If you’re not already on board with HBO Max’s “Peacemaker” series, a new featurette from Warner Bros. might get you interested. The five-minute video titled “What’s Not To Love About Peacemaker?” interviews John Cena’s castmates from “The Suicide Squad” about what makes the character a standout, with added insight from James Gunn and Cena himself.
Gunn explains why he decided to spotlight Peacemaker with the new show, saying that when imagining a multi-season series, it makes sense to “start with kind of the guy that’s the worst because he has the biggest changes to make.” To anyone else, that might sound like extra work, but it’s not surprising given Gunn’s track record of audacious filmmaking.
I’ll admit I was baffled when I heard the new show would spotlight the character that last year’s “The Suicide Squad” revealed as a ruthless war criminal. But it’s clear through these interviews that the team behind “Peacemaker” has given the character a lot of thought. Cena explains how Peacemaker’s silly uniform, which includes what Joel Kinnaman calls a “silver toilet on his head,” is a symbol of his character’s need for validation. He should be dressed stealthily, but instead he draws attention to himself, even going so far as to put an invented personal logo on his weapons.
A Spotlight On Cena’s Comedic Chops
Gunn calls Peacemaker’s M.O. “toxic masculinity at its most toxic,” explaining that he’s a “dude-bro” who can’t connect easily with other people. He points out that the antihero feels like an outsider anywhere he goes, giving the recent movie’s bus scene — in which Peacemaker stays silent while the others connect — as an example. In clips from the new series, we see that Peacemaker’s only friend is his pet eagle, appropriately named Eagly.
While it’s great to see that Gunn and his team have put a lot of thought into this character, none of his backstory or psychology compels me to watch the new show. I start to understand why “Peacemaker” exists a bit more, though, when the cast and crew start talking about the role Cena took on set. Gunn describes the actor in the highest terms, calling him “the best improv artist I’ve ever worked with in my life.” Co-star David Dastmalchian says Cena’s superpower is to make people laugh, while Steve Agee can’t get over the fact that the actor taught himself piano between takes while filming the movie.
It sounds like “Peacemaker” isn’t necessarily aiming to redeem its mercenary main character, but to make us laugh at his expense. If you haven’t already given the new show a try, this featurette makes a pretty convincing case to start it.
The first three episodes of “Peacemaker” are now streaming on HBO Max.
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