Peacemaker Makes Dark Joke About Vigilante's Tragic Backstory from the Comics

Warning: this story contains spoilers for Peacemaker Episodes 1-3. Peacemaker unmasks Vigilante as Adrian Chase (Freddie Stroma): busboy by day and costumed scourge of the criminal underworld by night. A self-described born killer who idolizes his inspiration, the violent vigilante Christopher Smith (John Cena), Stroma's Adrian Chase is described by series creator James Gunn as a "sweet" sociopath — and a worse version of his hero. When the masked maniac crashes a Project Butterfly mission to save the world in Episode 3, "Better Goff Dead," a dark joke tucked away in a post-credits scene hints at Vigilante's tragic backstory from the DC comic books. 

On stakeout to assassinate U.S. Senator Royland Goff (Antonio Cupo), a suspected Butterfly, Peacemaker handler Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) threatens Vigilante: "If you f-ck up this mission, I will kill your f-cking family."

"Oh, okay," laughs Vigilante, "a little late for that!" 

In the comics, Chase is a district attorney turned vengeful vigilante. After a bomb planted by the mob kills his wife and children, Chase takes the law into his own hands​ as a costumed crusader, taking aim at the guilty to protect the innocent. The justice-obsessed Chase explains his mission as judge, jury, and executioner in 1983's Vigilante #1:"I go after those proven guilty of crimes who are then released because of some stupid technicality." 

(Photo: DC Comics)

"We have Peacemaker, who's a guy who obviously has a conscience. Despite the bad stuff he does, he does have reasoning behind what he does. Some of it may be a rationalization for why he's venting his anger, but he does have a philosophy behind it," Gunn said during a Peacemaker press junket. "Vigilante is a very different sort of 'hero.' I think that I created Vigilante for the show because I thought, 'If you really are a guy that puts on a costume and goes around and murders people, just cold-blooded murders people who you think are bad guys, who are you really? Who is this person really?' He was an interesting character to play with because he is a sociopath."

Peacemaker's version of Adrian Chase "does not seem to have a conscience, and more so, he doesn't seem to have emotions," Gunn pointed out. "He has a lot of issues. He's not really able to pick up on people's facial expressions. He's not very in tune with other human beings. And yet, despite all of this, there's this sort of, dare I say, sweetness about him that comes from Freddie's performance and comes from the fact that he, in such a vulnerable way, adores Peacemaker."

Gunn added, "He's a worse version of Peacemaker in many ways, but also not without things that we can like about him."

Starring John Cena, Danielle Brooks, Freddie Stroma, Jennifer Holland, Chukwudi Iwuji, Steve Agee, and Robert Patrick, new episodes of DC's Peacemaker premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.