An EW Investigation: Are all of Dwayne Johnson’s characters the same person?
The Rock Cinematic Universe
Have you ever felt a calling? Like you were placed on Earth for one specific reason. Well, that’s the feeling I got when tasked with answering one of humanity’s greatest questions: Are all of Dwayne Johnson’s characters the same person?
I’ve always been a ride or die Rock fan, a Professor of Rockology, if you will. But even for me, this investigation was quite the undertaking. Don’t get me wrong, there were clear signs that these characters could all be the same guy. I mean, in almost every movie, he goes by a name that's between three and five letters, making it easy for him to remember, which is important since he’s constantly changing it. And also, he’s got a pretty consistent look (those three pics are from three different movies).
But after months of research and late-night Rockathons, I believe I have the definitive evidence to prove that these are not separate movies but actually the extended story of an ageless hero. So ahead of the release of Skyscraper, the latest chapter in this epic man's life, welcome to The Rock Cinematic Universe.
The Mummy Returns/The Scorpion King
Like Johnson’s film career, it all begins with Mathayus/The Scorpion King.
The ancient warrior soon learns he is the son of Zeus, making him a demigod, which will explain how his skin looks so nice and oily for thousands of years.
Tired of the hot desert and having to kill people, he decides to head for the water and a much more relaxing lifestyle. He achieves this by shapeshifting into a new demigod, Maui.
With Moana mastering the water and Maui's job done, he hopes to capitalize on the success of "You're Welcome" and pursue his dream of becoming a singer. So he shapeshifts back into his Hercules form (but with a haircut) and heads to Los Angeles. Once there, he signs with a manager named Raji (Vince Vaughn) and works as his bodyguard (using his ancient warrior skills) until he makes it big. And by the end of Be Cool, he does just that, as Chili (John Travolta) drives by a billboard advertising our man's new movie with Nicole Kidman (he can do a killer Kirsten Dunst/Gabrielle Union monologue).
But, unfortunately, his life as an action star doesn’t go so well as he comes up with a case of amnesia and is going by the name of Boxer Santaros (still an action star, though). Life isn’t great for Boxer or anyone in the U.S. at this point.
The Tooth Fairy
With life as a Boxer being less than ideal, he tries a different name and sport: hockey. Since he’s new to hockey, he’s not very talented, so he resorts to fighting, hence the Tooth Fairy nickname. After a brief stint as the actual Tooth Fairy, he ends up playing for the Los Angeles Kings. Huh, of all the teams in the NHL, why would he sign with the Kings? Oh, maybe because he missed being a king!
The Game Plan
Growing tired of hockey, he pulls a Michael Jordan and retires to pursue his love of another sport. For him, it’s football, so he signs with the Boston Rebels. And what name does he take this time around? Joe Kingman! Yep, from the Kings to Kingman. King-man. As in, he was the Scorpion King-Man. C’mon Dwayne, you’re just making it too easy now.
Upon meeting the daughter he never knew he had in The Game Plan, he retires, deciding to combine his love of football and newfound passion for youth by working at a detention center where he teaches the sport to troubled teenagers.
The opening of The Rundown finds the Scorpion King as a retrieval specialist tracking a group of football players to a club because one of them is in debt to the mob. Why is our guy involved? Well, the kid is one of his former players from Gridiron Gang, of course. He does his best to straighten him out, and he also happens to chase after Seann William Scott, who he recognizes from Southland Tales.
Disgusted at seeing his former player and teammates throw money away at the club, he decides to do something about it, using his former pro football connections to become a money manager for NFL players.
Tired of the rat race and feeling called back to the sea that he once ruled over, the King heads to the beach to be a lifeguard. How do we know this is the same guy? Because, during a morning run early on in Baywatch, he has a conversation with Arian Foster. Who is Arian Foster? Well, a recently retired NFL running back whose money our guy clearly previously managed.
By the end of Baywatch, Mitch (a.k.a., a million other names) has once again found a worthy successor for protecting the ocean in Matt Brody (Zac Efron). But despite leaving for a new life, he wants to remember his friend, so he takes on the name John MATThews. (Hey, they can’t all be winners.)
