James Gunn Says John Cena’s Peacemaker Is “a Bad Guy” as He Teases HBO Max Spinoff



When The Suicide Squad hits theaters (and HBO Max) in August, it’s not the last we’ll see of writer/director James Gunn’s vision for this universe. As soon as Gunn put the finishing touches on his first-ever DC movie, he went out and wrote a spinoff TV series revolving around John Cena’s character Peacemaker, aptly titled Peacemaker. The show is set to debut in early 2022 on HBO Max, and our first look at the new series has arrived courtesy of Empire Magazine.

Speaking to Empire, Gunn noted very clearly that Peacemaker is not a TV show about a hero. In fact, the Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker goes so far as to say Cena’s character is “a piece of shit,” adding that he’s “not a good guy” and “he wears the goofiest costume you’ve ever seen in your life.”

RELATED: ‘The Suicide Squad’ Gets R Rating for “Brief Graphic Nudity”

So then why did Gunn want to make a TV show about such a repuslvie character? Well, he found Peacemaker’s strict moral code – and the struggle within – fascinating:

“Peacemaker has a clear set of ideals that I find really interesting. You know: ‘I want peace no matter how many men, women and children I need to kill to get it.’ Sounds like nonsense, but it also makes a lot of sense. And you see in John’s performance how he does not feel good about it – something I thought was the seed of an entire eight-episode show.”


Image via HBO Max

Gunn directed five of the show’s eight episodes himself, so when Peacemaker arrives it’s not some second-tier offshoot of The Suicide Squad – it’s an extension of that story from the same storyteller. The filmmaker tells Empire the HBO Max series involves “a big science-fiction story” that also hits on real world issues, adding:

“He represents a part of the world populace that is problematic to say the least, and puts him in a situation where he has to face the choices he’s made throughout his life and the extremity of his views.”

While Gunn and Co. have been mum on whether Peacemaker takes place before or after the events of The Suicide Squad so as to not spoil the fate of Cena’s character in the movie, Cena tells Empire that the show asks the question, “At what point did he become such a douchebag and what does that mean?”, suggesting the series could very well be an origin story of sorts.

Cena isn’t the only actor reprising his Suicide Squad role from the movie, as Steve Agee returns as John Economos, Jennifer Holland is back as Emilia Harcourt, and there could be a few other surprises as well. New characters include Robert Patrick as Auggie Smith and Danielle Brooks as Leota Adebayo.

The series is part of an initiative on the part of Warner Bros. to approach each of its DC movies with the potential for an HBO Max TV series component, as there’s also a prequel series in the works connected to the highly anticipated upcoming reboot The Batman.

While we probably won’t get a trailer for Peacemaker until after The Suicide Squad hits theaters, these quotes illuminate quite a bit in terms of what we’re in store for here. Namely this is not your average CW superhero series. Get ready for something dark.

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