After making a miraculous recovery, Peacemaker returns home–only to discover that his freedom comes at a price.
Spoiler Level: Spoilers are warned ahead of time
Since the successful blockbuster release of The Suicide Squad, John Cena’s Chris “Peacemaker” Smith has been a hit for the audience; strong, witty, funny, and flawed deeply and in so many ways. So when James Gunn announced that there would be a Peacemaker series on HBO Max, many fans (myself included) got excited about seeing this breakout character on screen again.
After watching the first three debut episodes of the series, I can tell that this will be a highly successful show that continues to encompass the witty and creative styles of Gunn and Cena, but because of a particular scene and character trait, I’m not sure yet if I’ll be able to keep watching the series.
This series picks up where The Suicide Squad left off – Peacemaker being released from the hospital after recovering from his almost fatal injuries he suffered from on Corto Maltese. To his benefit, he realizes he does not need to go back to prison, but he is quickly picked up by a small group being lead by Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), and remotely directed by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). This new team encompasses characters we’ve seen from The Suicide Squad movie; Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), Economos (Steve Agee), newcomer Leota (Danielle Brooks). From there, they inform Peacemaker that he has two options: go back to jail, or become a hitman for their mission “Project Butterfly”. Oh, and if he tries to abandon his mission, they can still blow his head off with the explosive device that’s still in his head from Project Starfish.
From there, action and hilarity ensue. What I love about this show is that it continues the style and pattern that made The Suicide Squad successful; it has great writing, wonderful acting, amazing cinematography, and Gunn’s signature of using classic rock as a storytelling device that has you jamming out to the music and the scene. The writing is done really well, having a great balance of action, comedy, relationships, and character development. We are already seeing many character conflicts, as Peacemaker struggles with his previous notion of “keeping the peace” and if killing men, women, and children is worth it, especially in light of finding out he’s perceived as a racist villain. Leota’s relationship with her wife and her story of how she joined the team makes a compelling side story that takes on a dramatic story of her own, and Murn’s ominous background keeps the aura of mystery in the series to keep you interested in all characters involved.
Cena is killing it as Peacemaker. He continues his great acting, action, and comedy skills in this show that we’ve all come to love about him. But he’s not the only actor in the series that’s doing a phenomenal job. Holland is amazing as a witty, hilarious fighting member of the team that easily shines as a star in the series as well. Brooks and Agee’s banter and interactions with everyone and each other will leave you laughing hard for minutes, and Freddie Stroma’s Vigilante is a great character, serving as another comic relief to the show as Peacemaker’s unwanted friend, but also serves as a great didactic character parallel to Peacemaker as well.
With that said, I do have two main issues with the show that is potentially problematic for me (personally) that may prevent me from continuing to watch the series.
WARNING: This section will contain spoilers for the series.
First, there is a strong string of racist, sexist, and homophobic language that is shared and used by Peacemaker and most notably his father, Auggie Smith (Robert Patrick), whom we find out later is the racist character from the DC Comics, White Dragon. So it makes sense that Auggie’s character encompasses this kind of language as part of his character to emphasize his problematic traits. However, Peacemaker also shares some of this language in the show as well, albeit milder than his father (the only exception is that it appears he hasn’t used racist language yet unless I am not recalling correctly). Right now it’s been used humorously by Cena which is fine, but for me, it needs to be a character development opportunity that allows Peacemaker to realize why this is problematic and abandons these traits and ideology that he learned from his father completely. So far, it seems like it is going in that direction which is good. But if the season ends where it ends up being used as a cheap comedy device, then I don’t know if I can stand behind this show.
The second major issue I have is most notably from the fact that I am a parent, and I recognize that this may not be the same experience for all parents, but I think it’s worth noting to let you know. In the third episode, there is a scene where a family of four (husband, wife, son, daughter) has been “taken over” in an almost zombie-like state by some foreign, winged insect entity (hence “Project Butterfly”), and Peacemaker has been ordered to assassinate them by heavy sniper fire. Fortunately, Peacemaker is struggling with the idea of executing women and children, and we see that he can’t go through with it, which is what we want to see as a character wrestling to become a better version of themselves. Unfortunately, Vigilante steps in and does it for him.
Now, we do not actually see on screen the execution of the children (although we do see the wife being executed). But he does it and they confirm this off-screen. This is a very disturbing scene which I as a viewer understand why they did this; we see Peacemaker’s reaction to this event and how he’s struggling with this idea, and that’s great for his development and growth. But as a parent, you tend to see any child in film or tv series as your own, and I just cannot handle watching a show that shows the murder of children, no matter what the circumstances are. And I’m willing to bet I’m not alone here. So if you are a parent, please be forewarned about this.
Overall, this is a great series and will be very successful and will set the standard for future DCEU shows. It has all of the creative and exciting traits that Gunn brings to his craft. But for me personally, I personally may need to hit pause on watching the show due to some of its disturbing scenes and themes.
Peacemaker 101-103: He Brought Out The Big Guns, For Better Or For Worse
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 9/109/10
Production - 8/108/10
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