Peacemaker Premiere Debuts a Controversial DC Comics Villain

The first three episodes of DC's Peacemaker debuted on Thursday, continuing the titular antihero's bizarre story in the DC universe. The live-action series, which is set after the events of The Suicide Squad, dives deep into the world of Christopher Smith / Peacemaker (John Cena) while seeding some interesting DC Comics ties along the way. That was especially the case for the series' second episode, which introduced a surprising — and controversial — villain from the pages of comics. Spoilers for Episode 2 of Peacemaker, "Best Friends, Never", below! Only look if you want to know!

One new character introduced in Peacemaker's debut was Auggie Smith (Robert Patrick), the titular character's father. The first episode showcased a bit of Chris and Auggie's problematic relationship, with Auggie having a conservative and offensive outlook on much of his son's exploits. It also showcased the fact that Auggie is directly involved with Chris' vigilantism as Peacemaker, constructing the various metal helmets that he wears out in the field.

Over the course of the first two episodes, Peacemaker accidentally killed a woman who appears to have alien tendencies and ties to the mysterious Project Butterfly, setting the authorities on his tail. Through a chain of events, John Economos (Steve Agee) doctored the evidence to frame Auggie for the murder instead, leading to him being arrested and thrown in jail. In the final scene of the second episode, Auggie was put into prison and quickly welcomed by some of the fellow prisoners, who began to bow and salute in his honor — and refer to him as "the White Dragon."

This ties Auggie to a surprising aspect of DC Comics history, as the White Dragon has been a mantle worn by various white supremacist villains over the years. The mantle first made an appearance in 1941's Flash Comics #23, but the most prominent incarnation is William Heller, who was created by John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell in 1987's Suicide Squad #4. A Neo-Nazi who wore an extravagant suit of armor while committing racist acts of vigilantism, Heller eventually faced off against the Suicide Squad and briefly became a member of the team, only for that to result in his death. The next incarnation of the character, Daniel Ducannon, was also a white supremacist who became an enemy of Hawkman. 

While Peacemaker's father isn't traditionally associated with the White Dragon mantle in the comics, this proves to be an interesting update to his traditional status quo. In the 1988 Peacemaker comic miniseries, his dad (named Wolfgang Schmidt) is an actual Nazi who was involved in World War II, and who killed himself on Chris' fifth birthday. As an adult, Chris became scarred by the ordeal, and was haunted by literal visions of his father, which were part of his motivation to crusade for peace. While we'll have to wait to see the extent of how the White Dragon mantle is utilized on the show, it's definitely an interesting twist out of the gate.

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New episodes of Peacemaker debut Thursdays exclusively on HBO Max.