Photos courtesy of WWE
By James Viscardi with Ben Morse
Marvel heroes like Cable and Franklin Richards know what it’s like to grow up with famous fathers, but perhaps not even the likes of Cyclops and Mister Fantastic cast a shadow quite like the one and only “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
Current WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes—who will attempt to win the Intercontinental title for a third title this Sunday at No Way Out when he challenges Christian, the man who defeated him for the championship—calls the multi-time World champion and WWE Hall of Famer “dad.” With Father’s Day coming up, we chatted with the younger Rhodes about how Dusty has influenced his career, the differences between them, and what advice “The Dream” has passed on to his progeny.
Of course we also got Cody’s take on the latest twists in Avengers Vs. X-Men plus his pick for “Father of the Year” in the Marvel Universe and more.
Marvel.com: So as we approach Father’s Day, we have to ask: what’s it like being the son of Dusty “The American Dream” Rhodes?
Cody Rhodes: It’s a great thing! You know, when you’re a part of a wrestling dynasty like our own, it’s a privilege. But that’s not to say it’s easy. The daunting aspect of having my dad being who he is is carrying his name. It’s a name that means something to wrestling fans and it’s up to me to keep it that way.
Marvel.com: When you were coming up in wrestling, did you ever think about adopting a character similar to your dad’s? Or did you want to go in a different direction entirely from the get-go?
Cody Rhodes: For me, I never considered doing anything like Dusty, only because I’m very unlike Dusty to begin with. We always joke that I’m adopted because I have black hair, and he has bleach blond hair—it’s just a joke—but for me, I was told early on by Dean Malenko, one of the producers for WWE, to try to strive away from doing anything that your father did, and that was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. A lot of second or third generation [wrestlers] try to model themselves after their fathers and end up just being juniors. I never wanted to be a junior.
Marvel.com: As you’ve come up through the WWE ranks, has your dad given you any golden nuggets of advice as you grew as a performer?
Cody Rhodes: The man gives me great tips every Wednesday, and every Saturday after he watches SmackDown, especially. It’s funny, with my dad being tied so close to the WWE he’s a bit biased. If he had his way, I’d be World champion now. So with that, I have to pull him in from that time to time. But he has this understanding of the inner workings of sports entertainment, better than almost anybody out there and that stuff is invaluable. And that’s great for me to know; I feel like at 26, I have knowledge of the backstage inner workings of sports entertainment more than most.
Marvel.com: Now fans of yours here at Marvel know when it comes to comics, you’re a huge fan. Is your dad into comics at all?
Cody Rhodes: Not really, but the man appreciates a great epic tale. So every now and then, if I read something that’s really good, or if there’s a splash page that’s really good, like that they don’t need words for, I’ll show it to him.
Marvel.com: Changing gears a bit here, if you had the chance to award “Father of the Year” to someone in the Marvel Universe, who would win the title?
Cody Rhodes: Easy, especially with what’s been going on lately. Cable, by far—and there’s a lesson to be had in that as well. You see there was a time when Cable was viewed as a bad guy even as recently as Messiah CompleX when he took Hope away from the present. But then, while he was on the run, protecting her, you rooted for him. I actually just got finished reading AVENGERS: X-SANCTION and seeing him continue to try and fight for Hope was admirable. It all harkens back to when Cyclops and Jean Grey went to extreme lengths to protect him. So long story, short: “Father of the Year” in the Marvel Universe? I’d say Cable.
Marvel.com: Riffing on that, how do you view the father/son relationship between Cyclops and Cable?
Cody Rhodes: You know, I think it’s funny that he calls him Dad. If you read X-Cutioner’s Song, and you look at their history, they have very limited interaction. They don’t have an extended period of time together. And over the years, Cyclops has become more and more like Magneto, positioning himself as “Father of All Mutants.” Of course, it’s looking like Cyclops is going to go off the rails just like Magneto did.
Marvel.com: What have been some of your favorite parts of Avengers Vs. X-Men so far?
Cody Rhodes: Well, I think that right out of the gate, I love how epic this series is. I mean look at some of those matchups—you could make whole stories out of stuff like Red Hulk vs. Colossus! As a fan, it’s so cool to see some of these dream fight matchups happening all in one place. I’m also a pretty big Spider-Man fan, so whenever I get to see him mix it up with the X-Men, it’s a lot of fun.
Marvel.com: I know you’re a die-hard X-Men fan, so are you still on their side or have you swayed a little bit reading Avengers vs. X-Men?
Cody Rhodes: You couldn’t sway me. Even Wolverine couldn’t sway me; I’m a Cyclops and an X-Men fan. Maybe because it’s the first thing I picked up, because of the animated series that I grew up on. I mean, some of these X-Men we’re talking about are basically gods. Magneto is basically a god; he should never, ever “sell” for somebody with a shield. Another cool thing about the X-Men is their balance. While you have some super strong mutants, there are some who still struggle with learning their powers and fitting in.
Marvel.com: Keen eyed fans know that your ring gear has always been wrestling inspired, and recently you’ve taken sort of a red and white motif. Is that for any character in particular?
Cody Rhodes: That one is really not for any character in particular, it was more for just “let’s get some bright colors.” It’s almost too bright, the white is incredibly difficult to keep clean, but I will say that the change that I really wanted to make—I’ve tried once in the past, but I couldn’t get it right—but I really wanted a pre-match robe that was going be Mister Sinister inspired, with the cape style that was elevated on his back with the strands that went down. If I can convince the lovely seamstress to work extra hard on it, I think I can get it done.
Marvel.com: You’ve got a rematch for the Intercontinental title with Christian coming up this Sunday at No Way Out, but do you have any plans to go after the WWE or World titles in the near future?
Cody Rhodes: I’ve always had plans to move on to the World title, but in all honesty, I want to grab the Intercontinental title and become the first dual champion since The Ultimate Warrior. A lot of the top superstars of the WWE have something to stand on, like Randy Orton was the youngest World Heavyweight champion of all time, and Chris Jericho was the first Unified champion, he beat Steve Austin and The Rock in the same night. To cement a legacy, you can certainly do that by saying you were the first dual champion since Ultimate Warrior, and that’d be the goal for me.
Tune in this Sunday on pay-per-view to see Cody Rhodes take on Christian for the WWE Intercontinental title at No Way Out. Be sure to visit WWE.com for more information.