James Gunn reveals why he chose ‘Peacemaker’ for his first ‘Suicide Squad’ spinoff

peacemaker james gunn
Image via Binge/HBO

James Gunn took hold of Task Force X with last summer’s The Suicide Squad, but it was only John Cena’s Peacemaker that got the spin-off. Now, Gunn himself has explained that decision.

The ensemble cast of The Suicide Squad was full of D-list anti-heroes from the comics that the movie turned into fan-favorites, like Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, David Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man, and Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher II.

So what led Gunn to choose Christopher Smith, out of all The Suicide Squad‘s characters, to build a whole series around? Speaking to GQ, Gunn revealed that a lot of it had to do with the friendship he developed with Cena during production as well as the other sides of Peacemaker’s personality he realized the former WWE star could bring to the table.

“I think the first and most real answer is just, I love John Cena. I just really love the guy. I love working with people who are incredibly talented, and I saw something in John while we were working on The Suicide Squad that I thought I could help bring out of him, which was this more vulnerable side of his personality and his performance.

“I was able to craft the show around that, his sense of humor, and the way he talks. I also found the character of Peacemaker really interesting and relevant to our times, more so, in many ways, than the other characters in The Suicide Squad. And I love finding the humanity in kind of shitty characters.”

Peacemaker has well and truly wormed its way into people’s hearts, becoming both a critical hit and the hottest series on streaming right now with audiences. Like Gunn says, Cena’s much more textured and nuanced performance as the title character has also seen people reappraise him as an actor.

And, for those who do want to see more of the rest of Task Force X, Gunn is working alongside Warner Bros. to develop more Suicide Squad spinoffs for HBO Max, with one other show currently being cooked up. We don’t know anything about which players from the film might feature in that one just yet, but Gunn has teased that it won’t be as much of a comedy as Peacemaker.

The complete first season of Peacemaker is streaming on HBO Max now, and a second season is on its way.