What does Hollywood do when a movie franchise is going downhill or seems to just be going nowhere? For the past few years there has been one cure for dying franchises and his name is Dwayne Johnson. Starting his career as a WWE wrestler, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson knows what it takes to get fans interested. He quickly climbed to the top of the ticket within the wrestling world and then looked on to a larger audience in the world of feature films. Johnson found his first feature film credit in 2001’s The Mummy Returns. This film saw a bad CGI rendering of The Rock as The Scorpion King and left Johnson with nowhere to go but up. For his second big screen outing he switched gears from playing the bad guy to playing a film's lead protagonist. Oddly enough it was the same character when Johnson reprised his role in The Scorpion King the following year. Even though this film avoided the terrible CGI choices made in the previous film, the ratings didn’t go up and The Scorpion King franchise was left without Dwayne Johnson.
Since then, Johnson has had box office ups and downs while starring in movies such as The Rundown, Walking Tall, Gridiron Gang, Pain & Gain, and Central Intelligence to name a few (and we are still trying to forget Tooth Fairy). He has found the majority of his success in rebooting franchises. Dwayne Johnson stepped into a role originally written for Tommy Lee Jones and revamped the Fast and Furious as Hobbs. He has also revitalized the Journey to the Center of the Earth adding life to another Brendan Fraser franchise. G.I. Joe got The Rock treatment and the rest of Hollywood started to take notice. Johnson has also put his spin on Hercules and is currently working on a Baywatch movie and a Jumanji sequel. Since he seems to have a talent for this, here are 18 franchises we want to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson revive.
1999’s Spawn was a great idea executed poorly. In a time before Avengers, or Batman v Superman, or even Tobey McGuire as Spiderman, comic book movies were an oddity, but then Spawn brought a comic book to the big screen and hopes were high. The movie’s costume design and CGI was at times hard to even look at and the acting wasn’t the most convincing. The story of Spawn focuses on soldier assassin Al Simmons. Simmons is murdered by his own men but enters into an agreement with Satan to do his bidding. As one of the longest running independent comic books of all time there is plenty of source material and a large audience for this movie to get a second chance. With the intense build and action chops needed to pull off a convincing Spawn, Dwayne Johnson has what it takes to make this character into a franchise.
In 1979 Mad Max showed us a post-apocalyptic world, was followed up by two sequels, gained a massive cult following, and has recently been rebooted. In 1995, there was Waterworld. This movie also had a post-apocalyptic setting; however, it was different from Mad Max in that instead of being in a world with a lack of water our characters find themselves in a world with a lack of land. As the remaining humans search for land it becomes known that a young girl possesses a map. This movie failed to do what Mad Max achieved despite having a cast such including Kevin Costner and Dennis Hopper, but it is time for another shot. With Dwayne Johnson taking on the role of Mariner and bringing back some of his Race to Witch Mountain bodyguard skills and today’s achievements in CGI this could become a franchise on par with Tom Hardy’s revival of Mad Max.
There is already a Predator remake in the works at Twentieth Century Fox. Shane Black has signed on to direct and the only actor signed on at this time is Benicio Del Toro. With an action movie of this caliber a cast must have a member that can make the story seem more believable. The 2010 reboot Predators didn’t do as well as producers would have liked due to the fact that in a world with eight foot tall, human-hunting aliens Adrien Brody is hard to believe as a hero and Topher Grace isn’t convincing as an evil mastermind (spoiler warning by the way). Even though Del Toro’s character will more than likely be the main protagonist, Dwayne Johnson could take this film to a new level in action and believability setting the film up to be the first in a new franchise. Johnson could be convincing in a role that fights off and kills several predators before dying himself in a self-sacrificing move. This could give the film the emotional pull it needs to have people anxious for a sequel and free up The Rock to work on more projects in this article.
15 Demolition Man
When talking about actors who have success in franchises one, would be remiss to not mention Sylvester Stallone. With titles such as Rocky, Rambo, and The Expendables there is no denying that the work he takes on is usually deserving of becoming a franchise, but money and time cannot go towards every film. This leaves some films being mostly forgotten in an actor’s filmography; in this instance we are talking about 1993’s Demolition Man. This film followed the story of two individuals, a police officer named John Spartan and a murderer named Simon Phoenix, who are both cryogenically frozen. When Phoenix escapes his cryogenic cell and wreaks havoc in a non-violent future, Spartan must be brought back to deal with him. Dwayne Johnson as the out-of-place, out-of-time policeman brought back to deal with a criminal mastermind played by Chiwetel Ejiofor could be the match of the year. The only thing we ask is that a retelling of this story gives more development to the villain and gives him a reason to fight.
