How James Gunn, John Cena Won Over Audiences

[This story contains spoilers for the Peacemaker finale.]

No one cares about Peacemaker. That may seem harsh, but it was true of Christopher Smith in the story of the HBO Max series, People of Peace, which is also true of his comic counterpart. It’s not that people don’t like the character, rather he’s never used often enough for anyone to give him a lot of thought beyond his goofy helmet.

Peacemaker didn’t even become a DC character until 1985 Crisis on Endless Earth, merged the Charlton Comics characters Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and The Question, among others, into the DC Universe, and he was later relegated to D. No one cared about Peacemaker. That is, until James Gunn and John Cena.

In terms of the adorable losers emerging from James Gunn Suicide Squad (2021), Peacemaker seems the least overrated for a spin-off series, and the least likely to get our sympathy. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) best said, “Peacemaker… what a joke,” right before being brutally murdered by Smith. However, Gunn and Cena found their hearts beating in that joke, and many more new jokes.

People of Peace, which has been refreshed for season two, has a fun, do-it-yourself energy of friends making art and having fun together while they do so. But where such a project can feel light, Gunn deftly guides the emotional flow of the series in which every member of this newly formed Task Force X, including free government agents Reluctant and reluctant anti-heroes, Peacemaker, Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), John Economos (Steve Agee) and Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), are given at least an honest moment of hurt and heartbreak, often in its least expected form, that bridges immaturity and maturity, affirming the power of comic book characters over children and adults in a way that is rarely achieved with such confidence.

I never expected Cena playing Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” piano, Brooks’ Leota emerging as a Black hero we’ve never seen on screen before or Agee’s Economos tearfully revealing the reason why he dyed his beard to hit me with such emotional weight, but sincerity in the midst of irreverence worked because it felt so personal. There’s no doubt that Gunn could have written it, given his previous work and knack for creating characters that all feel like pieces of himself, but let all the This actor gets it too, give us a feeling like an acknowledgment of how often the world sees them, feels special, an invitation to test their preconceptions. about others and self-esteem. Gunn’s greatest tool has always been empathy.

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The bloodshed and dodgy jokes are hilarious, and the encyclopedic knowledge of the most obscure comic book characters is unmatched by fellow comic book filmmakers, but People of Peace thrives on Gunn’s ability to create human connections with characters that, at least on the surface, not only resist the connection but accept their anonymous position. Gunn excels at healing broken things without even knowing how broken they are.

When we rejoin Smith after his near-death experience in Suicide Squad, he had just spent months healing his wounds. While his body was healed, his mind was clearly not haunted by Flag’s death and began to question the creed that cherished peace with all his heart, no matter what. How many men, women and children do we have to kill to get it? Smith was released into an America as broken as he was, a country rife with intrigue, anti-science, and neo-fascism. Smith certainly played his part in it, and the references to “truths” he learned on social media about other superheroes and people in general, are amusing, but also an understatement. A chilling reminder of how easy it is for all of us to buy misinformation because the Internet tells us it’s true.

The series doesn’t let Smith get away with his actions, and he starts the series off as a swashbuckler who truly tests the boundaries of a lovable asshole. But as we learn over the course of the season’s eight episodes, he’s the product of his upbringing – his father Auggie Smith (Robert Patrick), a white nationalist who is considered the Dragon. white dressed as a Tony Stark trailer park, responsible for forging Peacemaker’s Helmet and his outdated views on masculinity. Cena plays Smith as a perpetual child, whose growth, emotional maturity, and sexual security are held back by her father’s fears. Thus, Peacemaker is a child’s idea of ​​a superhero, but instead of being born out of hope, tragedy, or truth like DC’s Trinity, he was born from the shame of our nation. ta.

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People of Peace comes a time when the idea of ​​a man raised in a nice and Klan-friendly environment seems like an unwanted addition to superhero storytelling. But because of the contemporary nature of the show People of Peace topical in a fresh, political way without following the tail end of the great Cold War superhero stories of Alan Moore and Frank Miller. The members of Task Force X are all products of a government that can be spent by its own citizens. Amanda Waller’s ARGUS (Viola Davis) not only puts her fortune against impossible odds on the battlefield, but also denies the team the resources, pay, therapy, and relationships that humans do. needed to survive. There is more than one path to suicide. Even so, these characters are still reluctant to find what they need in each other, with Brooks’ Leota at the center of that, an expression of Gunn’s own empathy (and love of animals), who seeing the best in these people, even as her own mother, Waller, seeks to destroy that quality, in the same way that Auggie tries with her own son.

Despite the abuses by the government and parents, those in this case may well represent the morally compromised US government founded on racism and irresponsibility, This character tries to come together, but only because they allow themselves to change the basic level. And change is hard and bloody. People of Peace depends on people’s ability to choose change for themselves, or force them to change, which is the goal of the alien Butterflies, who rob the human body in a plot to eliminate the will. their free will so that they can do what is necessary to survive. Earth is dying. Even this alien invasion is somewhat admirable and depicted in a sympathetic light, and as Goff/Detective Sophie Song (Annie Chang) brilliantly shows in the finale, Their mission is no different from what Smith has declared to be his own purpose as the Peacemaker. Smith’s decision to decline their offer to join them was not motivated by some sense of irony about American freedom, but, as he later said, because it would hurt other people. he cares. It’s so simple that a child can understand the reasoning, but it’s made even more complicated because so many people refuse to sacrifice the simplest things for the happiness of themselves and others, just like us. we see every day. Smith, being a perpetual child, understands this and grows, if only a little, but enough to come out of his cocoon as someone better than he started.

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Change is a process and taking responsibility for what you have done and said is not easy People of Peace shows how we need to give each other that opportunity. The results are not immediate, sacrifices will be made and wounds will remain, which is made clear by Smith’s repeated images of his father. But the road to peace is certainly easier when there are people who truly look down on you. It’s quite beautiful People of Peacewas born into such a rife environment, exists as a result of metamorphosis for all involved and perhaps holds the promise of a new way of understanding what comic book characters can be. offered when allowed for real change by artists looking for the same thing.

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