Every One Of The Rock’s Genre Roles, Ranked (By Rockiness)

Every One Of The Rock’s Genre Roles, Ranked (By Rockiness)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has spent a long career on screens big and small doing what he does best: basically being himself across a litany of characters. But in his sizeable slice of genre roles, climaxing with the long-in-the-making arrival of Black Adam in theatres today, which of his nerdiest credits is also… the Rockiest?

To celebrate the potential changing of the hierarchy of power in the DC universe today, the brightest minds of Gizmodo have taken a look back at the Rock’s filmography to find his roles across sci-fi, fantasy, and other genre characters to find the Peak Rock: the roles where Johnson is less like an actual character in a story, and more just there to essentially Be The Rock. So, without further ado…

19) Charles T. Baker, Planet 51

Image: Sony Pictures

Planet 51 is one of those weird movies that felt like the kind of thing people signed up for when they wanted a third house. In this animated film from 2009, Johnson plays a hapless astronaut who crash lands on a planet full of alien life, and the usual fish-out-of-water/alien-on-Earth hijinks ensue. We’re not saying anyone phoned it in on the voice acting in this film, but it certainly didn’t make anyone a standout. This is the least Rock he’s ever been, as he’s both animated, a wimp, and kind of useless as a character. Without the presence of Johnson on screen, his charisma doesn’t come through, and he loses some of his charm. He tried, sure, but this role is entirely forgettable, considering how much better he is in other roles.

18) Jack Bruno, Race to Witch Mountain

Image: Disney

This remake of 1975 Disney cult classic Escape to Witch Mountain — a movie about two alien kids on the run from a creepy tycoon — rearranges the story a bit to give Johnson the lead role. He plays a Las Vegas cabbie who suddenly finds himself protecting two alien teens; in this version, the aggressors include sinister government agents and alien assassins, so plopping a regular-guy action hero (who happens to be really, really good at driving) at the centre of everything makes more sense in this context.

17) Cliffjumper, Transformers: Prime

Image: Hasbro

For one single episode — because he got killed off, presumably because someone spent a lot of the actor budget on getting the Rock in a booth — the feisty Autobot Cliffjumper got to sound like… well, actually a pretty flat version of Dwayne Johnson. He got much better at voice roles as time went on, but this ain’t it.

16) Hercules, Hercules

Image: Paramount

There have been so many Hercules-centric movies that it’s hard to even remember that Johnson starred in one, but he’s the best thing going in this unremarkable, musclebound action spectacle directed by the now-controversial Brett Ratner.

15) Hank, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Image: Warner Bros.

Perhaps seeking to fill the action-hero shoes of Brendan Fraser, Johnson stepped onto the Journey franchise in 2012. Here he continued to build his family-friendly Rock persona as his character undertakes an adventure having to rescue some kids with his really buff arms and brawn. He was not long out of the wrestling ring and it shows, but it’s definitely not a bad thing, and it signalled that the small screen hero was readying himself to take on the big screen more often.

14) Frank Wolff, Jungle Cruise

Image: Disney

Sporting his trademark khaki clothes with a cute little hat, Jungle Cruise skipper Frank is about as close to a classic Dwayne Johnson character as you can get. That his specialty is telling bad jokes, as informed by the Disney ride the movie is based on, only makes the character feel more on the nose. When Jungle Cruise reveals (spoiler alert) that he’s really an immortal explorer, he takes on an extra, not entirely surprising, almost supernatural feeling.

13) Davis Okoye, Rampage

Image: New Line Cinema

One of the best things about Dwayne Johnson characters is movies come up with really dumb ways to explain why this particular person is so muscular. Take, for example, Rampage, where David Okoye is a primatologist working at a wildlife sanctuary, but oh, he also just happens to be ex-special forces and the only person who can talk to this killer gorilla. That seemingly random, hilarious combination of traits is not-uncommon in terms of Rock roles.

12) Boxer Santaros/Jericho Cane, Southland Tales

Image: Universal

Early on in his career, it was big swing for Johnson to join the cast of Richard Kelly’s follow up to Donnie Darko, a movie that was not fully embraced at the time but has gone on to become a cult hit. In this ahead of its time dystopian sci-fi flick, the Rock plays a big action star who gets wrapped up in a reality-bending conspiracy. What’s wild is that it’s set in a near future America that is celebrity-obsessed and run by outrageous authoritarian officials, pre-dating the current influencer era with unhinged elected officials where the Rock is an action star. This one is super meta.

11) Sarge, Doom

Image: Universal

The Doom movie isn’t great, but it does have a pretty solid outing for the Rock as leader-turned-baddie Sarge, letting Johnson flex a little as both the taciturn badass and then a snarling villain. It’s almost too interesting to be a particularly Rocky role, given the heel turn, but then again: that’s also pretty Rock.

10) Krypto, DC League of Super-Pets

Image: Warner Bros.

