Fightin' Fanboys

Fightin' Fanboys: The Fall of Cody Rhodes

The formerly Dashing WWE Superstar discusses his favorite Marvel bad guys and his own descent into villainy!

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Photos courtesy of WWE

By Arune Singh

Cody Rhodes: the WWE Superstar every woman wants and every man wants to be, captivating fans with his looks and winning matches with his skill.

But after a brutal accident at the hands of Rey Mysterio, Rhodes’ most prized possession—his dashing good looks—had been seemingly lost forever, his nose broken by the venerable Luchador. Following these events, Rhodes returned a new man, possessed by an insatiable hunger for revenge and terrorizing Mysterio every week until the two agreed to settle their differences at April’s WrestleMania XXVII.

Cody Rhodes delivers a knee to the face of Rey Mysterio

Their battle drew praise from all corners, with many comic fans noticing not only Mysterio’s Captain America inspired outfit, but also the Doctor Doom like appearance of Rhodes himself. Though he emerged the surprise winner, Rhodes hasn’t softened his demeanor, targeting opponents with the same viciousness of the greatest villains in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com caught up with Rhodes to discuss this victory, what comics he’s reading right now, which Marvel villains he’s pattered himself after and what’s next for one of the hottest talents in WWE as he heads towards the Extreme Rules pay-per-view this Sunday.

Marvel.com: What was it like to see Rey Mysterio come out dressed like Captain America at WrestleMania?

Cody Rhodes: For the most part, it was a complete surprise. I know he’d mentioned to some people that he had intentions of dressing up in comic book form this year and I had a lot of assumptions about who it could be, but I didn’t know he’d be Cap or that the costume would be so close. From the wings on the hood to the way he entered, he gave it the full on Captain America—or maybe Captain Mexico, if you look at the treatment on his chest. I’ve seen Rey in many costumes over the years, so I think it’s cool that all these years later I’m wrestling Captain America.

Marvel.com: You tried to bring a bit of your comic book fan roots to your ‘Mania gear, didn’t you?

Cody Rhodes: Yeah, my jacket was supposed to be more Mister Sinister themed, but as the designer got to work on it, it became more “Assassin’s Creed” themed, which was also fine by me. At one point there was this huge diamond in the waistband but it was too much, a bit too close to the Sinister vibe. We could never get the jewel to work, but the diamond is still there in rough leather form if you look closely.

Marvel.com: The way you beat Rey was a classic villain move, which seems very appropriate given how much fans have compared you to Doctor Doom. Is that character a big influence?

Doctor Doom

Cody Rhodes: Yeah, that’s the funny thing—Big Show calls me “Victor Von Doom” and I take that as such a big compliment because Doom is such an iconic villain. Even when he’s not used in these epic crossovers or doesn’t get the big win, Doom is still a formidable foe who’s among the elite villains in the Marvel Universe.

I have all these influences without realizing them myself sometimes. For example, I really wanted to do a lot of mic work along the way to WrestleMania and as I was cutting promos I felt very comfortable in the suit and tie, but then one week decided I wanted to add the mask. That addition made it all pop and reminded me of characters like Doom and The Red Skull, guys who are all business but hide something hideously wrong with them.

Marvel.com: So did you ever think about a less transparent mask, to complete the Doom look?

Cody Rhodes: Well, here’s a little known fact, because in the world of entertainment things do get misconstrued: one thing that legitimately happened was my broken nose.  It was a horrible thing that ended up being a great thing in terms of my career. I had an idea where I wanted to take it but I looked online and saw Rip Hamilton, from the Detroit Pistons. He had the exact mask I wanted—I even went to the same doctor who molded his and had it cast to my face, allowing you to still see my face without obscuring my features. It actually was much more clear when I started but WWE fogged it up a bit, which makes it look cool especially when the lights bounce off.

Mister Sinister

Marvel.com: We’ve spoken to a lot of successful wrestling “villains” who are comic fans. Do you see a connection between comics and the top bad guys in the biz?

Cody Rhodes: I think sometimes it’s really easy to be inspired in our business by just our business itself. Looking at the vault of amazing matches and promos before you totally makes sense, but there’s something to be said for those in the crew who also read comics because I for one didn’t want to be inspired by my business. I didn’t want to regurgitate what came before me. I wanted to do something new. It’s a bit subtle and some of it subconscious, but for the last five years not a day’s gone by where I haven’t read at least a single issue of something—that has to have an effect.

