Peacemaker seems like a program that the one and only James Gunn could create – hilarious, surprisingly poignant, and centered on a diverse ensemble of social outcasts grudgingly coming concurrently to preserve the planet from a worldwide menace. Viewers can assume it as a familiar concept due to the fact that the series was inspired by the aftereffects of The Suicide Squad internationally popular in 2021. Accordingly, in the series, John Cena plays a bloodthirsty jingoistic killer also known as Peacemaker (with the forename as Christopher Smith), who was snatched out of jail cell by A.R.G.U.S. H.B.I.C. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), and partnered with other prominent lawbreakers for a special mission abroad from which they are likely to not escape easily.
Throughout all chapters of DC movies that Gunn scripted and directed, Peacemaker is revealed to be assigned for a confidential mission that’s made for him only: to conceal the United States government’s participation in any possible ways. Many of the rest members of the Squad come into conflict, leading to Peacemaker receiving a bullet through the throat from Bloodsport (Idris Elba) – but actually, it is revealed in a post-credit scene that the vigilante still survives though being quite bruised. Gunn’s return in scripting all the episodes of the series on HBO Max opened new happenings that Peacemaker (for the time being) believes in the possibilities to escape from the hospital and the remaining of his extended prison verdict. Anyway, we quickly learn that simply running out of crime is not that simple for Peacemaker – however, viewers found it so compelling to enjoy all the unreasonably unrepentantly cold-blooded facets that form Cena, which is considered as even more disappointed about some specific characters in the spinoff series.
It is totally unforgettable for the audiences of Peacemaker’s first appearance in The Suicide Squad, in which he proclaimed, without prodding, that he spent all of his heart to treasure peace, only to remark that “I don’t care how many men, women, and children I kill to get it”? He appeared as a character who have walked off the page of a comic book in the Silver Age era with a dazzling metal helmet and all, with only one purpose to present himself as one of the most powerful elements of an amusing DCEU movie, and to make some viewers can not help but love to hate (and even hate to love much more). Cena’s innate humourous chops, as well as his uncanny capability to deliver the silliest talk with a thoroughly straight face, invoke a satisfactory amount of that conflicted emotion – and those unique features are still fully displayed in Peacemaker undoubtedly – but an unfortunate decency transformation in terms of morality for the show’s lead would be the result of the addition of villains who are considered as on much more inferior moral basis. What is the meaning of evolving a supervillain and what if Peacemaker no longer desires to straight-up murder people become the two biggest struggles as well as a psychological journey inside him. We can assume it as a wonderful redemption story if it weren’t planned for the fact that it seems like such a 180-degree reversal from the dick we knew from the beginning – specifically when other backing characters can definitely do help as more respectable foils of him in every chapter of the season.
Standing out from those characters is Leota Adebayo, portrayed by Danielle Brooks, who participated in the new crew of Peacemaker when it is led by Clemson Murn (a coolly funny Chukwudi Iwuji) and discovers herself in an unexpectedly special situation in which she can both wrangle and see him when he struggles in his most difficult and vulnerable times.
She – a Black woman shows no interest in murdering, is an opposite polarity to him in every aspect, causing her a mesmerizing dilemma which forces her to grapple with the central story throughout the show and at the same time developing a fascinating mystery itself: who made the decision of including her as a part of the crew from the start?
So many acquainted faces from The Suicide Squad make the perfect cast, such as Steve Agee’s John Economos, who casually sticks to a computer screen whenever he does not exchange delightful tete-a-tetes with Cena, and also Jennifer Holland’s Emilia Harcourt who rarely have opportunities to do fierce ass-kicking instead of doing fall victim to the reduction of character trope, which means that she is always placed on a pedestal because of her appearance by several men while being evaluated seriously in her work is all she ever strives for. Lastly, we would like to mention Vigilante, played by Freddie Stroma, who appears to revel in inflicting violence so much that Peacemaker becomes nearly a pacifist in comparison with him.
And sadly that is indeed Peacemaker’s main problem: the program stops just after going full-throttle through the worst characteristics of its lead, without any other purpose but to assign those traits to other presences considered as more horrendous. It is clear that his ability and desire to kill anybody that he and/or the government considered indispensable is transferred to Vigilante, and the intense nationalism in Peacemaker is passed to his father, embodied with a veiled threat by Robert Patrick. Most comics fans will be aware that the character has an undeniably horrible past, and although this is addressed to some level, the film’s underlying theme of awful parents made it feel like Gunn is performing a less memorable version of his own greatest hits.
Some minor characters involving other plot strands are not sufficiently developed; Judomaster of Nhut Le arrives primarily for the only two purposes of knocking people up and nibbling on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Even the most top-end scenario of Peacemaker feels like a throwaway amongst all of the intimate, kind of character-driven contents, which are far more fascinating though not necessarily emotionally devastating.
Peacemaker, the first potential spinoff from The Suicide Squad, is undoubtedly a less ornamental sequence, in which action is inferior to solving relationship related issues, though it might have been more successful unless it tried too hard on turning the main character into a loveable douchebag or unnecessarily making his murderous past reasonable. When he first appeared, he possibly was too excellent to be a villain and the series also did not provide enough time for him to significantly alter in such a pleasing narrative way. There have been fleeting flashes of brilliance, reminders of how Gunn can succeed in the sincerest components of excessive comedy rooted from comic books – and we cannot deny that the soundtrack of the series hits (Getting the opening theme music out of your brain after hearing it for the first time is almost impossible). Overall, it’s Peacemaker’s unashamed awfulness that makes him such an intriguing and engaging character, and the decision to backtrack on what’s called his distinguishing characteristics only contributes to an incredibly great follow-up.