Were you feeling underwhelmed by the Peacemaker character in The Suicide Squad? Or did you perhaps love the character and wanted more? Well James Gunn’s Peacemaker will settle those sentiments as it is as boisterous as The Suicide Squad while not being afraid to explore the dark humanistic traits of Peacemaker. As they say, give peace a fucking chance.
The Peacemaker series was conceptualised and written for fun during quarantine when James Gunn simply had nothing else to do. Prior to The Suicide Squad even releasing, the studio had approved for the project to go ahead and is now, thankfully, gracing the small screen for us to enjoy. Watching The Suicide Squad felt like James Gunn had been fully unlocked as we witnessed his complete vision in all its R-rated glory – well… turns out James Gunn can go a level deeper. Gunn thrives off finding pockets of empathy for his characters, particularly morally ambiguous ones. Peacemaker is a character who has an innate desire to do whatever it takes to establish peace but often finds himself making the wrong decisions. On the surface, Peacemaker is a completely silly, zany and foolish character but Gunn taps into a deeper part of him where the audience can find emotional engagement. This part was the most surprising to me since I knew exactly what Gunn would bring to the table – comical banter between characters and ludicrous plot beats that work, with a touch of sensitivity. I don’t think I ever imagined myself being emotionally drawn to the character of Peacemaker but Gunn slowly strips back the layers to a character who has become far more captivating since we saw him in 2021. Leaning into the natural allure towards the morally ambiguous heroes, there is far more moral complexion to Peacemaker than anticipated as the series explores his humanistic traits.
We live in a world where Spider-Man and Batman dominate the pop culture stratosphere due to the empathetic elements of their characters that everyone, in some way, can see pieces of themselves in them and Peacemaker does that with its titular character. While a direct comparison is incredibly hasty, it is worth mentioning that Gunn completely understands what these comic-book characters represent and it lies completely in the humanism of the characters. It’s very similar to what he did with Guardians of the Galaxy except he was granted full creative freedom to truly dive into the witty style of his storytelling – I mean, the opening credits is all you really need to know about this show. Suiting up once again, John Cena slides back into the role of Peacemaker in the new HBOmax series and it feels as if he never took off the costume. Cena always had the level of charisma and comedic chops to fit nicely inside a James Gunn project. The Suicide Squad writing played very well to Cena’s strengths and this series gives him an opportunity to showcase his versatility as an actor. Adding a couple layers to the character, Cena does a really good job at showcasing his ability to be more than just a throwaway side character.
One of the more recognizable traits of Peacemaker is dialled back technical attributes that are more in line with your standard TV series. This is particularly due to the flashback pieces of The Suicide Squad which had a more polished and stylistic look to it and that establishes a clear contrast. This isn’t a negative on the series but just don’t expect the colour to pop off the screen during high-scale action set pieces. Peacemaker is perfectly fine in comparison to your generic TV series but the CGI of Peacemaker’s sidekick, Eagly which is very impressive particularly at replicating the movements of a bald eagle. One of the most striking features of James Gunn’s filmmaking style is his ability in selecting musical pieces and he does this once again with Peacemaker which elevates each sequence.
Set to the tune of James Gunn’s notable slapstick comedy alongside a lower budget fit for the small screen, Peacemaker is brutal and comedic on the surface but offers enough introspect to keep you emotionally engaged.