In his first outing in the DCEU, John Cena’s Peacemaker — the world’s most violent pacifist — came up against a kaiju-sized alien starfish. For his first solo vehicle, however, Christopher Smith is facing a threat that’s much more grounded and commonplace in its evil. As revealed over the episodes released so far, Smith’s father Auggie (played by Terminator 2 star Robert Patrick) is really the former white supremacist supervillain, White Dragon.
This stark departure from the normal types of antagonists who feature in superhero content caused a bit of a challenge for writer/director James Gunn as he had to balance the tonal demands of the genre with the seriousness that depicting a real-world evil like Auggie’s requires. In conversation with Syfy, Gunn outlined the “delicate” balance he had to achieve with Auggie’s character and his arc across the series.
“And it was very hard to write Auggie, because Auggie is such a piece of s–t racist,” Gunn said. “I didn’t want to pull back on who he was as a racist and to make him this McDonald’s-lite version of what a racist is, which is what you would normally see in television shows. But I didn’t want to serve his bulls–t, either. That to me was the most delicate stuff in the show that I really was careful about and tried to do the best that I could to be sensitive and also be authentic at the same time.”
Patrick is no stranger to playing villains, like the merciless T-1000 in the aforementioned classic action movie, but Auggie has to be his most hateable role to date due to the character’s vicious racism. Ironically, though, while Gunn found him challenging to write, Patrick told Syfy that he found Auggie very “easy” to portray due to his totally unrepentant nature and lack of inner conflict. “He’s a horrible guy, which is really easy to play… which is odd,” Patrick admitted.
While Auggie is an original character for the screen, he’s inspired by the two different versions of White Dragon from the comics who were also neo-Nazi vigilantes — namely, William Heller and David Ducannon. Last week’s episode four revealed our first look at White Dragon’s pretty comics-accurate (and also very Power Rangers-y) costume. But will Auggie actually don the suit again himself and force his son to battle him?
Chris Smith’s fight against his evil father continues as Peacemaker premieres new episodes Thursdays on HBO Max.