There is arguably no manlier man in video games than the notorious Duke Nukem. This mountain of envious testosterone is the epitome of what every cool guy should be. Well, that was the case up until 2011. I’ll be honest, that was the last game of that franchise that I played. That is one of the few very popular video game franchises that I just didn’t get a chance to keep up with. I mean, why focus on that franchise when you have others like Pac-Man and Kirby? Point proven.
But hold on, did 2011’s Duke Nukem Forever really tarnish the reputation of the franchise and the character? Perhaps, but I think it’s more important to emphasize on the original games. That is when the character was in his heyday so to speak. What was there not to like about Duke Nukem? At the time, the character basically represented what every ’80s movie action hero was. If you’re unfamiliar with the character and the franchise, just remember what Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were like in their prime. Almost every character they were wore a tank top that put their bulging muscles on display and they had a knack for dishing out very corny one-liners.
You know what? Even today, that stuff is still funny. If you can’t appreciate that, then please go watch more classic ’80s action movies. All of that was the direct inspiration behind the creation of Duke Nukem. He’s every Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone character meshed into one, charismatic, one-liner dishing machine. So where did it all go wrong? Well, let’s just say, the 2011 game was about ten or fifteen years too late. It felt like an old trend that was just spontaneously thrown out for the sake of banking on nostalgia. And as for the main man himself, he actually felt like a has-been trying to be cool again. Have you ever seen a once hunky and popular guy trying to hit on chicks many years after his heyday? Nuff said.
So Duke Nukem Forever was probably one of the biggest video game disappointments from the last decade. Was that the end of Duke Nukem? It really did seem like it, because Gearbox never tried to make another attempt. I think it’s one of those situations where something that was so once cherished should just be left alone. If it can’t be fixed or improved, then why meddle with it any further? Well, there is an alternative. If we can’t get another Duke Nukem game, why can’t we have a live-action movie?
It has been reported that the titular hero will be given the movie treatment. Let’s just throw this out there, this news shouldn’t really surprise anyone. This is one of the most popular characters in video game history. There is just so much you can do with this character and it’s something a good director and writer can have fun with. Helming the project is Josh Heald, Hayden Schlossberg, and Jon Hurwtiz, the creators and showrunners of the Cobra Kai series. I think we should just throw it out there and say that this should be a good fit. If these guys can carry on The Karate Kid and make it something that the new generation can follow, then I believe they can do something good with Duke Nukem.
And how would that work exactly? What made the first Duke Nukem game work so well in 1991 was the fact that it helped kick off the first-person shooter genre. What’s the story? Just a muscular action hero running around shooting aliens invading the Earth. Nothing you haven’t seen before, right? Well, the difference between these games and those other things is that the former has Duke Nukem. That makes all the difference in the world. Okay, so we just have to point out what will make this movie work. What made the original Duke Nukem games so popular was that they were so over-the-top. What’s better is that they were over-the-top in a good way.
The titular hero was just so facetious and self-indulgent all the time, we just couldn’t get enough of it. In a way, he was a narcissistic meathead. But on the other hand, he was an unstoppable powerhouse. The fact that he kept on dishing out the one-liners just make him funny on top of it. Front kicking an alien to pieces and saying something clever every time was the basis of the action for those games. It made little sense, but it didn’t have to. All the games just went all out with the crazy action and at the time, it all felt so rare. That is one of the elements the movie needs to capitalize on. Oh, but it can’t just stop there.
Probably the best level in Duke Nukem Forever was when the titular hero was stuck in a strip club. Sure, it was all the dream, but it was still a fun level. That was a level where you could just mess around and do the things you would expect Duke Nukem to do. The whole thing revolved around his massive ego and his fanbase. Of course, the bulk of that fanbase was a lot of hot women practically worshipping him. The fact that there was a mission where you basically had to go on a scavenger hunt for a stripper was just so Duke Nukem. The bottom line, everything about this character is so over-the-top, it’s basically a part of the franchise. It’s like a key ingredient in a recipe.
And just like the games, the movie needs exactly that. But hold on, who should be the actor to play the titular hero? Gearbox did have one particular actor in mind several years ago and his name is John Cena. After seeing him act in Peacemaker, I can honestly say that he could be a good fit. John Cena knows how to be the big and bad action hero while being charismatic. All he needs is a pair of sunglasses and to bleach his hair and he should have a chance. I personally think John Cena should be the number one candidate to play a live-action Duke Nukem. If there’s anyone who can do it better, then I’d like to see it.
As long as the movie follows what made the first games so popular, it should work. How can it possibly deviate from that and try to become something else? When it comes to video game movies, Hollywood always finds a way to make them not work. Hopefully, that won’t be the case for the Duke Nukem movie. What are your thoughts, gamers?