Without a doubt, Peacemaker, which just concluded its first season on HBO, was a shot in the dark concept. James Gunn, who had been tapped by Warner Brothers to direct The Suicide Squad said that he wrote the Peacemaker series while stuck in lockdown from Covid-19 pandemic just to get his mind off things. Warner and DC Comics gave him the greenlight and it was a good thing they did, because it proves there’s still a lot of opportunities and achievements in the DCEU just as long as they take a different path from the MCU.
Gunn did the first two Guardians of the Galaxy for the MCU but for a while a few years back, it looked like some social media activity from years ago might keep him from doing the third one. So, he decided to go to DC. Now, that he’s on his way back to do the third GotG, I think he may just fully wash his hands of the MCU and Disney altogether when that’s done. If you get Gunn to do something, you ought to expect he’s going to take it as far out of left field as he can. The filmmaker cut his teeth working for Lloyd Kaufman and his Troma Films studio. And Squad was basically superhero movies if Troma did it.
So, Peacemaker starring John Cena, who in the last 20 years has gone from being a professional wrestler to a very good and comedic actor, as the titular character whose alter ego is Christopher Smith. In many ways, there’s a lot of similarities between professional wrestling and acting. In Cena’s case, both fields have been about going just outrageous as possible. In movies like Trainwreck and here, he’s not shy to bare all for sex scenes. And considering the closest we’ve seen before Peacemaker was that awkward sex scene in Eternals (which is almost as worse as finding a sex tape of your grandparents), this one probably had a lot of parents trying to change it so their kids wouldn’t see it.
The premise of the season had Christopher, who is so obnoxious and arrogant, he thinks he’s the best at everything, returning to his home after recovering from his injuries in Squad only to find himself involved in “Project Butterfly,” a top-secret mission operated by A.R.G.U.S with a motley crew of people. It is soon discovered that an alien race that resembles butterflies are taken over human bodies.
Christopher and his stalker turned sidekick Adrian Chase/Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) are working with A.R.G.U.S agents Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), John Economos (Steve Agee) and Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), who is also the daughter of A.R.G.U.S. leader Amanda Waller (Viola Davis in a cameo). They’re also under the leadership of Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji) who is revealed to be a butterfly alien himself. But I’m not going to spoil the rest for those who haven’t seen it yet.
All I can say, is Gunn really takes it as far as he can. And the trickiest thing is, it all fucking works. For the most part, there’s been too much use of pop culture references and this blend of comedy and action in superhero movies, but Gunn and his cast make it work. Part of this is due to Peacemaker not being such a popular character among lay people. This time, a year ago, I’m not sure many people knew who Peacemaker was just as they weren’t as familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy as they were with Captain America or The Incredible Hulk.
There’s also an antagonistic role of August “Auggie” Smith (Robert Patrick), Christopher’s white supremacist father who appears in costume as White Dragon. Despite looking like your typical MAGA-hat wearing Trumpster, Auggie actually works on advanced technology developing weapons and helmets for Peacemaker that can detect X-ray vision as well as administer damaging sonic booms and other things I won’t mention.
As I’ve said earlier, Gunn isn’t making some PG-13 series for tweens. The characters here cuss so much they make Deadpool seem like Mr. Rogers and the ultra-violence is so over the top you’d think Quentin Tarantino co-directed. Stretching a plot of a government covert team battling an alien invasion over eight episodes could’ve failed if the series didn’t take itself too seriously. That’s not saying that Gunn doesn’t add some drama and human emotions to the story. I’m not going to give it away but Christopher and Auggie have a very strained relationship after some past incidents.
Just before the airing of the eighth and final episode of the season last week, it was announced that the series was renewed for a second season on HBO. If Loki can get a second season, why not this?
What do you think? Please comment.