Is Peacemaker a Prequel or Sequel? James Gunn Explains The Suicide Squad Spinoff

What the f*ck is Peacemaker? Series creator James Gunn says the spin-off, starring John Cena as the peace-keeping killer he plays in The Suicide Squad, is part prequel and part sequel to the DC Extended Universe movie. WarnerMedia announced Peacemaker for the HBO Max streaming service in September, revealing the action-comedy series will "explore the origins of...the master of weapons" from Gunn's Suicide Squad. Spoiler warning. After he's shot in the neck by Bloodsport (Idris Elba), a post-credits scene sets up Peacemaker when ARGUS agents Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (Steve Agee) report for the "douchebag's" next mission: "To save the f*cking world."

"Through the story, you learn where Peacemaker came from," Gunn told Variety about Peacemaker's place in the DCEU timeline. "There's a moment in [The Suicide Squad] where Bloodsport talks about his father and what his father was like, and you cut to a shot of Peacemaker, and Peacemaker nods. That's the seed of the entire Peacemaker series."

The series unmasks Cena's helmeted Christopher Smith, the son of Auggie Smith (Scorpion's Robert Patrick), revealing "where he came from, what he's done, what that means to him, and where he's going after all of this."

Peacemaker HBO Max
(Photo: WarnerMedia / HBO Max)

For all his dirty deeds in The Suicide Squad, Smith is "not an evil person, he's just a bad guy," Gunn said. "He seems sort of irredeemable in the film. But I think that there's more to him. We didn't get a chance to know him [in The Suicide Squad] in the way we get to know some of the other characters. And so that's what the whole show is about. I needed eight episodes to do it, at least."

Peacemaker believes in peace at any cost — no matter how many men, women, or children he has to kill to get it — but beneath his toilet seat-looking helmet is someone who "feels like he's on the outside."

"So that moment in [the bar] La Gatita Amable, when he's dancing with [the team], and they're becoming connected to each other for the first time — that is an unusual feeling for him," Gunn explained of a sequence in The Suicide Squad. The patriot is remorseful when — spoiler warning — he's forced to kill fellow soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to prevent him from exposing secrets ARGUS Director Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) keeps to protect the American government.

"When he goes with his ideals over that sense of connection — his weird ideals, admittedly — he's making that choice over his own emotions," Gunn said. "The show is about that."

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Gunn previously told Entertainment Tonight that the action-packed Peacemaker has "more action than any superhero show ever," calling the spin-off "a big science fiction movie" that is like The Suicide Squad but "even more grounded, more natural, and more real."

Starring John Cena, Danielle Brooks, Robert Patrick, Chukwudi Iwuji, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agee, and Freddie Stroma, Peacemaker premieres January 2022 on HBO Max.