Peacemaker by James Gunn is kind of a letdown
Peacemaker is the brand new tv-series on HBO Max, written and directed by James Gunn. One of the renewed products of the DC universe, which is trying to lift itself from the fall of several failed blockbusters.
To accomplish their mission, during the past few years, they gave directors with different backgrounds the opportunity to direct their movies, bringing a breath of fresh air to the studio. For example, they hired David Sandberg and James Wan, both coming from the horror genre, to direct respectively Shazam! and Aquaman. These movies were finally above average superhero films and allow Warner Bros to see the light at the end of the bad-reviews tunnel.
So when the Suicide Squad project was handed over to James Gunn, fans were blessed. Gunn was famous for directing quality fantasy movies and his version of the Suicide Squad leave an impression on the viewer thanks to a spectacular cast and an exciting supervillain. Not only do the fans love the movie, but also the executives at Warner Bros did. So much so that they gave Gunn a spin-off series: Peacemaker.
The result unfortunately is not as good as everyone expected.
Peacemaker, played by John Cena, is a killer obsessed with peace and freedom. He’s a symbolic far-right American and the show doesn’t hide it. He treats women like objects, he’s racist and his father is a white supremacist. The show is a typical post-Trump representation of the United States and it is worth knowleding his courage for showing the US through the lens of the comics book world. A world that, during the past years, seemed myope towards the real treats humanity was facing. The story is pretty simple, Peacemaker has to stop an alien invasion with the help of a newly formed task force.
The show is a mix of action and comedy, each episode lasts 40 minutes and it is, without a doubt, a big letdown.
It’s an enjoyable show, an entertaining one, but it’s seemed like a waste of potential. Peacemaker comes out as flat and lazy, which sounds impossible knowing that John Cena’s playing a superhero whose best friend is an eagle.
You can tell by the first episode, that Gunn thought of developing a casual narrative without deep storytelling. However the audience doesn’t need a new casual superhero show, there are plenty. Especially from the DC comics. The truth is public’s expectations are much higher nowadays, Marvel’s Daredevil was a masterpiece that explored philosophy and ethics. It set the bar high but also showed the audience what they could get from superhero shows.
There’s so much potential behind a comic book character, showrunners just need to use it. Therefore when Peacemaker’s trailer was released, it was legit thinking that the show would dwell on the superhero’s ideology and morality. Because, just like the US, Peacemaker thinks he’s a good guy when he’s just a killer.
It was a big opportunity to have a show focused on the Dunny-Krugger path the USA is following, but Peacemaker took a different direction. Creating a grotesque narrative filled with picaresques characters that alienate the viewer.
For example, a character gets killed in a cold-blooded manner by one of the protagonists. He died horribly, begging for his life. The characters treat his death as a minor inconvenience, he should have died sooner without the begging-part states of the protagonists. The show doesn’t take the time to show us how truly insane this speech is, so everything feels strange and out of place.
James Gunn showed in the past his ability to give superheroes moral conflicts and values, Guardians of the Galaxy is a perfect example. Nonetheless, it seems that he prefers delving into pure violence and brutality for the sake of it rather than creating intriguing stories. The Suicide Squad had the same problem, it was edgy just because the author thought it was cool to go in that direction. What happens is that the movie, like the show, seems like a product Gunn created for himself. It can be cool and a bit intimidating at first, but as you move on with the narrative everything is just flat and uneasy to watch. Thus Gunn’s fans loved it, whereas new viewers are debating whether or not it’s worth watching the show.
We are just at the beginning of the series, let’s just hope that James Gunn still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Until then
Thank you for your time,