Legacies Live Forever
Before John Cena was fighting alongside eagles and vigilantes in Peacemaker, he was rejected for films like Shazam, Deadpool 2 and others in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
When asked if he had been turned down for any other roles before being cast as Christopher Smith aka Peacemaker in 2021's The Suicide Squad, Cena was answered honestly that he had been rejected several times in the past. "I can’t tell you how many superhero roles I’ve been rejected for. Shazam is certainly one. There was a brief try at the Deadpool universe, rejection," Cena told The Happy Sad Confused podcast. Cena clarified that the Deadpool character he tried for was Deadpool 2's Cable, which ultimately went to actor Josh Brolin.
Despite the multiple rejections, Cena didn't lose his sense of humor when discussing the matter, even likening his experiences to the meme of basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo saying "no" repeatedly as a metaphor for how his attempt at Shazam faired. "Shazam was Dikembe Mutombo," he said. "There was a few in the Marvel universe, rejected. But you know, I kept trying."
Luckily for Cena, he finally got a shot at a superhero franchise when he was cast in director James Gunn's The Suicide Squad before receiving his own spinoff show, Peacemaker on HBO Max. Although Peacemaker might be a "spiritual sequel" to The Suicide Squad, Gunn said that the movie isn't required viewing because Peacemaker "fill
you in at the beginning of the show."
Gunn serves as Peacemaker's writer and executive producer and explained how HBO Max let him go "hog wild" when creating the show. "HBO Max, in particular, was a fantastic partner in backing me up anytime we came against a little like, 'I don't know, should you call Batman this?,'" Gunn explained "There was, every once in a while, some questions about that type of stuff, but for the most part, these guys have been fantastic partners, but especially HBO Max was."
The character of Christopher Smith/Peacemaker is unfiltered and boisterous, which is brought to life not not only by Cena's performance but in the writing and tone of Peacemaker. However, Cena believes it is all an act for Smith and likens the character to a persona that a gamer might adopt when playing a first-person shooter. "I just think he is like most loud, brash individuals: they are putting up a front to defend from people to understanding who they really are," Cena explained.
Peacemaker's John Cena Was Rejected for Shazam, Cable, Several MCU Films
He might have worked as Cable, but Brolin is a much better actor.