HBO Max’s Peacemaker has unsurprisingly little to do with the source material put out by Charlton and DC that preceded it and there is a huge reason why the adult-oriented spin goes in its own direction.
That reason is the driving force behind the series, The Suicide Squad writer and director James Gunn, who did not want his star John Cena digging through back issues for inspiration.
On the show’s companion podcast, Podly, Cena commented he was prepared “to get every comic or periodical or anything about Peacemaker and study up.” But Gunn said no to that.
And as such, Cena “did not read any comics before or during production.” To Gunn, “because many different artists have given different interpretations of Peacemaker,” it was up to him and Cena to “craft” a new one in this generation.
Cena added, “I think he didn’t want me to read those comics because he didn’t want me to develop biases,” that would interfere with the reimagining of Peacemaker as a “douchey Captain America” that doesn’t come from the Charlton comics.
James Gunn obviously kept some things such as the costume, the Dove of Peace logo, the absurdly long handgun – a Desert Eagle – and the unmistakable helmet which is often compared to a toilet bowl and seat.
But Gunn also likes to inject his R-rated brand of meta humor and often to the detriment of the material.
In the HBO Max series and The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker is another flawed and insecure wannabe hero with daddy issues in over his head. He’s Peter Quill for mature audiences.
Paul Kupperberg gave the Silver Age hero a dark past when DC acquired and relaunched him but you could still take the stories seriously.
During the Charlton days under Pat Boyette and Joe Gill, more importantly, Christopher Smith didn’t possess an urge to kill in order to keep the peace. He reserved the use of force under the pretense of super-heroics but his means and ordnance were nonlethal.
Fast forward 50 years and Gunn’s grittier, gorier, sci-fi take on Peacemaker is on the cusp of its season finale in the next episode.
Are you surprised at all by Gunn’s deliberate, if not rigid, clean-slate approach to Peacemaker? Or have you liked John Cena’s performance, regardless? Has their lack of study helped or hurt the series? Opine your thoughts below.