James Gunn Previews Peacemaker's "Very Specific" DC Comics References

After years of films, the storytelling of the DC Extended Universe is about to head into a new territory with Peacemaker, the franchise's first HBO Max television series. Picking up where 2021's The Suicide Squad left off, the show chronicles a new adventure for Christopher Smith / Peacemaker (John Cena), as he gets recruited in a new secret mission for the fate of the entire world. The project is a bit of an unexpected passion project for The Suicide Squad writer-director James Gunn, who wrote all eight episodes of Peacemaker and directed five of its installments, and it is safe to say that it showcases the DC universe from a unique angle.

Various trailers and clips from the series have shown Cena's Peacemaker spreading NSFW rumors about Aquaman and Wonder Woman, and the episodes are filled with name-drops and references to some of the most obscure characters of DC lore. While speaking to ComicBook.com about Peacemaker, Gunn addressed those references, and how they reflect Peacemaker's "very specific" relationship to the heroes and villains that surround him.

"It's almost like playing a massive prank on the DCU," Gunn revealed in our interview, which you can check out above. "I think I can't say there was some big thought process to it. I'm writing, and these things come up, and then I just sort of go with them. I do think that Peacemaker's relationship to other superheroes is very specific. He is envious. He wants to be in that holy trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. He is not. He wants to be a member of the Justice League, and they would never let him into the Justice League. He wishes that people loved him as much as they love Aquaman, but they don't."

"So he believes anything and kind of picks out what he wants to believe on the Internet, which any random Joe has tweeted or put on," Gunn continued. "He also doesn't quite understand the Internet. He's not very well versed in the Internet, so he sees something on Facebook, and somehow he thinks that's fact. But I think that it also serves his envy to be these things about people."

Peacemaker will star Cena, Danielle Brooks as Leota Adebayo, Robert Patrick as Auggie Smith, Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt, Steve Agee as John Economos, Freddie Stroma as Vigilante, Christopher Heyerdahl as Captain Locke, Chukwudi Iwuji as Clemson Murn, Lochlyn Munro as Larry Fitzgibbon, Annie Chang as Sophie Song, Elizabeth Faith Ludlow as Keeya, and Rizwan Manji as Jamil. 

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The first three episodes of Peacemaker will debut on Thursday, January 13th exclusively on HBO Max.