Peacemaker: James Gunn Explains Why John Cena Got The Suicide Squad Spinoff

The Peacemaker series is heading to HBO Max this month, following John Cena's debut in the titular role in 2021's The Suicide Squad movie. The Suicide Squad writer and director James Gunn is bringing his unique brain to the series, directing most of the episodes himself, including the well-reviewed premiere which has seen the first reactions surfacing online already. The choice to continue Peacemaker's story after The Suicide Squad seemed like an easy one for Gunn, despite having introduced many popular characters in the DC Comics film. In a recent chat with Supes, Gunn opened up about continuing the Peacemaker story.

"Number one, I really got along with John Cena. We became really good friends," Gunn said when asked why Peacemaker was the character he wanted to work with again. "He's a funny guy and I thought it would be fun to continue working with him." Cena's career trajectory as an actor recently has been quite impressive. The WWE Superstar turned Hollywood actor had roles in The Suicide Squad, F9, and Vacation Friends in 2021 – in addition to headlining WWE's Summerslam event in a title match against Roman Reigns.

As integral as Cena is to Gunn's Peacemaker series, there was plenty of character-related influences which went into deciding which character to develop in a spinoff. "I also think that a lot of the other characters we saw in The Suicide Squad, we saw big changes in them," Gunn pointed out. Ratcatcher-2 changed a lot. Bloodsport changed a lot. Polka-Dot Man changed a lot. Peacemaker kind of remained the unrepentant S.O.B. that he was at the beginning of the movie and I knew that there was a lot deeper to go with the character. John and I had talked about where the character came from, who he was, who his father was, and all these different things that we didn't get to see in the movie. So, I knew there was a lot more story there to explore."

DC Comics fans familiar with the Peacemaker character from the books know that there is more lore to the character than his colorful costume, big handgun, and shiny helmet that was seen in The Suicide Squad. In fact, Peacemaker's controversial backstory of being trouble by the ghost of his Nazi lineage and he believes that his helmet contains the voices of his victims. Whether that element or the sonic boom ability that it offers in comics is coming to the series is unknown, though it seems like Gunn is teasing the exploration of such details! 

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"You'll find out some things about Peacemaker's helmet in the series that you didn't find out in The Suicide Squad," Gunn said. "You'll find out a lot of different things about Peacemaker, what his talents are, what his gifts are but also you'll find out about his crew."

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As for whether or not Peacemaker will roll into a Season 2, Gunn joked, "We're gonna have 87 seasons of Peacemaker. We're ready to go!" More seriously, the extended runtime of the series compared to the runtime of The Suicide Squad has Gunn quite enthused for what the audience will see of Cena's character. "I do think that the TV format, it brings you a lot of freedom that film doesn't," he explained. "Film, is so short, you have to keep that plot going from scene to scene. In the Peacemaker show, we were able to take a lot of risks, a lot of chances, explore dramatic elements that we aren't able to do in a movie, explore comedy in a way that we aren't, and have incredibly long, incredibly high octane action sequences that take place in every single episode. It really just is everything I love: comedy, drama, action, all in one TV series that doesn't take itself too seriously but in other ways takes itself very seriously."

Are you excited to get to know Peacemaker? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram! Peacemaker debuts on HBO Max on January 13.