Here we have a defining split: Johnson is pretty much just himself as Superman’s canine companion in this year’s animated DC movie, albeit a little more reserved and self-serious in a Superman mould. But also, he’s a dog. Can a dog truly be Rocky, even voiced by the Rock? It’s hard to say, but that makes this a good split between the Rockless and the Rockest.

9) Roadblock, G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Image: Paramount

With his huge muscles and charming personality, Dwayne Johnson is basically a real-life action figure. So to play Roadblock, a member of G.I. Joe, which is based on action figures… well, the casting is pretty spot on. That said, Roadblock’s main attribute is that he has really big guns, so he doesn’t quite live up to the levels of personality we’ve come to expect from Johnson.

8) Spencer and Bravestone, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle/Jumanji: The Next Level

Image: Sony Pictures

The Rock as Smolder Bravestone: perfect, and the role really gives him a chance to show off his comedic chops, pretending to be a kid who suddenly got the strength, charisma, and reputation of the Main Character. It’s genuinely a fantastic performance, and he doesn’t let up the whole time. He gets knocked down a few ranks for having to act as if he doesn’t know his own strength, which isn’t very Rock of him. But he’s also just video game the Rock, aka Jumanji playable character Dr. Xander Bravestone. His smolder, like his eyebrow, is a superpower. Not too far of a stretch there!

7) The Foundation, Fortnite: Battle Royale

Image: Epic Games

Fornite is a strange thing most of the time, but one of its strangest moves saw Johnson become the face and voice of its mysterious Chapter 3 character/Skin, the Foundation. Sure, the Foundation has his own lore, but… it’s Johnson. It’s his face. It’s his voice. The armour even has emblems inspired by Johnson’s own tattoos. It’s your chance to run around the Island as the Rock! Well, at least until they also added him as Black Adam.

6) Derek, Tooth Fairy

Image: 20th Century Studios

Never one to turn away from the outrageously lucrative realm of family-friendly films, Johnson strapped on a pair of wings (and got to share scenes with Julie Andrews!) in this tale of a hockey player sentenced to magical Tooth Fairy duty as a way of redeeming his character flaws. It’s hardly a memorable movie, but it’s wholesome as hell–and offers early-career proof that the Rock has somehow managed to cleave a path through life devoid of cynicism, which might be his greatest superpower.

5) Action Star Dwayne Johnson/Tiny Tim in a Christmas Peril, Young Rock

Image: Universal

In NBC’s Young Rock, Dwayne Johnson plays a grown up machine gun toting Tiny Tim in an action fantasy Christmas movie, who then sorta gets into time travel hijinks with all three versions of his young self in the semi-autobiographical comedy series Young Rock. Which, by the way, follows the future Rock on his campaign trail to be President of the United States.

4) Maui, Moana

Image: Disney

Johnson has fun skewering his beefcake image in this delightful Disney animated musical, which includes Lin-Manuel Miranda tunes for him to croon as the trickster god who helps (and also hinders) the titular heroine on her journey: “Open your eyes, let’s begin/Yes, it’s really me, it’s Maui/Breathe it in/I know it’s a lot/The hair, the bod/When you’re staring at a demi-god!”

3) Teth Adam/Black Adam, Shazam!/Black Adam

Image: Warner Bros.

Looks-wise, there’s never been a character more suited for the intimidating physicality of Dwayne Johnson. He basically is Black Adam, at least on the surface. Beyond that, since Black Adam is an ancient killer, the character himself is much quieter, darker, and very unlike the Johnson we’re used to seeing. That makes it a better performance, but a slightly weird one because it’s so against type.

2) The Scorpion King, The Mummy Returns/The Scorpion King

Image: Universal

The Rockest performance that catapulted the Rock from “that guy who does acting in between wrestling matches” to Leading Man material. Was The Scorpion King franchise good? Debatable. Was the Rock’s performance good? Also, debatable. Was it memorable? Absolutely. He fought, screamed, transformed, flailed around, and did the most he could with that script. He gave it his all, and everyone had to respect the dedication. This is one of the most Rock performances of his life, when he was allowed to be a bad guy and be very good at it. After this film he took steps to curate his “good guy, big muscles’”image a little more, but we love a villain, and we truly appreciate his anti-hero role in this series far more than the snarky but loveable persona he cultivated in later action films.

1) The Pendari Champion, Star Trek: Voyager

Image: Paramount

One of Johnson’s earliest “acting” roles is a high in Rockitude he has yet to top. Born out of a bizarre teamup between the WWE and Voyager as they prepared to air on UPN together, the season six episode “Tsunkatse” throws Seven of Nine into an alien fighting ring in a fight to survive… and her opponent is just The Rock.

Like, literally, he never gets a name, beyond being a Pendari and being referred to as “The Champion.” He’s Dwayne Johnson with a little bit of that classic Star Trek alien forehead prosthetic slapped on. He enters the Rock Bottom itself into Trek canon by performing it on Seven! There can be no Rockier role than space wrestler Rock.

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