Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why We Haven't Seen Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson In The MCU Yet

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, in more ways than one. Standing 6'5" and weighing over 260 pounds, the former pro wrestler dwarfs nearly every one of his Hollywood contemporaries. In addition to his gargantuan physical size, he's also a massive draw at the box office. His movies have grossed over $9.7 billion worldwide, and in 2018 he made more money from acting in a single year than anyone ever

Meanwhile, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest movie franchise in the world. The MCU has changed Hollywood by popularizing the trends of post-credits scenes and cinematic universes, it currently lays claim to half of the ten highest-grossing films ever, and as a whole, the franchise has grossed more than double what its closest competitor — a small, indie series called Star Wars — has managed. 

In other words, Johnson and the Marvel Cinematic Universe seem like a natural fit for each other, and yet, the Rock has yet to appear in an MCU movie. So what gives? Although it may seem strange that the hottest star in Hollywood — who just so happens to also look like a real life superhero — hasn't yet appeared in a Marvel film, there are actually a number of good reasons that could explain why. 

Dwayne Johnson chose DC over Marvel

Marvel's age-old rival is DC Comics, the home of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. After seeing Marvel's success at the box office with an interconnected franchise of superhero movies, DC decided to launch their own cinematic universe with the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) in 2013. The following year, it was announced that Dwayne Johnson would be joining the DCEU, portraying the villainous Black Adam in a Shazam movie. Many were surprised that the Rock was playing a bad guy rather than a superhero, with the assumption being that the larger-than-life star would prefer to be the star of his own DCEU film. Those predictions ultimately proved correct. 

If you've seen Shazam!, which was released in April 2019, then you know Johnson isn't in it. That's because, after meeting with DC brass in 2017 to discuss his role, it was announced that Black Adam was getting his own solo movie. The film has no release date yet, but it's still very much in the works, and it's expected to start filming in 2020

The fact that Johnson will be headlining a DCEU movie greatly reduces his chances of doing the same for Marvel. That's because, while not completely unheard of, it's extremely rare for actors to star in films for both franchises. And when they do, it's generally as side characters moving from one franchise to another (e.g. Zachary Levi playing one of the Warriors Three in two Thor films before moving to the DCEU to play Shazam). We've yet to see a lead actor switch teams, but here's hoping Johnson might be the first.

Johnson is just too busy

The Rock likes to refer to himself as the hardest worker in the room, and it's not just a catchphrase. The guy works all the time. Take a look at his Instagram feed — which he updates constantly — and you'll see he's always either shooting a movie or doing press for a movie. The man just moves from one project to the next non-stop. In 2018, he starred in two blockbusters with Rampage and Skyscraper. In 2019, he's headlining Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw and Jumanji: The Next Level, while also appearing Fighting with my Family, whose production he also spearheaded. 

Next year, Johnson's got Disney's Jungle Cruise and action comedy Red Noticeco-starring his DCEU stablemate Gal Gadot. He also stars on HBO's Ballers, hosts a reality competition he created called The Titan Games on NBC, and has quite a few films in various stages of production. Plus, he's active as a producer on multiple movies, he's working on releasing a tequila, and he's helping design products for his Project Rock collaboration with Under Armour. Plus, he's working out like a beast and raising a family. People's Sexiest Man Alive is Busy with a capital "B," and chances are good that he simply hasn't had the time to work a Marvel movie into his crazy schedule yet.

The MCU won't let Johnson have creative control

As his level of stardom has grown over the last handful of years, so has the Rock's level of influence in Hollywood. Seven Bucks Productions, the studio Johnson founded with his ex-wife Dany Garcia in 2012, has produced every single movie the actor has starred in since 2017's Baywatch. Not only that, but Johnson wields a considerable amount of power over those films. He's very cautious about maintaining his image, and he's known to be pretty inflexible when it comes to certain aspects of his films.

For example, he forced a change to the ending of Rampage so the gorilla wouldn't die at the end. Plus, he broke away from his role in the Fast and Furious franchise to lead his own spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw. Johnson has shown that he likes to be in control of his films, and if there's one studio that's not known for giving up control, it's Marvel. With the exception of the Spider-Man movies — which are produced in coordination with Sony Pictures since they own the film rights to the character — Marvel Studios doesn't share production credit with any other studio. The studio's president, Kevin Feige, has the final say on everything in the MCU, and Johnson may not be willing to cede the control he's become accustomed to just for a spot in a Marvel movie.

It would be too expected for Marvel

Some actors just look tailor-made for their roles. Has there ever been a more James Bond-looking James Bond than Pierce Brosnan? Can you think of a more appropriate man to play the Mountain on Game of Thrones than actual World's Strongest Man Thor Bjornsson? And when it comes to superheroes, who's more qualified to play one than real life superhuman Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson? The Rock has a physique that looks like it was drawn by Rob Liefeld, so it seems like a no-brainer that he should find himself a spot in the MCU. The only problem is, Marvel prefers to go with the unexpected when it comes to their superhero casting.

