Peacemaker is the latest DC show to hit our screens, following on from the events of last year’s reboot/sequel The Suicide Squad. Written and directed by James Gunn, the man behind both The Suicide Squad and the Guardians of the Galaxy films, it shouldn’t be a massive surprise that Peacemaker is by far the best instalment in the DCEU to date.
After being shot and crushed under the rubble of Jotunheim in The Suicide Squad, Christopher Smith aka Peacemaker (John Cena) was saved and is recuperating in hospital with little more than a broken collarbone. After being discharged, he’s confronted by a number of agents working for Amanda Waller (Viola Davis); leader Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), newbie Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (Steve Agee). They give Smith a choice, to return to Belle Reve prison or to join a new mission dubbed ‘Project Butterfly’.
Reluctantly agreeing to join the mission, Smith visits his father Auggie (Robert Patrick) and retrieves his pet bald eagle, Eagly. After a meeting with the team, he learns that his first job as part of Project Butterfly is to assassinate a United States senator. However, after allowing the details of his mission to fall into the wrong hands, he winds up being attacked by a woman with superhuman strength and learns part of the truth behind the project. Together with his team and his crime-fighting partner Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), a masked fighter with no morals and a trigger-happy nature, they must complete the mission. But with the local cops on his trail and a racist, angry father who also happens to be a supervillain known as the White Dragon, the mission doesn’t quite go as planned.
When I heard they were making a TV series about Peacemaker, I was incredibly sceptical. The Suicide Squad was a great film but in this Peacemaker as a character wavered between being hilarious and being annoying, and I’ve never been a fan of John Cena either. But James Gunn has done the almost unthinkable and made a fantastic show out of what was originally an often unlikeable character. The Peacemaker we see here isn’t quite the same as the one we saw in The Suicide Squad. It appears that murdering Rick Flagg might have done Peacemaker some good, as Gunn has brought in a lot more emotion, a huge amount of heart and while admittedly at times he is still a bit of an idiot, he’s funny with it rather than annoying.
The show really digs into the heart and humanity behind Peacemaker, bringing a soul and likeability into someone we thought was a ruthless killing machine. This is in no large part down to John Cena, who is perfect for this character and effortlessly manages to pull off action, emotion and humour. He’s aided by a very witty, intelligent script that swings between humour and sheer stupidity, all of which are incredibly entertaining and enjoyable, and a supporting cast of characters that are all fleshed out and given their own times to shine. From the sarcastic, cynical Harcourt to the crazy, idiocy of Vigilante, everyone takes their share of the laughs and heart. Even the CGI created Eagly gets his own moments. This isn’t just a series about superheroes, it’s actually a heart-warming and hilarious tale of teamwork and friendship. Yes, really.
If you’ve ever seen any of James Gunn’s other work, then what he’s done with Peacemaker shouldn’t be a surprise. It has a cracking rock soundtrack, a whole host of pop culture references including Peacemaker having a pop at any of the other DC superheroes whenever he gets a chance. There’s also a nod to Gunn’s earlier work Slither in the form of how the butterflies ‘invade’. And I also have to give special mention to the opening credits sequence, which is by far the funniest and best I’ve ever seen and one that I will never get tired of watching. After the full run of 8 episodes, I still found it completely unskippable.
Despite being incredibly enjoyable, there are some slight criticisms. There was some rather dodgy CGI, especially when it featured characters travelling in vehicles that were obviously green-screened, and while the majority of the fight scenes were well choreographed and well shot, there were some that had a little too much shaky camera for my liking. I also found the ending of the series to be quite understated, especially for such a crazy story featuring superheroes, although they did make up for this with a rather hilarious cameo.
Peacemaker is a surprise hit and the best thing to come out of the DCEU so far. It’s funny, crazy, stupid and full of heart, making it an enjoyable, fantastic watch.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!