14 Beverly Hills Cop
There once was a time before A Thousand Words, Imagine That, and Meet Dave when Eddie Murphy was a comedy genius. One particular movie that showcases Murphy’s acting chops and comedic ability was Beverly Hills Cop. This movie is quintessential eighties highlighting action/adventure and comedy in the same movie, placing a main character in surroundings that they do not fit in, and wrapping the whole thing up in a buddy cop movie. This movie was so good in fact, that there were two sequels. It seems that in an attempt to revive this franchise there is currently a Beverly Hills Cop 4 in production with Eddie Murphy reprising his role as the top billed actor. We would like to propose a different route. We want to see a buddy cop movie in which Kevin Hart takes on the top billed position and stars alongside Dwayne Johnson, a straight-laced cop, in a reimagining of this eighties classic. Although we may not want to see Eddie as the star of this flick, we would love a cameo.
13 Last Action Hero
Last Action Hero was truly an original by taking the audience (particularly one boy) onto both sides of the screen. When Danny Madigan is given a magic ticket, he is transported into an action movie with one of his favorite characters. Once in the film he loses the ticket to the villains allowing them to cross back over into the real world. Danny and the movie hero Jack Slater, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, must also enter the real world in order to stop them. This movie is an outstanding combination of comedy and action and has great potential with today’s filming industry to become a franchise. Dwayne Johnson playing Jack Slater paired with Emjay Anthony, who blew audiences away with his work in Chef, taking on the role of Madigan could be the magic ticket to get a remake of this movie to the top of the box office. It also wouldn’t hurt to have Sir Ian McKellen reprise his role as Death.
12 Invasion U.S.A
Invasion U.S.A centers on a one-man army fighting to stop an entire terrorist attack in the Florida Everglades. Matt Hunter, played by the one and only Chuck Norris, is a former CIA agent who has taken on a life of solitude after stepping down from his position in the government due to a disagreement with their methods. Hunter had the opportunity to take out a threat but was ordered to take him alive. Years later the threat has risen and amassed a large terrorist army and the hope of the United States falls on Hunter to take out the army single-handedly. In a Red Dawn meets Olympus Has Fallen type of approach Dwayne Johnson can give this franchise a new breath of life by taking on the role of Matt Hunter and taking down the entire terrorist cell alone. This could be Johnson’s Rambo and could set up a Mission Impossible-type franchise.
Superhero movies may be the blockbusters of every summer today, but they didn’t get off to a great start. One movie that did not help get superhero movies to where they are today would be Steel. Steel is in fact a DC Comics character showing that even if you do not like the current DCEU it could be much, much worse. Starring Shaquille O’Neal as John Henry Irons, this movie follows the story of a weapons designer that resigns after seeing the weapons he developed in order to neutralize threats without causing harm turned into very destructive munitions. Shortly after walking away he finds his creations being used by gangs. He decides to take matters into his own hands by creating a suit to clean the streets. We think a revitalization of this franchise could be exactly what DC needs to get back on track with this Ironman meets Luke Cage idea. With Dwayne Johnson dawning the steel suit this has Netflix written all over it.
10 Every Which Way But Loose
Clint Eastwood stars in Every Which Way But Loose as Philo Beddoe, a trucker and prize-fighter in the San Fernando Valley. This film reaches a new height in cinematic history by having Eastwood upstaged by an orangutan. A reboot of this film starring Dwayne Johnson would allow him to show his comedic talent as well as the action for which he is known. This movie could be different than the majority of the action movies in Johnson’s past in that it takes away the guns and gets closer to the roots of his entire career. Beddoe is a prize-fighter in hand to hand combat which would allow The Rock to show off his aptitude for fighting choreography. In an added bonus it would be thrilling to watch Johnson balance a masculine demeanor with an unusually close relationship with an orangutan.
9 Con Air
Con Air seems to be a very polarizing movie. Some people hate it, others absolutely love it. Either way, this movie brought together an outstanding cast with an interesting plot. A remake of this film done right could really help solidify the script and give a fresh take on a great story. Dwayne Johnson as Cameron Poe could be an intense and impactful portrayal as the muscle-bound Rock is forced to beat his enemies mostly with trickery and out-thinking while making them believe he is actually on their side and not simply destroying everyone with brute strength. Don’t get us wrong though, this movie could also incorporate intense fight scenes similar to those seen in Walking Tall. In fact, if we were in charge of this remake we would reunite Johnson with his Walking Tall co-star Ashley Scott playing Tricia Poe and director Kevin Bray.
8 Kindergarten Cop
Releasing in between Total Recall and Terminator 2, Kindergarten Cop was a new challenge for Schwarzenegger. This movie perfectly balanced action and story allowing for a fun family film. Universal and Image Pictures tried to start a franchise with this film releasing a sequel starring Dolph Lundgren in 2016 (26 years after the original). The sequel didn’t sit well with audiences or critics effectively killing any thoughts of a trilogy. The only way this film property could become a franchise would be to do a complete reboot and start from scratch. In order to do this, the lead actor must be able to balance action and family style films, aka Dwayne Johnson. His resume already includes movies such as The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and will soon include Jumanji. If anyone could restart this franchise and be successful, it would be The Rock.
