Taking inspiration from the series itself, I’m not going to overburden this review with too much flowery analysis or beat around the bush; Peacemaker kicks ass. A colorful, joyful, and strangely thoughtful and introspective mini-series based around an antagonist from 2021’s Suicide Squad, the story follows Peacemaker, or Chris Smith, as he is pulled into another undercover operation to save the world from an extraterrestrial threat with a team of black ops frejects, and his two best friend, his overeager and socially inept sidekick, and his pet eagle, Eagley.
I can understand that on the surface, this might not sound like much. A bland sci-fi premise for a superhero show, from D.C. which has become rather known for bland sci-fi superhero stories. What makes this one special? What distinguishes it from the torrent of superhero media that followed the incredible success of the MCU? Well, they can say the f word.
It must be understood that a basic or even unoriginal plot does not necessarily mean a poor story has been made, provided a couple of caveats; if the plot isn’t driving the characters, than the characters should drive the plot, (which many literary analysts, myself included, think should be the case regardless,) and if the plot is doing something unoriginal or overdone, that immediately becomes a canvas to provide an interesting twist towards the end as the story we actually experience strays further and further from the one we expect. In these regards, Peacemaker is exemplary. It is fairly common in these sort of stories that writers will get by with simply implying that that the characters are a group of misfits who form a family, but really the most important characterization most of them get are their costumes and their skill sets (looking at you Suicide Squad 2016) in order to create a faximile of the bonds and acceptance that audience members either have experienced or desire, thus acting as a cheap way to attempt to deepen the story. Peacemaker again bucks this trend, focusing so heavily on its characters that it’s clear within two episodes that there aren’t enough psych texts in the world to begin to decode the collective trauma, insecurities, abuses, and other mental health issues the cast of heroes we follow share between them. These are not heroes who are a little rough around the edges, these are battered, broken people who have done or taken part in horrible things, and have suffered in unique ways. To be honest, the incredible action sequences that feel like they are truly their own, not done to imitate a popular style, fall short of the series’ true high points; seeing Peacemaker free himself from his horrible father, question his own beliefs, and the beautiful character arc witnessed as the audience realizes more and more that Chris was always a good, kind man who truly did love peace, and doesn’t really want to kill anyone for it, sold by, and I can’t believe I”m saying this, an incredible performance from John Cena. Seeing him grow to care for the diverse, initially antagonistic, and almost as maladjusted group of secret agents is a treat, particularly his friendship with the audience surrogate, Leota Adebyo. Her status as perhaps the most mentally healthy of our cast coincides well with her status as the least experienced and least invested in black ops, a funny, kind person who’s only completing this one assignment with the crew to pay the bills for her and her wife to start anew. Honestly, I don’t want to go into too much more detail here, but instead emphatically encourage you to watch this on the HBO Max account you have access to, that totally doesn’t belong to your mother’s cousin’s ex-roommate This might be a first for my reviews, but I have nothing negative to say about the series. I just had a blast. I’m sure that upon further rewatches, there are problems that will present themselves to me, but as it stands, I am completely happy with my experience watching the show. I enjoyed everything about it, from the intro credits that might just be the most memorable and amazing since Game of Thrones, to the end credits of the last episode. So, I will, one more time, implore you to enjoy the vulgar, unflatteringly human masterpiece that is James Gunn’s Peacemaker.