So in terms of your ability to be a bad guy, whether it’s [C.M. Punk] or me—and this will sound like a bad guy statement—if you read comics you’re just smarter than everyone else.

These days people still dismiss comics, but if you ask those same people what they’re reading it’s not like they’re reading a book either. They’re not stimulating their brains. They’re not reading new stories.  They’re part of this society that’s glued to the TV and has everything instant access. Man, that’s not for me—I want to envision things with my mind. Guys like Punk or myself, we’re smarter than everyone else because we read comics.

Marvel.com: That all reminds me a bit of VENGEANCE, a new series we’ve got coming up in which a new generation of villains sets out to be a better kind of bad. So, if you had to go around the Marvel Universe to select your villainous cohorts, who would they be?

Cody Rhodes walks the aisle

Cody Rhodes: Man, that’s not easy.

Marvel.com: You’re a big Mister Sinister fan—would you want him on your team?

Cody Rhodes: That’s the thing: I’m a big Sinister fan but he always seemed to go up against his employer, y’know? [Laughs] I’m taking him nonetheless though. I want some muscle too, so I’m picking Red Hulk and Sabretooth, but he’s gotta be in his X-Men animated series outfit from the 90’s. I always appreciated it so much and was extremely disappointed when it didn’t make it to the big screen. Y’know who else I’d take, just for the look of things? Stryfe. For speed I’d add Quicksilver, who’s regal and comes from a legit heritage. Then we can add in Kingpin, who would handle the financials.

I want to make sure I don’t take anyone too strong because otherwise I’ll be surrounded by people vying for the top spot and the team would lose focus, so Von Doom and guys like that are out.

Marvel.com: You know your stuff! Speaking of which, anything you’re really enjoying or looking forward to from Marvel?

Cody Rhodes: I’m a big Archangel fan, so I’m definitely looking forward to “The Dark Angel Saga” in UNCANNY X-FORCE, which is gonna be badass. And FEAR ITSELF sounds really cool—I’ll probably head over to Doctor No’s Comics and pick it up right after this call. I’m a bit behind on comics from traveling, but keeping up with the digital comics.

I really enjoyed ULTIMATE COMICS THOR and ULTIMATE COMICS CAPTAIN AMERICA, especially since I got them the same day as the stores—I’d love to see more releases like that too.

The Dark Angel Saga

Marvel.com: Yeah, you mentioned you’re a big fan of the Marvel Comics app on your iPad. What makes it so appealing for you, besides portability when you’re traveling?

Cody Rhodes: One of my favorite things is that featured section when you load it up—it streamlines things for you. If I want to read Secret Invasion and it’s featured, I can see all the parts I need to buy right there so I don’t need to go looking. Plus, it helps me find new stories to read; like I’d read stories around World War Hulk, but not the actual story yet. Now I can get the entire story in one sitting.

And the other cool thing is that with all the new comics that go up, we get some of the classic material.  People these days might not be able to afford the original issues of the [Chris] Claremont/[Jim] Lee X-Men, but they can get the digital versions right there for a good price.

Marvel.com: Let’s end this with wrestling, since we’ve got the Extreme Rules PPV this Sunday. What’s new in WWE for Cody Rhodes?

Cody Rhodes: I think WrestleMania was a statement but also an opportunity. What I did was say to everyone, our fans included, that “I’m really into this gig, let me have more.” I’ve learned that you have to be your biggest self-promoter and I hope that in the next year, as we move forward to WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami, that I can get in that World title hunt. There [are] not [many] bigger [stars] than Rey Mysterio and I beat him, so I’d love to be competing for the World Heavyweight Championship. Along the way there’s a lot of guys I’d like to compete with too; I’ve been telling guys for time now that I’d really like to compete with Kane. He’s such a fixture of the WWE Universe and I’d love to give him the same treatment I gave Rey Mysterio. The old is going and the new is coming—I really like that.

Catch Cody Rhodes every Friday at 8:00 PM Eastern Time on SyFy’s Friday Night SmackDown and order Extreme Rules this Sunday on pay-per-view as he takes on Rey Mysterio in a Falls Count Anywhere match! For more on Cody, visit WWE.com.

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