DC’s Peacemaker (Series Premiere Episodes) Review
After delivering one of DC’s best films to date with his take on The Suicide Squad, James Gunn brings the DCEU to the small screen and takes along one of the surviving squad members for a brutal, R-rated action-comedy series with Peacemaker.
Although the series is largely focused on Peacemaker (John Cena) returning home after surviving his nearly fatal gunshot wound from his duel with Bloodsport, the series can easily serve as a sequel to The Suicide Squad. Although Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) simply cameos in the first episode, her presence can still be felt in the rag tag A.R.G.U.S. team that Peacemaker is forced to work with – especially team leader Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji). Peacemaker is still reeling from killing Rick Flag and his final words calling Peacemaker “a joke” cause a deep identity crisis within Peacemaker that has him questioning everything. Not to mention, with Gunn returning to write and direct, all the bloody action, foul-mouthed humor, and adult content not only return, but are heavily amplified to fit Peacemaker’s ignorant and immature mindset.
If The Suicide Squad wasn’t enough to show that DC and Warner Bros are giving Gunn free reign, Peacemaker shows he’s completely off the leash. Outside of maybe The Boys and Invincible, Peacemaker is far and away the most adult comic book show to date and it’s no surprise since it stars a giant, gun-toting man-child and let’s his vision of the world be in charge. Every choice made for this series feels like it was almost made by Peacemaker himself because of how personally attached things feel to his character. From the amazing glam metal soundtrack to the strange opening that Gunn loves so much, it’s almost like Peacemaker is directing his own story. The more adult, immature comedy of Peacemaker equally feels that way as it’s not only persistent with Peacemaker’s character, but really is a vital part to the series as a whole.
Peacemaker’s sense of immaturity and unflinching beliefs that are delightfully brought out in Cena’s performance was what made him a major standout in The Suicide Squad, but here it’s in full force and can be felt throughout all the characters. The dialogue is littered with curse words in nearly every line, Peacemaker can barely contain egotistical sexual cravings, and there’s literally no filter on him to the point where he’s identified as racist and ignorant. It can certainly be a little much and over the top at times, but it’s a key component to what makes Peacemaker so hilarious.
Even when he’s being a narcissistic pig or displays his view of the world equivalent to a thirteen-year-old boy’s going through puberty, you still can’t help but love his dimwittedness and it’s largely because Cena’s performance is so great. Gunn and Cena are an amazing combination with the level of hilarity and bonkers action they can bring with Peacemaker, and the rest of the cast is equally hilarious. The comedic bouts between Peacemaker, team tech wiz Economos (Steve Agee), and Murn are amazing and the team’s two female additions, the incredibly badass Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and newbie Leota (Danielle Brooks), bring their own brand of comedy that’s constantly funny. Even better is when Peacemaker’s “friend but not a friend” Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) shows up with his own brand of adorable evil that’s a pure blast.
Just like The Suicide Squad, Gunn makes a band of misfits coming together a total joyride and the heart and personal growth that comes from this group might be some of his best story material yet. The choice of making Peacemaker’s story about breaking down his hyper-masculine walls and discovering who he is has a lot of great potential that’s already showing. His fractured relationship with his conspiratorial, domineering, and unsupportive racist father Augie (Robert Patrick) presents the opportunity for a lot of personal growth within Peacemaker, especially with Augie being positioned as the series’ main villain, and it’s been great to see him confront his own behavior through his interactions with his teammates, his unbridled adoration for glam metal, and Flag’s final words still haunting him. Gunn has literally taken one of DC’s lesser villains and given him an incredibly relevant story arc about masculinity full of strong dramatic emotion that Cena surprisingly nails.
Even the other characters have great story potential and interesting arcs that connect with Peacemaker’s. With complete control of the series, Gunn was actually able to create some original characters, mainly Leota and Murns, and he uses this opportunity to make Leota the daughter of Amanda Waller – a true first. It’s going to be interesting to see how Leota being Waller’s daughter plays into the overall arc of the mission given that Waller always has ulterior motives and Leota is actually building a budding friendship with Peacemaker and the team. Harcourt is already one of the best characters in the series for her sheer badassery and uncaring desire to be there and the slow-building relationship between her and Peacemaker has its touching moments. Oh, also, Peacemaker’s pet sidekick Eagly is possibly the best live-action sidekick of all time.
The villain potential is also strong at this point. Augie gaining resurgence as his villain alter ego the White Dragon in prison might make him try to fight against his son he isn’t on great terms with and doesn’t see as a “man.” This “Project Butterfly” mission is also presenting an interesting type of season storyline with an alien or bio-engineered antagonist that’s already proven to be a match for Peacemaker on multiple occasions. Not to mention, Waller’s presence is always looming so who knows what she could throw in.
With the excellent blend of hilarity and meaningful character moments that are elevated through great ensemble performances, this time led by Cena, and Gunn visionary direction, the sky is the limit for Peacemaker, and it already shows the potential to be one of DC’s best live-action stories to date.
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