John Cena is explaining why he didn’t bother picking up the classic comic book issues of his Peacemaker character ahead of — or during — the production of the titular show he stars in, and he’s got a point.
Though the HBO Max original series Peacemaker, by showrunner James Gunn, is a spinoff of the filmmaker’s 2021 DC film The Suicide Squad, the chrome-helmeted hero actually hails from the Silver Age of comics in the 1960s.
When asked by Ify Nwadiwe in the show’s companion podcast, Podly, if the actor read any of the comics ahead of time to research his role, Cena said, “[N]o, I did not read any comics before or during production…I’ll allow you to emote.”
Cena said the very first thing he did after receiving the role and shaking Gunn’s hand was to ask the director if he wanted him “to get every comic or periodical or anything about Peacemaker and study up?” to which Gunn told him no.
“The reason I’ve chosen Peacemaker is because many different artists have given different interpretations of Peacemaker,” Gunn told the actor, according to Cena’s account of the conversation.
“This is a great character because it’s up to us to craft it.”
Cena went on to explain that Gunn did a great job of striking a balance between staying true to the original source material — such as having the character sport a “crazy silver toilet bowl” helmet and wield an absurdly huge Desert Eagle — while also adding his own spin on the character.
With Gunn’s version of the character, Peacemaker is reimagined as a sort of “douchey” Captain America, Cena said, something he believes he never would’ve gotten from the comics.
“I think he didn’t want me to read those comics because he didn’t want me to develop biases,” the actor said.
Watch the penultimate episode of Peacemaker on HBO Max now with the season finale coming to the streaming platform next week.