James Gunn has opened up about what led him to do the Peacemaker series and what moment in The Suicide Squad inspired it.
Both James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker are arguably the best thing the DC Extended Universe has put out to date. With a combination of over-the-top violence, laugh-out-loud humor, and real, relatable human drama, both installments have set a new high bar for whatever Warner Bros does next in the universe. Yet one of both installments’ biggest MVPs is also one of the most despicable characters in the entire endeavor.
First introduced in The Suicide Squad, John Cena’s Peacemaker was a character who stood out as being despicable in a cast full of almost nothing but despicable characters. Towards the end of the film, he is revealed to be Amanda Waller’s backup plan and kills Rick Flag and almost kills Ratcatcher 2 in order to cover up Project Starfish. In the end, he is gunned down by Bloodsport but is revealed to be still alive during an after-credits ending, leading to the events of the Peacemaker series. According to James Gunn, it was this moment that lead to the series creation.
While speaking to Vulture, James Gunn broke down the moment where he realized he wanted to do a Peacemaker series, tracing it all back to when John Cena had a gun to Ratcatcher 2’s head:
“There’s one really specific moment with me and John that I can trace the origin of this show back to. It’s the moment in The Suicide Squad where Peacemaker is holding his gun on Ratcatcher 2 [Cleo Cazo] and he’s about to kill her. I went into this tight closeup of his eyes. On set, I’m always on the microphone talking over everything while we’re shooting. So I’m talking to John on the God Mic about what he’s feeling, and I see his eyes switch. I see him go to this incredibly sad, vulnerable place. We realize 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. At that moment, I knew John had that thing. It’s a thing a lot of big actors don’t have, and that most wrestlers turned actors don’t have. Dave Bautista also has it. That’s the reason I hired him for Guardians [of the Galaxy] in the first place. 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.”
Here is the synopsis for the HBO Max original series:
PEACEMAKER explores the continuing story of the character that John Cena reprises in the aftermath of executive producer James Gunn’s 2021 film The Suicide Squad – a compellingly vainglorious man who believes in peace at any cost, no matter how many people he has to kill to get it!
The series was created by James Gunn, who wrote all the episodes and directed five of them. The first season of the HBO Max series consists of eight episodes, with Brad Anderson, Jody Hill, and Rosemary Rodriguez also directing episodes. Clint Mansell and Kevin Kiner also composed the DC show’s score.
The HBO Max series stars John Cena, Danielle Brooks, Freddie Stroma, Chukwudi Iwuji, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agee, and Robert Patrick.
All episodes of Peacemaker are now streaming on HBO Max with the second season in development. Stay tuned for all the latest news surrounding the series and be sure to subscribe to Heroic Hollywood’s YouTube channel for more original video content.