‘Peacemaker’ is everything Marvel’s Disney+ shows are not

A refreshing addition to the platform’s lineup


Peacemaker Promotional Photo

By Will Duffy, Collegian Contributor

Not so long ago, WWE alumni in a movie’s main cast was a bad omen, if not a death sentence. Whether it’s Hulk Hogan producing some truly terrible comedies during his wrestling career or Dwayne Johnson starring in the same mediocre action flick every year, playing the same cookie-cutter action hero in all of them, professional wrestlers simply did not have a good history on the big screen.

The choice to cast John Cena in “The Suicide Squad” was a brave one, to say the least. Thankfully, it paid off. Cena expertly and hilariously portrays Christopher Smith, also known as Peacemaker, a hardened killer, and a parody of ultra-nationalistic “peaceful” sentiment. Cena’s character was so beloved that even with a sharp heel turn near the movie’s conclusion, audiences were sad to see him go. Luckily for us, the post-credits scene confirmed what we were all hoping — Peacemaker was very much alive and getting his very own spinoff show. I remember leaving the theater cautiously optimistic that James Gunn could give the DC extended universe the superhero show it truly deserves.

“Peacemaker” starts right where “The Suicide Squad” leaves off — Smith in the hospital recovering from the near-fatal injuries sustained during his fight with Bloodsport. After sneaking out, it’s revealed that he has been recruited into a top-secret mission alongside Task Force X alumni Project Butterfly.

Led by Clemson Murn, a mercenary with a similarly shady past to Smith, the group is pitted against an alien race known as the butterflies, a race capable of possessing humans, retaining their memories and posing as them, “The Thing”-style. Smith must deal with both the butterflies and a conflict involving his father, the leader of a white supremacist militia group, who also happens to be the retired villain White Dragon.

As the title suggests, “Peacemaker” is a clear deviation from what we’ve seen in other superhero shows in recent years, particularly from Marvel. Unlike Marvel’s Disney+ originals lineup, “Peacemaker” is not afraid to be grotesquely violent nor hilariously vulgar. For fans of raw, bloody fight scenes, “Peacemaker” has it all and then some. It’s R-rated in every sense of the word, just like “The Suicide Squad.”

The show also doesn’t suffer a nosedive in quality halfway through. The plotline doesn’t become messy or uninteresting, and the characters are well-written and fleshed out. “Peacemaker” has a lovable cast of characters, some of which audiences may remember from “The Suicide Squad,” including John Economos and Emilia Harcourt. They have fantastic chemistry and make every episode worth watching. We get to see Smith develop alongside his teammates and experience some truly heartwarming moments with them throughout the show. It’s a much-needed change of pace for those who have been disappointed by superhero shows in recent years.

“Peacemaker” boasts everything I loved about “The Suicide Squad.” However, it also boasts everything I didn’t. Most notably, poor comedic timing. Its humorous tone can be a bit much and many dramatic moments are ruined for the sake of a cheap one-liner. The show tried to be edgy for the sake of being edgy. Some of the gross-out humor is played out a bit too much to be funny.

Its politics also felt a bit too in-your-face to me, particularly at the end when the butterflies’ leader chastises humanity for “following populist leaders” and “treating minor inconveniences as assaults on your freedom.” It seems the invading alien race spent too much time on Twitter.

John Cena recently confirmed “Peacemaker’s” renewal for a second season, and I can honestly say I’m hooked.

Will Duffy can be reached at [email protected].