Peacemaker season one is now available to stream on Sky and NOW TV.
When James Gunn’s rude and riotous The Suicide Squad hit our screens, John Cena’s Peacemaker stood out – and not just because of his chrome dome. Somewhat of a parodic inverse of Marvel’s Captain America, his ironic trail of death and destruction in the absolute pursuit of peace while maintaining the status quo made Rick Flagg’s observation of him all the more astute: what a joke. However, Gunn’s wrestler-specific X-ray vision saw massive potential in Cena’s portrayal and the emotional depth he brought to the character, so much so that he envisioned a whole series. As Peacemaker finally washes up on our shores, James Gunn and John Cena prove that Peacemaker is so much more than just a joke.
Accompanying Cena to the small-screen are Steve Agee’s John Economos and Jennifer Holland’s Emilia Harcourt, both assigned as his handlers following the short-term coup over Viola Davis’ blood-curling Amanda Waller, who also makes an appearance. Peacemaker, aka Christopher Smith, has a short glimpse of freedom that is somewhat unexpected as we meet his best friend & sidekick, Eagley, an American bald eagle, and his racist father, August Smith, AKA the White Dragon. It’s an understatement to say that the star-spangled soldier and his father have issues stemming from a dark incident in Christopher’s past and his father’s patriotically racist mantra.
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However, it’s not long before Peacemaker is rounded up by some of the newest recruits to the DC Universe, with Danielle Brooks’ Leota Adebayo and Chukwudi Iwuji’s Clemon Murn rounding off the Black Ops crew as they handle the mysterious ‘Project Butterfly’. Brooks’ inclusion in the cast is an inspired choice as she provides some stellar comedic chops while equally bringing that dramatic A-game we saw on Orange Is the New Black. Here Peacemaker’s predicament is similar to a smaller-scale Suicide Squad mission as he is begrudgingly forced into becoming a contract killer for Waller’s secret ops once more.
The camaraderie between the team provides some of the best comic moments of the show. Here every player gets a turn playing the comedic straight man, while Gunn equally allows them all to bathe in the comedic spotlight. Chukwudi provides some of Peacemaker’s most satisfying jokes through his curt, aggressive demeanour. While at the same time, Agee’s Economos embodies the pure energy of working a 9 to 5 job you hate with a passion. Meanwhile, Smith’s crime-fighting ‘friend’, Vigilante, played by the brilliant Freddie Stroma, dovetails a cold-blooded killer with a naïve 10-year-old kid playing dress-up. Stroma’s Vigilante is undoubtedly one of the loosest cannons in the entire show – he seems to be indestructible, not because he’s powered in any way; instead, he is sweetly charming despite his psychopathic and murderous lust.
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Peacemaker is a character study of a man slowly processing his role in the events of The Suicide Squad. He is introspective and self-reflective; here, the surprising depth that Cena showed in his debut is significantly enriched in an episodic structure. There’s a palpable sense of tragedy at the heart of Christopher Smith, compelling you to feel empathy toward someone you laughed at in Suicide Squad – it’s rare we see villains become remorseful. Still, by delving into Peacemaker’s psyche, that’s what Gunn achieves. The heart of Peacemaker is about deconstructing the name and understanding the man beneath the costume. Why is Christopher Smith the way that he is? And can he change from being a cold-blooded killer to someone with a heroic purpose?
Even if you had no idea who created this show, you immediately know it’s a James Gunn outing. He brings his trademark visual dynamism to Peacemaker, with a chaotic and unstable energy that matches the bizarre world in which Christopher finds himself trapped. But it also wouldn’t be a James Gunn venture without a head-bangingly awesome soundtrack, and here Gunn wraps the action in the tunes of Motley Crue, Wig Wam, Faster Pussycat, and Hanoi Rock.
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It’s clear that Gunn has been given carte blanche to do whatever he likes in the DC Universe. As a result, Peacemaker offers us a no holds barred cascade of DC quips, ranging from conversations about Aquaman’s sexuality to Green Arrow’s unusual fetishes and the pusillanimous nature of Batman. Equally, the violence and gore are turned up to ten, making Peacemaker one of the most adult superhero shows you’ve ever seen, and that includes The Boys. Here heads roll, faces implode, blood flies and brains splatter. However, Gunn has also wrapped this violence in a fantastic tongue-in-cheek screenplay.
Peacemaker is a brilliantly bloody affair and another masterful slice of comic-book carnage from James Gunn. John Cena delivers a genuinely heart-breaking and emotionally complicated study of a man on the brink of an existential crisis, tugging at your heartstrings while equally making you laugh. So let’s give James Gunn the keys to the DC kingdom now, shall we?
Peacemaker is a brilliantly bloody affair and another masterful slice of comic-book carnage from James Gunn.