If you’re a fan of Marvel or a fan of professional wrestling, you probably like Dave Bautista. Personally, I was always a huge fan of his work in the former. But before he started making it big in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he certainly made a name for himself in the WWE. I never really got into it, but I have respect for the career that Dave Bautista has made in and outside of the pro wrestling ring. And if you think he’s no real threat because the WWE is all scripted, then just remember that Dave Bautista once competed in mixed martial arts. He had one match back in 2012 and won by TKO in the first round. Plus, just look at the man. He’s freaking huge.
I think that’s why James Gunn wanted him to play Drax the Destroyer in his 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy movie. For me, my only concern was that the guy playing Drax wasn’t really known for his acting ability. Sure, he was a big and very muscular man, and since Drax is a big and physical character, casting him did make sense. However, his size still doesn’t mean he has the acting chops to pull off a well-liked Marvel hero.
Well, we all know how his performance turned out when we saw the movie. It was good, plain and simple. And with each subsequent sequel that involved Dave Bautista, his performance as Drax only improved. And now, it’s almost impossible to think of Drax without associating him with Dave Bautista. He has to be one of the most quotable characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, very much to the point where I can probably make a top ten list of Drax quotes. Dave Bautista has not only made Drax intimidating, but also surprisingly funny. And what’s best about it is that he doesn’t have to put much goofy enthusiasm behind it like Ryan Reynolds does with Deadpool.
Taking on the role of Drax was the beginning of Dave Bautista’s growth as an actor. The thing is, he worked as a strong supporting character in Guardians of the Galaxy. Before Drax and Guardians, he was never really leading man material. In fact, I can’t really remember what other movies he was in before Guardians of the Galaxy, at least ones that I’ve seen. One of his earliest roles was an antagonist role in one of the Scorpion King sequels, which I barely remember. A year before Guardians of the Galaxy, he once again took on an antagonist role in the 2013 Riddick movie.
His role as Diaz was a supporting antagonist, and a typical one for a guy his size. He was the muscle for Jordi Molla’s mercenary group and didn’t do much other than being intimidating and saying snarky things. Not much of a role, but he did go toe-to-toe with Vin Diesel’s Riddick. That was at least cool to see, but it seemed like Dave Bautista was stuck in playing those big and scary villain roles.
Thankfully, he broke that typecasting when he took on the role of Drax. At least as Drax, he was able to talk. He began as an angry and vengeful warrior who was only funny with his utter cluelessness, but he eventually became a stronger character. Not only was he more intentionally funny, but he was actually aware of it and took it upon himself to crack more jokes. I think at this point, he’s made us laugh more than Rocket.
Now again, Dave Bautista has been killing it as Drax, but I’m still wondering something. So his performance as Drax has only gotten better over the years, but does that mean he’s growing as an actor? I would say so, but does that also make him a strong enough actor to carry his own movies? He’s never been known as an ideal leading man, but his recent movies have allowed him to work on becoming one. If you’ve seen Stuber or My Spy, those are the best examples. However, those movies are also not very good. That’s not because of him, in fact, he was good in them. But when I watched them, I just didn’t feel like he was strong enough leading man.
Even though I wasn’t a fan of those movies, I do think Dave Bautista grew stronger as an actor with them. They at least gave him a chance to be something other than the quiet and scary antagonist that he usually plays. Ever seen the 2016 martial arts movie, Kickboxer: Vengeance? Those are the kinds of movies where Dave Bautista is the right guy to play that kind of antagonist. He most definitely fits those roles, but again, they’re not the kind of roles to enhance his acting skills.
With Drax, and with his recent leading roles, Dave Bautista is starting to become a better actor. Now if you asked me a week ago if he was a strong enough actor to carry his own movie, I probably would’ve been unsure. But guess what? I just watched Army of the Dead and now I want more movies with Dave Bautista as the leading man.
Unlike Stuber and My Spy, Army of the Dead is the kind of movie that suits Dave Bautista as a leading man. He wasn’t the big guy who was trying to be funny, very far from Stuber and My Spy. His character from Army of the Dead was a more serious character, while taking full advantage of the Dave Bautista-like macho man action star. He cracked jokes, but none of it was forced. And when it was time to get serious, he made it serious. The best moments were between him and his daughter. The whole movie is basically him rebuilding his relationship with his estranged daughter. This is a zombie movie, so you can probably guess what happens that causes that rift between them. Spoiler alert: he had to put his zombie wife down and his daughter saw it.
Doesn’t that happen in every zombie movie? Still, it led to some serious Dave Bautista moments, where he was surprisingly good. Not bad for a guy who didn’t begin his career as an actor. But what are your thoughts, Dave Bautista fans? Do you think he is capable of leading his own movies? I say bring them on.