John Cena Says He Was Rejected For Roles In 'Shazam,' 'Deadpool' & Several Marvel Films

John Cena has seemingly fully embraced his first superhero role as Peacemaker in both “The Suicide Squad” and the just-released HBO Max series, “Peacemaker.” I mean, the guy shows up to interviews dressed as the character. It’s clear the actor is excited about finally getting a mainstream superhero role. And in a new interview with the Happy. Sad. Confused. podcast, that enthusiasm seems to stem from the fact that he’s been rejected for several big superhero roles over the years. That is, until James Gunn came along.

When it was first announced that Warner Bros. was looking into doing a “Shazam” film, fans immediately thought John Cena would be great in the role. The actor sure did, as well. But as he explained. ‘Shazam’ is just one of the superhero projects on the long list of rejections he’s had in his career.

LISTEN: ‘Peacemaker’: Has The James Gunn Formula Run Out Of Steam In His ‘Suicide Squad’ Spinoff? [The Playlist Podcast]

“I can’t tell you how many superhero roles I’ve been rejected for,” said Cena. “‘Shazam’ is certainly one. There was a brief try at the ‘Deadpool’ universe . Rejection…There was a few in the Marvel Universe. Rejected. But I kept trying.”

He added, “I read all those scripts, and I read all those parts. I was thinking, ‘Man, I really think I can add to this.’ And then rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection. But the lows make the highs high. And the crazy thing was, I wasn’t first on the list for Peacemaker. James had a long list.”

And then it came to James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad.” Cena explained that he always has to read a script first before signing onto something, but with Gunn, he let that rule slide.

“I always have to read it. James Gunn is the only person who gets a free pass,” he said. “The only reason he gets a free pass is his reputation as a storyteller.”

READ MORE: James Gunn Teases A New DC TV Project After ‘Peacemaker’

Obviously, that worked out, as Cena is now Peacemaker in both a major film and a new HBO Max series. And judging by his excitement and Gunn’s desire to explore more with the character, we’re likely to see Cena’s Peacemaker have more adventures in the future. So, perhaps all that rejection was worth it in the end.

“Peacemaker” is now available on HBO Max.