The first look at James Gunn and John Cena's upcoming TV series Peacemaker has been released. Based on Gunn's new film The Suicide Squad, the series will take a look at the origins of Cena's character Peacemaker, a hero Cena describes as "a douchey Captain America." The HBO Max show will release in 2022 and be exclusively written by Gunn, who will also direct at least five of the eight episodes.
In the comics, Peacemaker's father was a Nazi war criminal who took his life in front of his five-year-old son. From there, Peacemaker grew up to slaughter innocents until being arrested, when he was given an opportunity to join a government "Peacemaker" program in order to free himself. Now on parole, Peacemaker will kill any adult or child in order to achieve "peace" and atone for his and his father's crimes. The voices of both his father and his victims ring around in his massive, mirrored helmet, a notably humorous costume piece which Gunn describes as "a nightmare to film."
In an Empire exclusive, Gunn and Cena give a first peek at the upcoming Peacemaker series. Gunn explains that while Peacemaker's extreme views represent a problematic portion of the populace, they can be explored in a way that "makes a lot of sense." Given that this character exists alongside Harley Quinn, Aquaman, and the rest of the DCEU, a goofier costume juxtaposed with deeper philosophical confrontations can be seen as dense, new territory for fans of the universe. Cena explains this further:
This guy is a loud, obnoxious, bro-ey douchebag. That sucks. But why? At what point did he become such a douchebag and what does that mean? There’s a lot to dive into there.
To live in a world that has a Wonder Woman and a Superman, Gunn says it's "not an easy thing for [Peacemaker] to contend with." Although no plot details have yet been released, Gunn now says the show will have "a big science-fiction story" as well as plot points surrounding real-world issues. The show is expected to be for mature audiences, like the R-rated The Suicide Squad, with Gunn claiming that if the series were edited for broadcast TV, it "it would be forty seconds long."
Similar to other postmodern explorations of superhero-dom such as Watchmen and The Boys, Peacemaker as a character echoes how the inherent ties between power and abuse apply to beloved caped crusaders. Watchmen's The Comedian was based on Peacemaker, writer Alan Moore contending that centralized powers like the Justice League are fascistic regardless of rhetoric and fanfare. Where older superhero portrayals in media labeled the greater American purpose as triumphant, heroic, and even wholesome — such as Christopher Reeve's Superman or Adam West's Batman — newer shows like Peacemaker have reinterpreted American "heroes" as grittier, nonsensically self-righteous, and hereditarily genocidal. As Cena describes it, it's "f**ked."
More: Everything We Know About The Suicide Squad's Story