John Cena has entered talks to star in the Duke Nukem video game movie adaptation, with Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form's Platinum Dunes banner producing. Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford confirmed that a film based on the Duke Nukem game series was in development at E3 last year, but the project has been on radio silence since then.
The Duke Nukem character is an amalgamation of 1980s musclehead action hero tropes who spends his days fighting off not so friendly extraterrestrials who have attacked and invaded earth. A film adaptation of the Duke Nukem franchise was first proposed back in the late 1990s by producer Lawrence Kasanoff, following his success with the big screen adaptation of Mortal Kombat. Plans for the film were then formally announced in 2001, with Kasanoff's banner Threshold Entertainment producing.
Neither Kasanoff's proposed Duke Nukem movie nor the adaptation put in motion by producer Scott Faye (Max Payne) in 2008 ever made it past pre-production. THR is reporting that Platinum Dunes is now readying to make a go at bringing the character to life itself, with Cena lined up as its star. The project doesn't have a director attached at the moment, but the search for a screenwriter is underway, with the idea being that they will fashion the movie as a starring vehicle for Cena. Duke Nukem the film was previously set up at Dimension Films but is now pitching its tent at Paramount - the same studio that Bay has directed five Transformers movies and produced two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films for already.
Cena has quietly set up camp at Paramount, having already appeared in the studio's hit comedy sequel Daddy's Home 2 as well as the first Daddy's Home (counting his last minute cameo in that movie). He is also slated to appear in this December's Transformers spinoff Bumblebee: The Movie, which has traded out Bay for Kubo and the Two Strings helmsman Travis Knight in the director's chair. Before that, however, Cena will costar in the raunchy comedy Blockers that Universal has lined up to arrive this April.
Duke Nukem, with his comical sense of hyper masculinity and ridiculous physical stature, has only become more of a tongue in cheek parody with time, culminating with Duke being able to protect himself from harm by (literally) using his ego as a shield in 2011's long-delayed Duke Nukem Forever. Like fellow wrestler turned movie actor Dwayne Johnson, Cena has a knack for using his daunting physicality for comedic effect - a skill that ought to serve him well, when it comes to playing Mr. Nukem.
More on the Duke Nukem live-action movie as it becomes available.