I love Peacemaker, the new DC show on HBO Max starring professional wrestler-turned-actor John Cena. And that’s not just because I’m a fan of Mr. Cena himself. A number of factors combine to make Peacemaker the first live-action show from DC (can’t wait for Harley Quinn season 3) that I’ve truly cared about forever.
Having watched the first three episodes of Peacemaker on Thursday night, I found myself experiencing a kind of euphoria (no, not the HBO Max show), because it felt fresh and worthy of attention.
This isn’t meant to cast a shadow on fans of DC’s previous forays into television, but Peacemaker just strikes differently. So I thought I’d explain why.
Peacemaker will actually (probably) care more
From the start, I admit that we all have different measures of what makes something matter. I remember working in an office (remember that?) and listening to various colleagues rave about the latest episodes of DC shows. And so those shows mattered to them.
So, I say the following with no offense to Arrowverse acolytes, which includes fans of The Flash and the legions that follow DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. But Peacemaker belongs to a larger puzzle than just other shows. Peacemaker, if you haven’t caught what I’m throwing at it, is the first TV series in the canon DC Extended Universe.
That means it exists alongside the excellent Birds of Prey and some pretty fun movies like Aquaman and Shazam. On top of that, the DCEU has some exciting movies on the schedule, most notably The Flash (2022), which will star Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck as Batman, and Black Adam starring Cena’s old in-ring rival Dwayne Johnson. The connections to these movies are much more important to me than they are to other CW shows, because… well, CW shows have rarely gotten to me.
If he saw those aforementioned Arrowverse shows, which spun off from the Stephen Amell-directed Arrow, I bet he’d be just as upset with DC as he was happy with Peacemaker. Those shows were made without any connective tissue for the DC movies that were being pumped out at the same time, and as a result were passively made to make it seem unimportant.
And all of this is probably a side effect of being a fan of the Marvel movies. I just hope that all the properties that come from the same universe come together, and if a show doesn’t, I tend to think “time is precious, let’s move on”. I bet I’m probably missing it, and if I could appreciate a piece of art for its own sake, and not by thinking “this will be important”, I’d be able to open my mind. But that’s how my brain works right now.
James Gunn’s name is a promise.
Peacemaker arrives with an informal stamp of approval. It’s like James Gunn directing 2021’s The Suicide Squad (where Cena’s Peacemaker stems from) gave people reason to trust a movie with “Suicide Squad” in the title after the train wreck that was 2016’s Suicide Squad (loaded with the problem that is Leto’s Jared The Joker).
Given that Gunn (who also gave us the Guardians of the Galaxy movies) wrote every episode of Peacemaker, and directed five episodes including the first, the series feels exciting that a DC show is finally in the hands of an author. No offense to Greg Berlanti, who worked on many Arrowverse shows and shows like Dawson’s Creek, but I have a lot more faith in Gunn when it comes to making me care.
And Peacemaker started out with exactly the kind of quality I was hoping for. The jokes crackle with humor; Peacemaker continues to surprise with the stupid things he says; and the show’s soundtrack is too good to surprise (especially, again, because of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks). Just as Gunn made us worry about a raccoon wanting to steal body parts, he’s got me captivated by a troublesome C-tier DC comics character in Peacemaker.
Oh, and Robert Patrick is in it too.
Peacemaker has an excellent supporting cast, but so far I’m most excited about what Robert Patrick (yes, the Terminator’s T-1000) is doing as Peacemaker’s father.
Herein, in fact, lies one of my favorite things about Peacemaker. Like WandaVision and other Marvel shows, this series allows one character (this time Christopher Smith, the man under the glowing sink-like helmet) to gain a greater dimension.
And so Robert Patrick plays August “Auggie” Smith, the man who (as Gunn’s The Suicide Squad told us) trained his son to kill from a young age. There are no spoilers for the show, but it seems that Chris inherited some of his worst traits from his father, who we quickly learned is a very dark guy.
Peacemaker makes HBO Max Thursdays unmissable
In the early episodes of Peacemaker, the titular anthem has often referred to DC’s biggest heroes, reminding us that this series could bring the next DCEU Batman or Superman (neither is chosen yet, for what it’s worth). And those first three episodes were so much fun that I now have a TV date on Thursdays for the first time in a long time. I wish this had been the plan all along.
And if that’s not enough, Peacemaker has a pet eagle named Eagly. Who is lovable.