Do you remember all those Disney+ shows that expand on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and tie their feature films together? “Peacemaker” isn’t exactly that lofty. Right, it might influence future DC films, but this movie from James Gunn, director of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Suicide Squad,” for better or for worse, feels much more willing, to stay in their lanes and do their own thing. This eight-episode action/comedy is an unexpected spin-off of Gunn’s August 2021 film, and it follows Christopher Smith aka Peacemaker (John Cena) on another mission with some iconic characters from the film as well as some intriguing fresh ones. It’s a weird show in that it’s less ambitious, less hilarious, and less action-packed, but it’s still delightful episode to episode, scene to scene. Cena’s goofy appeal is ideal for a muscle-head superhero who believes that the greatest way to establish peace is to murder everyone who tries to stop him, and he’s aided by some delightful, engaging performers. Every episode contains an exciting twist or two, as well as some hilarious sequences. Is Peacemaker in need of his own show? Not exactly, but when has what we need ever been important in the ever extravagant world of guys in tights?
After being resurrected, Peacemaker called a halt to some of the crew that ousted Waller (Viola Davis) at the end of the film, including the burly Economos (Steve Agee), whom Peacemaker called “dye-beard,” and tough-as-nails Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), who sees straight through Peacemaker’s macho schtick. Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), the team’s stoic commander, and Adebayo (the wonderful Danielle Brooks), a new member who brings a secret to the squad, round out the group. And even Peacemaker’s animal sidekick, don’t forget Eagle-y.
Then Peacemaker and his team of new exiles (Economos and Harcourt) had taken on a mission because of their rebellion-encountered an alien invasion by chance, which impulses Gunn’s Troma background out. That being said, compared to the madness of the film that inspired it, much of Peacemaker is tame. It comes to life when it allows itself to run off the track in action scenes, but I’m not sure anyone needs such a chatty “peacemaker.” Of course, it’s impossible to keep the pace of the movie-going for about 40 minutes over eight episodes, but Peacekeeper certainly suffers from a modern-day popular problem, which is that its final run time seems a little thin. The first and last episodes are on fire while the middle often feels like filler.
At the very least, the filler is frequently rather intriguing. Freddie Stroma is excellent as Vigilante, the Robin to Peacemaker’s Batman, despite the fact that the hero never requested him. He’s like a crazy fan choosing to go on killing sprees with his beloved hero. Auggie Smith, Peacemaker’s cruel father, is played effectively by Robert Patrick, a virulently racist villain who shaped the darkest corners of his son’s nature. Much of the season is around Chris recognizing that he lacks serenity in his life not due to the world around him, but because of the house in which he was born. When it comes to the main cast, Cena does more work than she did in the movie (with lots of glam rock accompaniment), and he’s a nice lead, peace without turning him into a caricature. It captures the naive insufficiency of the maker. Brooks represents the audience who is likely to realize and even appreciate Suicide Squad’s most stupid members, while Holland plays a credible action hero.
Finally, during a period when almost the world is unable to go outside due to the epidemic or the climate, “Peacemaker” is amusing enough to serve as an entertaining tool. It’s difficult to explain why it tends to be forgettable—shortage of ambition and weak narrative are most likely to blame—but I’ll take this type of low-key silly charm over the self-seriousness that buries so many superhero TV shows any day. While series like “WandaVision” and “Hawkeye” attempt to recreate the Marvel universe, Peacemaker is rescuing the world in a way that only he can. And with an eagle.