really aged well into our current culture, as its parodical riff on ‘80s action heroes often wore the guise of satire more than it actually, well, satirized. The story of a beefy, cigar-chomping alpha male tasked with ridding the world of lethal aliens, it tended to lean hard into caricatures or strippers and schoolgirls, many of whom you can kill at your leisure. If you’re not depressed enough today, see the Duke Nukem “Babes” wiki for more information.
All that said, a film adaptation, especially one with the hilarious, physically perfect Cena, has all the potential to be awesome, so long as it pairs the series’ over-the-top action with a healthy dose of self-awareness. Based on the quotes provided by the producers, however, that might not be the direction in which they’re heading.
“He’s a parody of 1980s action heroes and he’s like Deadpool in terms of being able to break the fourth wall,” Gearbox Software’s Sean Haren said, dropping the dreaded Deadpool comparison. “We see a lot of humor in his confronting the values of today while trying to save the world.”
Baronnet added, “Duke is exactly the kind of very blunt character that we need in the world today.”
Is he, though?