Former WWE star Batista earns raves as Drax

Posted at 07/31/14 4:55 PM

Dave Bautista stars as 'Drax the Destroyer in newest Marvel film. Photo: Handout

MANILA -- Former professional wrestler Dave Bautista has been garnering rave reviews for his role in the newest Marvel film, "Guardians of the Galaxy," which opens Thursday in the Philippines.

More popularly known as simply Batista, the 45-year-old part-Filipino stars as Drax the Destroyer, a quiet yet massive brute covered in tattoos, obsessed with avenging the death of his wife and child.

"I just can’t imagine anyone else doing the role but Dave Bautista; he is exactly what I imagined as Drax," the film's director James Gunn said in a statement.

"He is able to do the emotional aspects of that character, the humorous aspects of that character, the physical aspects of that character and talk like a Shakespearean oddball. Dave is able to do all of that and it comes so naturally, plus he’s this physically big, huge bald guy," he added.

Batista is relatively new to the cinematic world.

Following his departure from the WWE in 2010, he has had two big screen outings -- "The Man with the Iron Fists" and "Riddick."

Yet, his novice status did not matter one bit to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and executive producer Jeremy Latcham, who were full of praise for the wrestler's acting skills.

"Dave did an amazing job over the course of the auditions that really showcased who we wanted this character to be," said Feige.

"On the surface [Drax is] very strong and almost frightening, but when you dig deeper, when you spend some time with him, you find a sensitive side," he said.

For his part, Latcham admitted: "Finding a big, hulking actor who could pull off that nuanced performance was really hard."

"I just can’t imagine anyone else doing the role but Dave Bautista; he is exactly what I imagined as Drax," revealed film director James Gunn. Photo: Handout

Batista was cast alongside Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Vin Diesel as Groot and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon.

"I knew what a big deal the project was and the talent that was involved. My insecurity kicked in. I didn’t want to be the big muscle-head on the set messing up all the time," Batista admitted.

"But the script was so good; I loved the character and was very excited about the opportunity to play the range of emotions. Drax is a very passionate character. He’s a warrior but he's dealing with a lot of pain. He’s heartbroken. He's living solely for revenge and as a result has lost his connection with everything else," he said.

The film, which is the 10th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been slowly garnering positive reviews. It currently boasts a 93 percent approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

"Bautista's Drax is a hoot. A clunky literalist with an annoying inability to understand the simplest metaphor, he is responsible for some of the movie's most winning wordplay," wrote Claudia Puig of USA Today.

Top critic Bill Goodykoontz, in his review, said: "Bautista is the sleeper star of the film, laugh-out-loud hilarious."

Marvel Studios has confirmed that a sequel is in the works for 2017, with Gunn returning as director and Josh Brolin playing the villain Thanos.