7 Big Trouble In Little China
John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China is a ridiculous, campy, and kind of racist story that follows Jack Burton, played by Kurt Russell on an adventure through a mysterious Chinatown in San Francisco, CA. Although the film has ridiculous fight scenes and lack luster special effects (and at one point what we can only assume is a cave troll/werewolf) the film has decent reviews including a 7.3 on IMDB and an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. These ratings go to show that Asian style martial arts movies don’t come along often enough and people want more. A remake of this movie could easily set up a franchise if done correctly. Dwayne Johnson as a traveling salesman Jack Burton instead of a trucker and turning down the campiness is just the beginning of the changes we would want to see. Choreography and bigger action are necessities. For the villain Lo Pan we would cast no other than the infamous Jackie Chan while Sung Kang would reunite with his Fast and Furious co-star as the character Wang Chi, and of course a cameo from Kurt Russel is a must.
6 Under Siege
Dwayne Johnson as a Navy S.E.A.L.? Yes! Under Siege is the story of former S.E.A.L. Casey Ryback who is now a cook on a U.S. Navy battleship when it is taken by terrorists. In the original film the terrorist cell is led by William Strannix, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Ryback, one of the few people on the ship not killed or taken prisoner, finds that he is the only one capable of stopping the terrorists from turning the warship against the United States. We would love to see Tommy Lee Jones reprise his role as the terrorist mastermind with lackeys to do his bidding. Placed against Tommy Lee Jones as the brains with several others to be the muscle and trapped in the middle of the ocean, Dwayne Johnson would have his work cut out for him in the first film in this franchise.
Timecop centers on Max Walker who is a regulator of time travel. He finds himself the only obstacle standing in the way of a politician who plans to alter the past in order to create his own future. This story has so much potential due to the ability it has to visit well known historical events from a new vantage point or showing them altered which is something that audiences love. The ability to develop characters in this story is also limitless in that the politician, originally played by Ron Silver, could have a vast list of motivation outside of simple power. We could also watch the struggle Max Walker, whom of which we would cast Dwayne Johnson to portray, as he earns the ability to travel through time and the moral obligation not to change the worst parts of his life.
What do you get when you take Harrison Ford, make him a police detective, and drop him into an Amish community? You get Witness. This film has it all; philosophy of violence versus non-violence, crime, drama, romance, the Amish, everything! A police detective is forced to live in an Amish community when the only witness to a murder is a young boy that lives within it. A remake of this film could be different from most of the rest of Dwayne Johnson’s action credentials in that it would pit him to use more mental strength and fighting in order to stop harm from coming to others instead of the usual gun battles and large explosions. This type of character development is what creates action hero franchises, and how better to develop character by dropping a take no prisoners police detective into a non-violent community and forcing him to rethink everything he once believed true in his career.
Not too many people are familiar with this title. Airwolf was a television series in the 1980s that chronicled the adventures of a pilot as he searches for his missing brother. The show was rebooted and had a straight-to-TV movie but never made it to the big screen. It is time that this show receives a 21 Jump Street treatment and gets the opportunity to have a big budget film. Dwayne Johnson’s audition to take on the lead role is already complete in the form of the movie San Andreas. In San Andreas Johnson plays a rescue-chopper pilot who goes into the middle of destruction and devastation as an earthquake rocks California. Where his main goal in San Andreas is to save his daughter (no spoilers as to the mission’s success), Airwolf takes a different route in that it is an ongoing journey where he must go on missions for an intelligence agency in exchange for information about his brother giving this title a greater chance at becoming a franchise.
2 Three Men And A Baby
Johnson did start his career as a professional wrestler and stepped into more serious action movies when he first started working in films. He has shown that he is interested in family friendly comedy as well with films such as Tooth Fairy and The Game Plan. Where these films may have been a step too far into the family friendly realm this reboot could walk the line that entertains parents and children alike. Dwayne Johnson starring alongside Paul Rudd and Ashton Kutcher could be an odd grouping of actors that bring different types of comedy to the screen and if they find chemistry this movie could be a comedy great. Kutcher as an architect, Rudd as an Artist, and Johnson as an actor all living in Manhattan as roommates is enough of a plot for a movie. Throw in them finding a baby that belongs to one of them and the movie could be a classic.
1 The Most Dangerous Game
Many individuals will probably be familiar with the short story The Most Dangerous Game as an entry in their middle school English book. Less people, however, will know that there is a movie from 1932 based off of this book. The story, written by Richard Connell, follows Sanger Rainsford, a hunter who is ship-wrecked on his way home from hunting big game in Africa. Rainsford finds himself on an island where he finds the home of General Zaroff. Rainsford finds Zaroff helpful at first but the tables quickly turn when Zaroff sends him out into the wilderness to be hunted. This is a thrilling and unique story that could easily be brought into the current era. Dwayne Johnson would be more than convincing as the big game hunter. As for Zaroff, Jason Statham, Michael Jai White, Thomas Jane, or Sam Worthington could bring the madman to life. This could kickstart a franchise following Rainsford’s adventures but producers must be careful not to fall into a Taken situation where they make the same movie multiple times.
Sources: IMDB, Classic Shorts, McFarlane
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