Thursday, May 19, 2022

‘Peacemaker’: You can't take your eyes off John Cena in new series

January 20, 2022
Photo by Maddie Monroe | The State News

Editor's note: This column contains spoilers for the first three episodes of HBO Max’s “Peacemaker” series. Reader discretion is advised.

Ahhh... my long-awaited (ha ha ha...) “Peacemaker” review, on the first three episodes.

HBO Max has been killing it. And by killing “it,” I'm referring to Netflix. Netflix is killing its viewership with the mediocrity its platform has been leaning into (of course, there are exceptions... I love “The Witcher”).

Back to John Cena.

I love the show. The humor is odd. But mostly tasteful. That's James Gunn. It helps to watch “Peacemaker” as a satire of the heroic ideal, and how it looks — particularly in the United States.

Come on... “I cherish peace with all my heart, I don't care how many men, women and children I need to kill to get it.”

Sound familiar?

I laughed out loud a lot. And I think John Cena found his footing with this role. He is phenomenal, but the show would be 10x better if I could actually see him (please laugh).

Besides Cena’s “Peacemaker,” Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), Economos (Steve Agee) and “Eagly” are stand-outs. Song (Annie Chang) and Fitzgibbon (Lochlyn Munro) are also great.

Superhero shows (*cough cough* “The Flash”) flop at balancing a protagonist-driven story with supporting characters or a team dynamic. “Peacemaker” excels at this, and the supporting characters aren't sacrificed to further Cena's character.

Notably, “Peacemaker” doesn't have the “comedic-relief character.” Every character on the team is comedic relief. I appreciated that.

I didn't forget about Vigilante (Freddie Stroma). I love Vigilante (I'm using the word “love” loosely here). He's deranged. But awfully fun? And... dare I say... fresh??

I've seen comparisons to Deadpool. Sorry... no? Maybe? Vigilante came first, and Deadpool is a satire of Deathstroke. Let's just say, there are Vigilante fancams. They have come. And yes, I watch them.

My favorite character is Adebayo, Amanda Waller's daughter. She's badass. She's also a foil to Cena and the whole team. She is the heart of the show, and for someone not in the successor, “The Suicide Squad,” she stole the show. I love her (not using it loosely here).

I hate Peacemaker's dad, White Dragon, for obvious reasons.

Peacemaker, his dad and Eagly eating dinner is a testament to Peacemaker's yearn for some sort of connection to his horrific father, but the viewer still sees both as deranged.

I will, now, talk about my favorite moments of the show.

The opening theme.

One word: yes. Unskippable. This show is creative. Hell, beyond creative. It's risky. The opening theme sets up “Peacemaker’s” tone. It's better because of it.

Episode One, Opening Scene: Conversation with the Janitor

This was, obviously, very funny. I enjoyed Peacemaker being confronted with his racism. He is racist. And him saying, “Yeah, I should work on that,” is an interesting choice.

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Two minutes into “Peacemaker,” we have character depth — written in a hilarious way, and the visual contrast makes this vulnerability much funnier. Viewers upset with Peacemaker for killing Rick Flag would do well to see it.

Peacemaker and the butterfly

The fight scene was incredible. But, also, Peacemaker sucks at jumping balconies. He is incompetent and stupid, considering he left a classified file for his hook-up to see. No wonder the team won't tell him what a butterfly is.

A situation of his own making. Very on-brand.

Peacemaker crying because he sucks

This is what I mean by depth. Peacemaker feels remorse. Everyone hates him for killing Flag. He's self-aware.

He wants people to like him. He wants his team to like him. He wants a family. But he doesn't know how. Instead, he pushes people away.

Cena definitely has the range.

Play-date: Peacemaker and Vigilante

Their dynamic is excellent. And it's obvious they are best friends (putting aside Eagly for a second).

Even with his bad excuse of “face-muscle exercises,” Vigilante knew his friend was crying.

So, in proper-psychopathic fashion, he cheered him up! Shooting things. Justifying killing bad people. In Vigilant's eyes, this includes graffiti artists (what a threat!).

“Peacemaker” does a great job of not portraying bad people as good. It's clear Peacemaker and Vigilante are unhinged.

Peacemaker's father is not an excuse, it's an explanation.

The end of episode two sets up the actual villain: the White Dragon. His dad.

Vigilante takes the shot

In episode three, we see Peacemaker struggle to kill the family of butterflies. Vigilante takes the shot instead. They end up captured in the basement anyways, but this was an important scene because we see Peacemaker struggle.

Maybe this foreshadows a conflict with Vigilante. A moral dilemma.

A similar dynamic is shown between Adebayo and Harcourt. The difference is Adebayo said she's never killed.

I don't doubt we'll see a fight amongst the team. In fact, it already happened with Harcourt accusing Adebayo of being a butterfly in episode two.

Now... onto my conclusion

This show is one of DC's best. It is chaotic. And it doesn't take itself too seriously — while still taking itself seriously.

I'm excited to see the rest. In fact, this show makes me hopeful for the future of the DC Extended Universe.

Thank you, John Cena.

Black Adam x Peacemaker Collab?

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