When the studio needed to cast Star-Lord, the suave leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, they didn't go out and get Chris Pine or James Marsden. They went with Chris Pratt, who at the time was best known as a somewhat schlubby sitcom actor. They also went with funnyman Paul Rudd for Ant-Man, relative unknowns Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston for Thor and Loki, respectively, and they cast the supposedly washed-up, over-the-hill, and problematic Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man — the guy who ended up leading the entire franchise. And although Marvel sometimes does what's expected (Chris Evans is Captain America), the studio may think that casting the Rock as a superhero is a little too on the nose for their brand.

It would be a big commitment for the Rock

Generally speaking, when an actor agrees to star in a Marvel movie, he or she doesn't agree to play in just one film. The MCU is called a "universe" for a reason, and that's because characters from one franchise will often show up in another. For example, in addition to starring in three Captain America movies, Chris Evans also starred in four Avengers films, had cameos in Thor: The Dark World and Spider-Man: Homecoming, and popped up in the post-credits scenes of Captain Marvel. (We're not counting the Civil War cut scene in Ant-Man.) That didn't leave a whole lot of room for other projects, as Evans appeared in just six other movies during his MCU run.

This is the norm for Marvel stars, as the studio famously hands out contracts requiring appearances in an absurdly high number of films. Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon) recently revealed that his original contract with Marvel was for ten movies. That kind of long-term commitment might not work so well for the Rock. As we already said, Johnson is a guy who likes to be in control of his career. After starring as Hobbs in four Fast & Furious movies as part of an ensemble cast, Johnson didn't show up for the ninth film, probably thanks to his feud with Vin Diesel. That kind of maneuvering probably wouldn't work well with Marvel. Plus, with the amount of power he prefers to have and the diverse amount of movies in which he likes to play, can anyone imagine Dwayne Johnson signing a ten picture deal? Yeah, we didn't think so.

The Rock is already a Disney star

Marvel Studios isn't crazy about having its stars show up in DC films, but there's another type of crossover the company doesn't appear to be wild about. Marvel is wholly owned by Disney, and it's just one of the studios that produces films for the House of Mouse (others include Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Disney Animation). In the past few years, the conglomerate has seen a lot of success in their live-action film division, Walt Disney Pictures. It's the branch of the company responsible for all those live-action remakes of animated films, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, and other big budget fare that doesn't fit under any franchise umbrella (like The Nutcracker and the Four Realms). And wouldn't you know it, it's almost completely devoid of Marvel stars.

Since each actor has joined the MCU, no Avenger has appeared in the flesh in a live-action Disney movie (Scarlett Johansson voiced Kaa in The Jungle Book, but she didn't appear on-screen). It's unclear if that's just a coincidence, if it's by design, or if it's because the stars are just too busy from all the Marvel movies they're making. Regardless, it counts as another mark against Johnson, as the actor is starring in Jungle Cruise, a new live-action Disney tentpole film based on the classic Disneyland ride. With Johnson as the skipper of that new potential franchise, the odds are slim that Disney will also want him to headline a Marvel movie.

Johnson may be waiting for the right role

Despite the fact that the Rock is more of a DC guy — he told a fan in 2014 that his favorite superheroes were Black Adam and the John Stewart version of Green Lantern — he's never ruled out portraying a Marvel superhero. But the thing is, all of the marquee Marvel heroes are already taken. So who else is left for a star of Dwayne Johnson's caliber to play? Namor the Submariner? Nova? Moon Knight? These are D-list superheroes, and Johnson is an A-list actor. Does anyone really expect him to suit up as Wonder Man? Not really. So it could be the Rock has just been waiting for a Marvel role to come along that's more in line with his level of stardom.

With Disney's recent purchase of Fox, the film rights to a number of high-profile characters are now eligible to be included in the MCU. That means the likes of the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and others will eventually be sharing the screen with Spidey and the Avengers. It's likely going to be a few years before that day comes, but when it does, Johnson could finally join the MCU as an appropriately-sized hero. Would he want to be a massive Wolverine? A bulky Silver Surfer? Or an au naturale Thing that will save the studio millions in CGI costs? Only time will tell, but as of this moment, the MCU has clearly not offered him what he wants.

The Dwayne Johnson-MCU collaboration could already be in the works

In spite of all the factors working against the Rock joining the MCU, it still seems like there may be something going on between them that we just don't know about yet. When Marvel legend Stan Lee passed away, Johnson shared a touching tribute to his Instagram. At the 2019 MTV Movie Awards, Avengers: Endgame director Anthony Russo joked that Johnson should join the MCU ... as himself. But the most compelling piece of evidence comes in the form of a throwaway line Johnson included in a congratulatory message he shared to Instagram to celebrate Endgame's box office success.

The Rock gushes about Marvel in his three-minute video, showing nothing but love for the studio and name-dropping a lot of people integral to its success. And the biggest name drop has got to be Kevin Feige, the head honcho at Marvel Studios. "I know our assistants have been trying to get us together for dinner for months now," Johnson said in his video. "We're both super busy boys, and I look forward to our schedule linking up."

Can you smell what the Rock is cooking with that quote? If we had to guess what these two busy boys would talk about over dinner, first on the agenda would have to be the prospect of Johnson joining Team Marvel. Just because the Rock hasn't appeared in the MCU yet doesn't mean he's not going to eventually. After all, someone's going to have to play the Thing when Fantastic Four gets rebooted.