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The fight for peace

The fight for peace

In an all-action spin-off from the hit superhero movie The Suicide Squad, John Cena is Peacekeeper – a highly skilled operative with a decidedly misleading name…

By Chris Miller

There are a lot of things to love about the 2021 movie The Suicide Squad – its brilliantly deceptive opening sequence, a character whose superpower is controlling rats, a fantastically loopy Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn – and one of the biggest is Peacekeeper. The shiny-helmeted sharp-shooter played by John Cena has an… interesting outlook on the world. “I cherish peace with all my heart,” he explains. “But I don’t care how many men, women and children I have to kill to get it.”


For the most part, he doesn’t let this ludicrous contradiction bother him. But when he has to consider the lives of his comrades in arms, how long can that go on? That’s the question at the heart of the new TV series Peacemaker, in which Cena reprises the role described by writer/director James Gunn as “superhero/supervillain/world’s biggest douchebag”.


the series is fast-paced, funny, cartoonishly violent and packed with witty and unpredictable characters – much like The Suicide Squad itself, although it can certainly be enjoyed without full knowledge of the film that precedes it or the DC Extended Universe of which it’s a part. Here’s everything you need to know…


What’s Peacemaker all about then?

It’s not a spoiler – the clue’s in the movie’s title after all – to say that plenty of powered people don’t make it to the end of The Suicide Squad. It looks like Peacemaker is one but, as revealed in a post-credits clip, once he recovers from the injuries he suffered when a building fell on him, he’s offered the chance to join a new task force called Project Butterfly. Some nefarious parasites are causing extreme unpleasantness around the world, and it’s the team’s job to get rid.


It doesn’t sound exactly like Peacemaker’s bag but, given the choice of Project Butterfly or prison, Cena’s titular superchap reluctantly signs up.


John Cena – he’s a WWE wrestler, right?

That’s how he made his name, but he’s been acting since the mid-2000s and has appeared in everything from action movies (Bumblebee, Fast & Furious 9) to family films (Daddy’s Home, Playing With Fire) to raucous comedies (Sisters and the extremely underrated Blockers, in which he does unspeakable things during a beer-chugging contest).


Although he still makes occasional appearances in WWE, Cena’s a bona fide movie star these days – cemented by his memorable turn as Peacemaker – and he brings his huge charisma to the TV series. Also his huge arms. Have you seen them? They’re really, really huge.


Who else is in Peacemaker?

Also returning from the film are ARGUS agents Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (Steve Agee, known for his occasional but memorable role as Outside Dave in the sitcom New Girl), doing their best to control the complex Project Butterfly. Peacemaker, real name Christopher Smith, also gets a new super-partner in the form of Adrian Chase, aka Vigilante, who desires justice at all costs and really doesn’t care who gets in his way. He’s played by British actor Freddie Stroma, in something of a departure from his role as foppish Prince Friedrich in Bridgerton.


Completing the team are mercenary Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji, The Split) and Leota Adebayo, daughter of Viola Davis’s Agent Waller from the movie. She’s played by the always brilliant Danielle Brooks (Orange Is The New Black, The Day Shall Come) and Leota’s relationship with Peacemaker is at the heart of the show, as she forces him to confront some harsh truths about himself. His visits to his father Auggie (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2) bring some of those issues to light too.


Oh, and there’s also an eagle named Eagly.


Who’s the brains behind the show?

James Gunn, who wrote and directed The Suicide Squad, also scripted all eight episodes of the series and directed five, so don’t worry that you’re getting some kind of cheap knock-off – this is a real continuation of the story from the creative mind behind it. Gunn is one of the few directors to straddle the comic-book movie worlds of Marvel and DC successfully, having also made the two wildly entertaining Guardians Of The Galaxy films. He’s now working on GOTG Vol 3, which is due for release next year.


Gunn is certainly an idiosyncratic filmmaker: his early films like Slither and Super added some seriously dark comedy to the horror and superhero genres, and that delightfully weird sensibility remains intact in his work.


Which other DC superheroes are in the show?


That would, of course, be telling – but it’s no surprise that there are one or two heroic cameos along the way…


When is Peacemaker on TV?

Peacemaker starts on Sky Max/HD (CH 122/121) at 10pm on Tuesday 22 March, when all eight episodes will also be available in Catch Up > Channels > Sky Max

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