Could the Doctor Manhattan of HBO's Watchmen series be played by WWE's Doctor of Thuganomics, John Cena? Currently in Watchmen, a new vigilante conspiracy is rising the United States, with the resurgence of the mysterious white supremacist group known as the 7th Kavalry and the presence of a powerful old man harboring many secrets. Elsewhere, Adrian Veidt is planning some sort of apocalyptic new scheme and Laurie Blake is operating as a jaded FBI agent that carries a giant dildo around in its own special briefcase. Dr. Manhattan is confirmed as currently residing on Mars, and the citizens of Earth can "contact" him using novelty phone booths. As suggested by Watchmen's trailer, however, Manhattan will likely have a far bigger role in the series than making giant Martian sandcastles.
Enter (possibly) John Cena. First coming to prominence as a wrestler in the WWE, Cena followed the Dwayne Johnson route to Hollywood and has forged an impressive movie career for himself, while still making sporadic appearances in the ring. Strong turns in Blockers and Bumblebee have led to Cena being cast in bigger productions such as James Gunn's The Suicide Squad and an upcoming Fast & Furious installment. As Cena's stock as an actor continues to rise, could he have a secret starring turn as Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen?
Cena began stoking these rumors in November 2017, posting a picture of Manhattan to his Instagram page, although it's worth noting that the 16-time world champion is renowned for frequently uploading out of context images with no explanation to his social media. Pre-production on Watchmen had already begun by this point, so initial casting conversations would've been taking place around this time. Although little has been heard since, Watchmen's most recent offering, "She Was Killed By Space Junk," included a scene with a piece of pop art that depicted the original Watchmen superheroes, finally giving viewers their first look at the new Doctor Manhattan up close. The image certainly bears a fair resemblance to a digital, blue, hairless Cena, although the actor obviously looks drastically altered from his usual self.
Usually, a film or TV show featuring John Cena would be keen to take advantage of the actor's brand familiarity in its marketing campaign, but Watchmen has been very non-traditional in this regard so far. Viewers have literally only just learned for sure that Jeremy Irons is playing an older Ozymandias, whereas other networks might've been tempted to use that lure of a major returning character in its promotional material. Watchmen has instead prioritized keeping its many secrets above advertising the show and, for this reason, it's entirely plausible that John Cena could be some kind of secret special guest star playing Doctor Manhattan.
It's also somewhat curious that no other actor has been announced as portraying Doctor Manhattan in the new Watchmen series. The trailers reveal that the superhero is definitely featured in the show, and his glowing blue form is seen from afar in the series premiere. Why hide the actor playing him unless it's a surprise big name? Cena certainly has the physique to be the live-action Manhattan but, on the other hand, is very unlikely to get his genitals out on TV, given the wrestler's young WWE following. There are ways around this, of course, with clever camera angles and stunt penises just two of the options available to preserve Big Match John's dignity. The biggest question is whether Cena's initial Doctor Manhattan tease was legitimate, or whether he's merely been playing up to rumors already doing the rounds.
Watchmen continues with "If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own" November 10th on HBO.