Even after the end of Avengers which saw Marvel ‘retiring’ a number of mainstream superheroes, the company is thriving still, making sure their other superhero movies largely successful and creating a number of TV shows for quite a few superheroes who weren’t under the limelight during Avengers days. While it looks as if everything Marvel touches in terms of TV and cinema turns to gold, DC Extended Universe too is trying their level best to capture the audience via new movies and TV shows with a varying degree of successes. The latest DC TV show Peacemaker however, seems to finally have managed to crack the ‘how to be a successful TV show’ code and dare I say, the best superhero series on TV at the moment, surpassing all current Marvel TV shows.
It looks as if, what DC lacked in terms of producing a successful superhero movie or a TV show was a touch of Marvel-ness and they found exactly that for Peacemaker via the creator and the director James Gunn who is the director of ever-popular Marvel superhero movie franchise, The Guardians of the Galaxy.
It was exciting to hear that Gunn was going to direct the reboot of The Suicide Squad and it is safe to say that he didn’t disappoint. The movie was a huge success and it introduced a lot of lesser-known DC antiheroes such as Peacemaker to the audience. John Cena’s portrayal of the brutal, feeling-less and yet funny and lovable Peacemaker managed to please the crowds so much that the company decided to capitalise on the popularity by giving the character his own TV show. Luckily, the directing of the show also went to Gunn who successfully managed to create the movie magic on the small screen as well.
Peacemaker picks up from where the movie left off. After the project starfish which saw Peacemaker going against Bloodsport which ultimately ended up in favour of the latter, the gun-slinging antihero is hospitalised and again found his freedom limited. However, he manages to escape the hospital in a surprisingly easy manner but he soon realises his freedom comes at a price. Peacemaker is recruited by a group of individuals who are on a secret mission and for Peacemaker to have his plate wiped clean of his all previous wrong doings he must see to the successful completion of the mission. However, daddy issues, betrayal, identity crises, aliens, and heartbreak make Peacemaker’s job a hard one but one that is exciting to watch nonetheless.
There are quite a few drivers which make Peacemaker a successful show but among them, the main reason is how good of a job John Cena has done in portraying Peacemaker. Seriously, it is hard to believe the WWE star who is a popular figure in the ring can actually deliver such a versatile act which looks deadpan on surface level but actually pretty emotional. Wrestlers turned actors such as Dwayne Jonson or Steve Austin are usually known for overacting, deadpan expressions, and breaking stuff, something they just cannot shake off from their WWE days but surprisingly, Cena has managed to do the exact opposite or the impossible by delivering a performance that is not only believable but also relatable and lovable. After the Gunn’s Suicide Squad and the announcement of a TV show of his own for Peacemaker both the expectations and stakes were high and there were doubts whether Cena will be able to create the same movie magic for TV. Long story short, Cena did exactly that and arguably, this has to be Cena’s best acting performance.
It is not just Cena’s acting that makes Peacemaker one of the best TV shows of the year. The chemistry Cena has with other similar characters is also amazing and well-portrayed. All the good and bad characters in the show are flawed just like Cena’s Peacemaker and this imperfection works perfectly well for the TV show. In terms of the plot, the storyline is not something that is filled with plot twists, intricate details, twists, turns or a bunch of science stuff that we don’t really get; it is rather a simple plot but with a skilful storytelling which goes to show that the success of any movie or a TV show depends heavily on the way the story was told rather than the story itself.
Just like Gunn’s portrayal of the Starlord in The Guardians of the Galaxy the character Peacemaker has a lot of dialogues which is delivered quickly and skilfully by Cena that at times, it was really hard to keep track with the speed and I found myself pausing and/or rewinding a bit to properly grasp the whole dialogue again. Missing out on a bit of Cena’s or any other character’s rants is not much of a miss in terms of understanding the grand plot or following the story but Gunn’s script is filled with jokes, anecdotes, and interesting titbits that you find it rather impossible to not follow every dialogue.
In a nutshell, Peacemaker is a funny, absurd, juvenile, profane, raunchy, obnoxious, sociopathic, and ludicrous attempt at creating something marginally superhero-ish but for some reason – most probably being the brilliance of the director – all the quirks of the TV show works well to create something so engaging and lovable. I loved every minute of Peacemaker and it is a show that you are sure to binge once you start it. It picks up right from where things were left at the end of Suicide Squad but having watched the movie is not necessarily a requirement to enjoy the show. The story of Peacemaker is independent from the plot of Suicide Squad despite the close proximity of the two timelines.
A special mention should be made about the music of the show which heightens the overall experience. The absurd dance routine with all the characters involved sums up the whole show and what you can expect from it. It is so preposterous and unbelievable but at the same time entertaining and hard to look away. I found myself watching this intro in all eight episodes without skipping it.
There is no greater moral to the whole story; it is just pure entertainment which is silly, goofy, gory, and funny with quite a lot of swearing. The simplicity in the execution makes Peacemaker thoroughly enjoyable and I for one cannot wait until the second season.
By Sanuj Hathurusinghe