One of Rotten Tomatoes’ most anticipated series of 2022, The Suicide Squad spin-off series Peacemaker is now streaming first on Showmax.
Peacemaker picks up where The Suicide Squad movie left off, with Peacemaker returning home after recovering from his encounter with Bloodsport – only to discover that his freedom comes at a price.
Christopher Smith, a.k.a. Peacemaker, is played by 16-time former WWE world champion wrestler-turned-actor John Cena, whose roles in films like Fast and Furious 9 and Bumblebee have earned him multiple People’s Choice, Teen Choice and Kids’ Choice nominations.
HBO Max’s hotly anticipated eight-episode series is the first TV show in the DC Extended Universe, and the first from creator, writer-director and showrunner James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2, with 3 on the way), who penned the script for Peacemaker in the Covid-enforced downtime after completing Suicide Squad.
Gunn says the spark for the series arose out of one specific moment on the Suicide Squad set. “It’s the moment in The Suicide Squad where Peacemaker is holding his gun on Ratcatcher 2 and he’s about to kill her,” he told Collider. “I went into this tight closeup of his eyes… and I see his eyes switch. I see him go to this incredibly sad, vulnerable place. We realise this character is a guy who’s doing something he doesn’t want to do at all, but that he’s going to do anyway, which is shoot a young girl.”
“When I saw that moment in him, I knew John was not just a performer who was funny, which is why I hired him, but a guy who had this other layer. A big part of me wanting to do Peacemaker was to sculpt away all the other stuff, all the juggling and entertaining John does, and focus on that vulnerable sector.”
That “vulnerable sector” (and of course his comedic chops, plus a lifetime of kicking all kinds of unholy a**) has already earned Cena a nomination for Best Comedic Performance at the 2022 MTV Movie + TV Awards, and Peacemaker a renewal for a Season 2.
Peacemaker boasts a 94% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the consensus says the show is “a bloody good time that gives writer-director James Gunn full permission to let his freak flag fly.”
Guardians fans already know what that flag stands for: finding humour in the darkest, darkest places (Gunn’s directorial feature film debut was the 2006 gross-out B-movie horror comedy Slither, which won the Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Highest Body Count, and make no mistake, he’s still that guy); wrangling epic action sequences and large ensemble casts made up of fully formed, memorable individual characters; and finding the humanity in even the most absurd of those characters (think of Guardians’ Drax, or Rocket).
With Peacemaker, Gunn pulls out all those skills, but his greatest feat is taking the most unlikable, two-dimensional character from The Suicide Squad – the bucket-helmeted bad joke who said, “I cherish peace with all my heart. I don’t care how many men, women, and children I need to kill to get it” – and making him not just the hero of our story, but someone you can genuinely empathise with.
Of course, it isn’t all on Cena. Peacemaker has a formidable support cast, including Emmy nominee Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black’s Taystee), Freddie Stroma (Game of Thrones’ Dickon Tarly and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’s Cormac McLaggen), Nigerian-British actor Chukwudi Iwuji (The Underground Railroad, and next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), and MTV Movie Award nominee Robert “T-1000” Patrick (Terminator 2). Oscar winner Viola Davis also reprises her Suicide Squad role as Amanda Waller, and you should keep your eyes peeled for some ‘super’ cameos. And then there’s Peacemaker’s fan-favourite hero sidekick, Eagly, an American bald eagle (“voiced” by Emmy nominated voice legend Dee Bradley Baker) with a penchant for hugs and awkwardly, and sometimes brutally, stealing the show.
“Peacemaker thrives on Gunn’s ability to create human connection between characters who, at least on the surface, not only resist connection but have accepted their place of anonymity,” says The Hollywood Reporter, adding, “Gunn excels in healing broken things that didn’t even know how broken they were.”
AV Club calls Peacemaker “a stacked deck of fearsome insanity”, adding, “It’s vulgar, violent, prone to non sequitur, and has more than one dance sequence in store for you. But don’t you dare let its ceaseless barrage of profanity, nudity, and slaughter dupe you into thinking otherwise: … Peacemaker comes packing, among other things, a beating heart.”
Watch the trailer:
Watch Peacemaker on Showmax.