James Gunn Explains Why He Picked Peacemaker for His ‘Suicide Squad’ TV Spinoff

TCA 2021: “I thought he was just a really cool, interesting character that could be pertinent to today,” Gunn says about John Cena’s DC Comics character


James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” features an expansive cast that includes Idris Elba, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis, but it’s John Cena’s Peacemaker that will get his very own HBO Max spinoff TV series.

On Wednesday, Gunn explained why he was drawn to Cena’s douchey macho-man character.

“I was not planning to do it at all,” Gunn said Wednesday during the show’s panel at the Television Critics Association press tour. “It was Peter Safran who came to me and Walter Hamada from DC, and they were like, hey, if you could do a TV show on any one of the characters from the ‘Suicide Squad,’ who would you do? And I just found something really interesting about Peacemaker, both because I loved working with John Cena, and I thought that he had a lot of acting gifts and comedy gifts that we weren’t able to fully utilize in the movie. I thought he was just a really cool, interesting character that could be pertinent to today and today’s world, in terms of his sort of backwards way of looking at things and a lot of the show is about his friendship with these other characters, especially Danielle [Brook]’s character Leota, and their friendship that emerges out of all this, even though they very much represented very different parts of America today.”

“Peacemaker” will follow Cena’s Christopher Smith aka Peacemaker, who first appeared in August’s “The Suicide Squad.” The HBO Max series will explore Peacemaker’s origins and “extend the world that Gunn is creating.” It will pick up directly after the events of the movie, which saw Peacemaker laid up in a hospital bed after he apparently died from a gunshot wound.

Gunn cited another reason for Peacemaker getting his own series: In the movie, the other main characters like Elba’s Bloodsport “are much better than they were at the beginning,” whereas Peacemaker goes through no growth as a character.

“Peacemaker has a lot of issues,” Gunn says. “At the end of ‘Suicide Squad,’ Bloodsport learns a lot, he’s a better person than he was at the beginning. A lot of the characters are much better than they were at the beginning. And Peacemaker has a lot to learn. And it wouldn’t take just one season of TV for him to learn that.”

Along with Cena, Steve Agee and Jennifer Holland also return from “The Suicide Squad” as John Econmos and Emilia Harcourt. Danielle Brooks, Robert Patrick, Freddie Stroma and Chukwudi Iwuji round out the main cast. Stroma plays DC Comics character Adrian Chase aka Vigilante.

“Peacemaker” debuts in January.