Not only one of DC's best films as of late, "The Suicide Squad" proved once again that James Gunn knows the real gold lies deep within the vast comic book canon. He is now tasked with overseeing the entirety of the DC Universe, and his film about a ragtag team of villains remains his proof of concept for a new, revamped DC cinematic universe. After the release of "The Suicide Squad," Gunn seized the opportunity to expand the story of Peacemaker, an obscure villain that quickly became a fan-favorite thanks to an inspired performance by John Cena. To Gunn, it was clear that the foundation laid by his team-up movie was enough to branch the character off into a spin-off series, aptly titled "Peacemaker."

A straight-up fantastic television series in its own right, "Peacemaker" may very well be Gunn's magnum opus in the superhero genre. It features his patented humor, a heavy dose of heart, and an off-the-wall storyline that isn't afraid of pulling from every corner of the source material. Cena is even better the second time around, pulling off a nuanced performance that somehow doubles down on the wildness while portraying a tortured soul looking for acceptance. The makings of this great character study were set in "The Suicide Squad," and Gunn knew he had to make it a reality with "Peacemaker."

'He's This Awkward Guy'

In an interview with Radio Times, James Gunn revealed that exploring Peacemaker post-"The Suicide Squad" seemed natural, considering "there was a lot of depth to the character that we didn't get to see." That depth was explored by Gunn alongside John Cena, creating a deeply-layered picture of Peacemaker with room for further growth. Gunn explained:

"He's this awkward guy who just can't let friendship in, and is always insecure. And yet he's so boisterous, and he brags about himself so much. There isn't a bragger that isn't insecure, because the reason to be a bragger is to convince yourself and other people that you're worth a s*** when you're not, when you don't feel you are."

Out of the leads in "The Suicide Squad," Peacemaker's character development was thin in comparison to the likes of Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and Ratcatcher (Daniela Melchior). Sure, Peacemaker was a vital aspect of the movie's narrative (including its biggest plot twist), but any potential to get to the root of his personal issues was left untapped. Gunn said it best: "I just felt he had the most gold to mine, at least at this point in time." Thankfully, we got "Peacemaker."

Looking For A Friend

Look, I'll be honest. I think John Cena did a fantastic job playing a ridiculous villain in "The Suicide Squad." However, at first glance, an exploration of the character and the resulting redemption arc seemed a bit far-fetched, even for Gunn. He is pretty despicable in that film, and (spoiler alert) kills off a great character in Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). Of course, Gunn proved me and probably a lot of other people wrong. "Peacemaker" hits all the markers of an entertaining and action-packed superhero show, but above all, it wears its heart on its sleeve.

Peacemaker, whose actual name is Christopher Smith, displays a lot of vulnerability under a thin veil of old-fashioned machismo. Throughout the first season, "Peacemaker" spells out a personal journey for the titular character that eventually has him reconcile with his father's past and gain a new lease on life with a group of friends that actually like him. He's not a perfect person by any means and still isn't actually that great of a person, but "Peacemaker" did a lot to prove that even the worst of the worst might just have some good in them.

A second season is on the way, though we're not sure when we'll get it because, if you haven't noticed, Gunn has been quite busy lately. The first season of "Peacemaker" is available on HBO Max.

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