In Snitch, our favorite thousands-of-years-old demigod starts his own construction company, but life is put on hold when his son gets arrested for accepting a package of drugs. John proceeds to help bring down a cartel boss for the government to free his son, which leads him into witness protection. And we pick up with him in Walking Tall, in which he’s been sent to Washington under the identity of Army veteran Christopher Vaughn. But when his "nephew" experiments with drugs, he discovers the source was a casino, which, because of drugs previously ruining his Snitch life, he subsequently destroys with a giant piece of lumber. Oh, where did he get the lumber and why is he so good with it? Well, that would be because he owned that construction company in Snitch! (Okay, I’m proud of that one.)
The Other Guys
After said destruction of casino, Christopher runs for and wins the title of sheriff. But he soon yearns for more action, so he transfers to the bright lights of New York City to become NYPD Detective Christopher Dancer (he's started getting lazy and doesn’t even bother to change his first name).
Pain & Gain
He was such a good cop that the higher-ups wanted to use him for undercover work, but he had become too famous (dating Kim Kardashian will do that to you). So he faked his death and headed to Miami to go undercover with some bad guys. Needing back-up, he eventually recruits fellow Other Guys NYPD officer Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) to join him.
He was so convincing as a bad guy that his next mission meant transferring to Washington D.C. and working for CONTROL, but only to then secretly infiltrate KAOS.
Pretending to be part of KAOS in Get Smart, he almost accidentally let a bomb destroy Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall. Thankfully, Agent 86 (Steve Carell) and 99 (Anne Hathaway) stopped it. But, our boy, who faked his death again, felt really bad about it, so he owed Disney one and got involved with the upcoming Jungle Cruise.
Upon proving himself as a master of the jungle on the jungle cruise, game makers took notice and decided he’d be the perfect avatar for a new video game set in the jungle.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
For years, all the King has heard about from his 1700 kids, who he constantly abandons for a new life, is how much cooler his avatar is than him. Wanting to prove he can dominate an island better than his avatar (and Brendan Fraser), he heads for a mysterious island.
While on that mysterious island, he encountered giant animals, such as bees and lizards, soon learning how to tame them, which would come in handy when a genetically altered gorilla, wolf, and crocodile were on the loose back in the states.
I think we’ve recently established our man’s love and passion for working with animals. And we also know that he is a mythical figure in his own right. And those two points easily explain why he’s “big-time into ‘corns (a.k.a., unicorns)” in Central Intelligence (note the shirt).
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Johnson’s CIA agent single-handedly takes out a group of fellow agents in Central Intelligence. And you know who was present for this impressive display? Veronica Mars alum Ryan Hansen as Steve. You know where Hansen was also present? G.I. Joe 2. Steve was really just undercover recruiting for his elite task force of Joes. Sadly, he recruits our guy just before he goes and gets himself killed along with Channing Tatum (getting Fraser’d).
Fast & Furious franchise
As a member of the Joes, King earns the codename of Roadblock. Now, let me ask you something: If you needed to find a government agent to track down and bring in a crew of elite drivers, who better than a guy named Roadblock? (BOOM! C’mon, that was good.)
Another question: What would cause someone to get into skyscraper security? Well, probably if said criminal drivers became your friends but also broke into a skyscraper and jumped a car through not one, but two other skyscrapers. Yeah, then you’d consider skyscraper security, too.
In Skyscraper, [***slight spoiler alert***] the King's former FBI team member and "brother" turns bad, eventually being killed. In Faster, the man known as Driver (on the nose much?) seeks vengeance against his brother's killers. He eliminates those responsible, all while a female detective, played by Carla Gugino, is on his tail.
Race to Witch Mountain
Wanting to get off the grid, he heads to Las Vegas to be a cab driver (still a driver!). It’s there where he’s reunited with Gugino, and also meets some aliens.
He and Carla fell in love, but when we pick up here, they’ve gotten divorced. But don’t worry, because a catastrophic earthquake has brought them back together. What a beautiful love story this is! Also, he’s a rescue pilot, which makes sense since he rescued all those people from way up high in that skyscraper.
The earthquake and threat of more like it has left humans seeking other options, so they commission a one-man flight to explore space. And who better than a man who has experience with aliens and flying? (Don't mind the look, he shapeshifted again.)
The success of the mission to Planet 51 soon has him recruited to go back to space, this time to a research facility on Mars. And there, once and for all, after living precisely 30 lives and thousands of years, is where he’s fittingly killed by a man named Reaper (Karl Urban).
This marks the tragic end of the person who The Rock has played for 18 years, 32 movies, and one TV series. What a run. R.I.P. to the real King.