John Cena has done pretty well for himself out of The Suicide Squad, especially when you consider he wasn’t even the first choice to play Peacemaker. James Gunn wrote the part specifically for his Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista, who ultimately turned it down in favor of Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, allowing another wrestler-turned-actor to step in.
Not only did Cena earn rave reviews for his wonderfully deadpan turn as a man who’d happily kill as many men, women and children as necessary in the name of liberty, but he’s also headlining the DCEU’s first canonical HBO Max exclusive, with Peacemaker premiering in January of next year.
During a panel at the Television Critics Association press tour via The Hollywood Reporter, Gunn explained why Christopher Smith deserved his own solo project ahead of other characters, namely Idris Elba’s Bloodsport.
“At the end of The 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. It’s that ability to learn that for me makes him a little bit more likable. His blindspots in some places are pretty terrible, and in some places are him being ignorant. I think that’s an important distinction to make as well. He is open at the same time, sometimes.”
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Gunn came up with the idea for the show and penned the entire first season in a bout of feverish creativity during the first COVID lockdown, and he’s directing several of the episodes himself. Looking at how Cena spent almost the entirety of The Suicide Squad press circuit in costume, the leading man is clearly hugely invested in Peacemaker as both a project and character, and that enthusiasm from the cast and crew should yield a worthy first foray into episodic storytelling from the superhero franchise.