When news broke of actor Dave Bautista’s eager pursuit of the lead role in Epic Games’ Gears of War film project, gamers were hyped and wondering who could fill out the rest of the cast. On the one hand, it was exciting to hear more news about the Gears of War film, which has been quietly — and slowly — undergoing development, now in its home at Universal. Although precious few details have trickled out from the studio about the film, franchise fans, and appreciators of Bautista’s acting credits in general, are suitably hungry for more details.
When looking to adapt something like Gears, who's better to fill the key roles than wrestlers - the absolute prime target for the cinematic debut of the gruff, diesel-truck-built soldiers, better known as “Gears,” in the Coalition of Ordered Governments, fighting back the nefarious and tenacious Locust Horde. These Gears are reliably prone to grim one-liners, slamming into cover, and a chainsaw bayonet to the chest, all elements which seem perfect for the dramatic range and literal size of some of our top actor picks below.
The Gears of War franchise is framed perfectly for a high-octane, alien-shredding, bombastic sci-fi film franchise. The lengthy backstory and memorable set-pieces of the video games would seemingly translate so easily to the big screen, defining a new epic series from Epic Games, potentially turning the Microsoft console-selling exclusives into box office gold. But, they'd have to make sure to get the casting right for any of it to work, so here's what we think represents the best starter squad for the Gears of War film.
- This Page: Fenix and Dom
- Page 2: Cole Train and Damon Baird
Marcus Fenix – Dave Bautista
This one shouldn't come as a big surprise. Not only is Bautista actively jockeying for the lead, not only is he physically built for it, but his acting chops have been proven in some incredible sci-fi film performances. Originally catching the attention of film-goers with his inspired turn in Guardians of the Galaxy, he demonstrated a brief, but brilliant, serious and ponderous presence in last year’s Blade Runner 2049. Marcus Fenix is going to need not only an imposing physical presence, but a stone-cold serious actor who can express tenacity, grief, and leadership.
If it wasn’t abundantly clear from any photos, Bautista is shaped most readily like most COGs, He tops the character’s height at 6’6” to Fenix’s 6’1”, and arguably matches his weight without the combat gear. Additionally, Bautista represented the WWE at the 2008 Democratic National Convention to help stimulate fan involvement in politics and inspire voter registration, so he certainly steps up to a patriotic duty, an approach which will greatly connect with Fenix’s many years of protective service of the COG faction (let’s just ignore Fenix's court-martial, for now).
And, let’s get real: the man can fight. While the Gears are commonly equipped with all manner of firepower, a major theme in the Gears of War franchise involves the need to get up close and personal, and Bautista has confidently proven his ability to do so. Still holding the longest reign as World Heavyweight Champion in the WWE, a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and even experiencing a brief but successful stint as an MMA fighter, he’s got the goods. While Bautista has yet to lead a big budget film this early in his acting career — he’s only been performing on the big screen for approximately nine years — there’s hardly a better fit to center his copious talents than Gears of War.
Dominic Santiago aka Dom – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Are we still calling him “The Rock?” Well, that name may have to highlight the marquee if Dwayne Johnson gets the role of Corporal Dominic Santiago, aka “Dom,” who, incidentally, serves as Fenix’s rock through the main plot-line of the original Gears of War trilogy. Dom and Fenix are essentially like brothers, childhood friends with a relationship hardened and recontextualized by many years spent fighting alongside each other in war.
Although Bautista and The Rock were both signature wrestlers in the WWE, they’ve technically only ever been in the ring once, in Wrestlemania XX. Fighting on opposite sides, their match positioned The Rock and Sock Connection against Evolution, which featured Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Dave Bautista (wrestling under his moniker, “Batista”). Still, the two wrestlers-turned-actors certainly fought in the same war, so to speak.
Additionally, the two wrestlers are both people of color, a notable rarity in the WWE. Following his wrestling career, The Rock’s stunning charisma and performance skills as a film actor eventually maximized his celebrity status. Getting The Rock involved in a Gears of War film will arguably help deliver a likely box office success, with most of his starring films generally turning a tidy profit; despite that, the actor did win a Razzie award this year for box office bomb Baywatch, a statuette which he accepted with grace and confidence. See? He can obviously act.
And he’s going to need those acting chops if we’re going to get a satisfying melodramatic Maria scene in the finished film.