Dave Bautista may have been half-joking when he said his Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was a control freak, but it sounds as though the filmmaker was very hands-on when it came to crafting the character he was supposed to play in The Suicide Squad. After Bautista declined the opportunity in favor of Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, John Cena was drafted in for the part.
It’s worked out pretty well for the WWE star, leading to some cross-promotion with his other gig as the host of Wipeout, while he’s also getting an HBO Max spinoff out of the deal. However, in a new interview Cena revealed that as soon as he showed up to the set of the DCEU blockbuster in full Peacemaker regalia, Gunn instantly wanted to make some drastic changes to the anithero’s personality.
“This one, I actually had different intentions of what I wanted to do with this. And then James was like, ‘No, I kind of want him more douchey’. And I was like, ‘You hired the right guy. I trust you man, I get what you’re going for and I think I have a perception of what I’d like the character to be, please tell me if I’m wrong’. And day one, he was like, ‘You’re doing that wrong.’. ‘Okay, what would you like?’. ‘I would like this’. ‘Okay, great’.
And I absolutely did exactly what I wanted to. It had nothing to do with what was on the page, it had nothing to do with continuing the narrative. He gave me the choice to do what I want and I was like, ‘Well, f*ck it. I’m going to write my own story right now’. So it’s cool because I think he’s okay with that and he’ll grab bits and pieces of, even if I’m really just wasting tape. He’d be like, ‘That thing you just did, like the f*cked up thing with your face, do that, but say this. Oh. Oh, sh*t. Okay, great’. So I think he’s tolerant and patient enough to know like, when he says do what you want, he’s going to get me. And that he tries to steal little bits of me and put it behind that gorgeous chrome helmet, that I’m not supposed to talk about.”
Peacemaker promises to be one of the more interesting aspects of The Suicide Squad, which is no small feat when the entire ensemble is packed with idiosyncratic and eccentric comic book figures. Cena’s square jaw and bulging biceps mean he’s already got the look down pat, but it’ll be fun to see how he explores someone that’s so desperate to achieve peace that they’ll happily and very paradoxically use violence to make it happen.
Cena already described him as “f*cked up”, as well as saying The Suicide Squad as a whole will make you sh*t your pants, so perhaps the changes made to Peacemaker on day one were the right ones. The 44 year-old is an underrated comic talent, but it sounds as though we’ll be seeing him in an entirely new light when Gunn’s irreverent and very R-rated effort hits theaters and HBO Max next month.