Peacemaker Is a Fun, Sinister Palette Swap of Guardians of the Galaxy

James Gunn, John Cena DC’s Peacemaker HBO Max Review

Cena being a complete doofus while everyone else gets exasperated by his nonsense would be funny on its own, but Peacemaker perhaps wisely has decided to let its supporting cast be as weird and quirky as its lead character; it’s as if his strangeness is enhancing the frequency of everyone else’s oddities. In the moments where the cast gets to play off each other and react to one another, the show has shades of a workplace comedy in the vein of Archer or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s also when it’s at its strongest, thanks largely to Danielle Brooks’ hilarious Leota Adebayo, the most normal person of the bunch. Brooks brings a lot of charm to a character that should be as far away from everyone else as possible, and she has great chemistry with Cena and Jennifer Holland’s Emilia Harcourt. With everyone amped up to 11 all the time, it’s a riot whenever Adebayo brings things to a halt thanks to her inexperience or the absurdity of being a married lesbian taking a job as part of a black ops team.

Watching Peacemaker’s first three episodes that dropped on HBO Max, it’s clear that Gunn wants to make the most of his time with DC’s antihero and is having some fun in a way that the MCU movies don’t really allow. So yes, Peacemaker the character is leering towards women and gleefully has (or offers to) sleep with any woman who catches his eye. The action, particularly at the end of the pilot and later in episode three, is crunchy and nasty in a way The Suicide Squad’s action wasn’t… until it got to the fight between Peacemaker and Joel Kinnamon’s Rick Flag. (Flag’s death is mentioned a handful of times in the first two episodes and the scene is shown during the recap at the beginning of the pilot.) It’s also a lot weirder than its ads have made it seem, as Gunn indulges in the sort of freaky, body-snatcher horror that made his 2006 flick Slither a cult delight. With DC’s more grounded but nonetheless sillier characters like Freddie Stroma’s lovably stupid Vigilante and Nhut Le’s awesome but underused Judomaster on hand, Gunn continues to excel at casually delivering pain to human bodies as both a punchline and a display of horror in its own right.

Peacemaker is Gunn’s first show, and the transition from film to TV exacerbates Gunn’s weaker points that began cropping up when he started doing superhero movies. His writing has yet to be needlessly cruel to anyone as was the case with Mantis in Guardians 2 or Suicide Squad’s Polka-Dot Man, but he still has a habit of making banter be a little longer than it probably should be. Similarly, the second episode sees Peacemaker try to escape from an apartment complex, a sequence that takes up about half of the 40-minute episode when it could’ve been shorter. And like the aforementioned films, it feels like the show is in danger of over-escalating with its potentially world-ending threat, as a way to give Peacemaker a way to become the superhero he claims he is.

Image for article titled Peacemaker Is a Fun, Sinister Palette Swap of Guardians of the Galaxy

Image: HBO Max

But despite all that, Peacemaker manages to work and sell its absurd slice of the DC Universe. Two sequences best encapsulate the vibe the show is going for: the first is a riot of a montage when Peacemaker and Vigilante use weapons and explosives to blow shit up in the woods like two oversized children with nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon. The second closes out that same episode as Peacemaker’s father Auggie (Robert Patrick) smirks while being greeted by fellow white supremacists, all of them on their knees and saluting their returning leader. Fittingly for a show featuring body snatchers and where almost everyone is putting up emotional walls, Gunn puts a lot of foolishness and heart on display. But there’s also certainly something darker just waiting to make itself known.

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Also starring Steve Agee and Chukwudi Iwuji, Peacemaker premieres new episodes weekly on HBO Max.


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Source: Gizmodo

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