REVIEW: Peacemaker – Season One (2022)

Jennifer Holland (Left) and John Cena (right) in James Gunn’s PEACEMAKER — Photo: Warner Bros. / HBO Max.

All Episodes of the First Season of James Gunn’s PEACEMAKER Are Available on HBO Max Now.

I know. This show did, indeed, come out several months ago. Back then, I had been preparing to write a longer article about this show, but, then life got in the way, and now we’re in June. Sorry about that. Still, I am happy to be able to report that I think this show is absolutely terrific and I also think it’s the best DC Comics season of television I’ve ever seen. That statement is coming from someone who was obsessed with Smallville once, who loved the first season of CW’s The Flash, and who did follow the Arrowverse for quite some time. With respect to those shows, James Gunn’s Peacemaker is just head-and-shoulders above those other series in large part because it feels so director-driven. It has a distinctive style and voice that is just so right for this show.

A spin-off of James Gunn’s excellent The Suicide Squad film, Peacemaker picks up right where the film left off in its post-credits scene by following the titular character, a jingoistic anti-hero and former member of Task Force X, played by John Cena as he tries to balance returning to society and working as a part of a team, all the while suffering from PTSD in part due to what happened in the film.

John Cena, the wrestler who recently starred in Fast 9, has previously shown himself to be a really good comedic talent in both The Suicide Squad and comedies like Blockers and Vacation Friends, and he is really funny here. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that one of my childhood wrestling heroes could handle some of the more emotional beats in the show thus showcasing the kind of talent that can carry the show as its lead actor. I think it might be career-best working from Cena. It should also be said that he is surrounded by a solid cast most of which give memorable performances with actors like Danielle Brooks and Freddie Stroma standing out.

The show has the same kind of undeniably funny but also endearing dialogue that James Gunn has been known for over the years, except HBO Max has allowed him to write some very immature lines of dialogue that sound just right coming out of John Cena’s mouth and that Disney would not be pleased seeing in a Guardians of the Galaxy film. James Gunn’s brand of humor is so perfect for this show, though, which made me laugh out loud several times each episode due to its inventive and sometimes quite reference-heavy jokes (as well as its title sequence which is one of the best and most infectious title sequences I’ve seen in years).

But in spite of the immature jokes that I guess might rub some people the wrong way, Gunn’s series never loses sight of the heart at the center of the show. Gunn knows how to build a team of lovable goofballs or jerks and this is yet another home run. It’s the kind of success story that makes you think the smartest thing DC Comics and Warner Bros. could do right now would be to hand the keys to their superhero cinematic universe over to Gunn.

A-

– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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