54-year-old Dave Bautista is arguably living his best days in Hollywood. The former World Wrestling Entertainment champion has been appreciated for his efforts in some of the most successful blockbusters in recent years, becoming one of the most important pro wrestlers — if not the most important — who transitioned from the squared circle to the movie business.
In his latest assignment, Bautista portrays Leonard in the M. Night Shyamalan-directed Knock at the Cabin, the live-action adaptation of Paul G. Tremblay’s 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World. Bautista’s schedule looks pretty busy as he’s already attached to return as Glossu Rabban in the sophomore part of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, besides reprising Drax the Destroyer in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Here is a closer look at some of the best Dave Bautista movies.
Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
One of Bautista’s most significant challenges was establishing himself as a credible actor for his acting skills and not being relegated to the role of a former WWE wrestler that always portrays the same character in all the movies they do. Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Guardians of the Galaxy installment cemented Dave Bautista in the movie business as Drax the Destroyer, a warrior that seeks revenge for his family but also shows sensitivity for his friends. The live-action adaptation also turned Drax’s original green color to grey to avoid similarities with the Hulk.
The James Gunn-directed movie was a huge box-office success with more than $773 million, spurred two sequels, and established a still-lasting collaboration between Bautista and Gunn. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be Bautista’s last MCU appearance, as the actor stated he wants to move on from the role.
Mr. Hinx in Spectre (2015)
Even during his WWE stint, Bautista never hid he loved to play the bad guy. In Spectre, Bautista showed worldwide how he earned his nickname “The Animal” by portraying the hulking Mr. Hinx, Spectre’s top assassin. Bautista put all his years of physical training to work in what might arguably be his most iconic character, an almost-unstoppable killing machine. Only James Bond (Craig) could stop him.
Spectre is the twenty-fourth James Bond movie and the second-highest grossing in the franchise after Skyfall, with $880 million worldwide. The iconic train fight scene between Bond and Hinx represents one of the most entertaining duels in the whole franchise, and not only.
Sapper Morton in Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
A sequel to the Ridley Scott-directed 1982 masterpiece, Blade Runner 2049 took up the story of the Blade Runner replicants and the implications of what it means to be a human. While critics simply loved Denis Villeneuve’s film, which earned two Academy Awards, Blade Runner 2049 wasn’t as successful as expected at the box office.
Bautista didn’t suffer the pressure of working side-by-side with Hollywood royalty like Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, putting on an excellent performance as the Nexus 8 replicant Sapper Morton. The cast included Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, and Jared Leto, among others.
Scott Ward in Army of the Dead (2021)
Over the years, Bautista expressed his desire to work with a successful director like Zack Snyder on several occasions. The first — and only, for now — collaboration between the two went down in Army of the Dead, a zombie heist movie that Snyder conceived as the Dawn of the Dead spiritual successor. In the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, the mercenary Ward must recover $200 million from a Las Vegas casino before the military nuke the city.
While it received average reviews from critics, the public generally appreciated Army of the Dead for its humor. The upcoming anime-style Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas series will focus on the backstory of Bautista’s character, which is particularly appreciated by critics and fans alike.
Duke Cody in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)
Following the critical and commercial success of 2019’s Knives Out, Netflix bought the rights for its sequels. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery featured the return of Daniel Craig as private investigator Benoit Blanc, dealing with a mysterious assassin who wants to kill tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Duke Cody (Bautista) is a Twitch personality and men’s rights activist who happens to be one of Bron’s closest friends but has more than a reason to resent his wealthy friend. Bautista was simply perfect in a not-so-much-hidden parody of the Andrew Tates of our times.
Although arguably not as brilliant as the first movie, fans and critics enjoyed the Knives Out sequel, which is currently running for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. The cast involved Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, and Madelyn Cline, among others.