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‘Peacemaker’: James Gunn ‘Excited’ to Tackle Soundtrack and Already Sees More Seasons Ahead

"Peacemaker is almost every guy I grew up with in Missouri," Gunn said during the TCA panel for HBO Max's upcoming series.

Suicide Squad (2021).JOHN CENA as Peacemaker and KING SHARK .Credit: Warner Bros.

“The Suicide Squad”

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Peacemaker (John Cena) is a hero so virtuous he was imprisoned for integrity — or at least that’s what he’s claiming in the trailer for the upcoming action series, directed by “The Suicide Squad’s” James Gunn and coming to HBO Max in 2022. While the trailer was only screened for TCA members, Gunn did speak on the record about “Peacemaker,” its soundtrack, and plans for the future.

“[Peacemaker] was always on the periphery of characters I thought were really strange,” said James Gunn, during Wednesday morning’s TCA panel for the series. When he began work on “The Suicide Squad,” Gunn wasn’t planning to expand Cena’s character beyond the preexisting franchise. It wasn’t until DC approached him with the option that the opportunity for further strangeness clicked. “I found something interesting with Peacemaker because I loved John Cena,” said Gunn. He enjoyed the character’s “backward way” of looking at things and also didn’t think Cena got a chance to show off all his comedy in the feature.

From the trailer itself, it’s obvious this is a hard-R series (or TV-MA, if you will) that revels in all the bad things one can get away with on a streaming service and, according to executive producer Peter Safran, it’s hard to find a line Gunn won’t cross. Still, the director’s ambitions aren’t solely to illustrate what a big jerk Peacemaker can be.

“Peacemaker is almost every guy I grew up with in Missouri,” said Gunn. “Peacemaker has a lot of issues.” He didn’t set out to make the character likable, but wants to emphasize he has a lot to learn. Gunn’s characters typically develop into a better version of who they were at the beginning, and this series is no different. “It wouldn’t take just one season of TV for him to learn that,” he said. “It’s that ability to learn […] that makes him a little bit more likable.”

Gunn said there’s a “deep well” of material that he could build out in future seasons, though it’s unclear if that is happening anytime soon. One thing he promised audiences about this season was a rollicking soundtrack comprised of a lot of different influences. “This is a soundtrack I was most excited to create since the [first] ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ soundtrack,” Gunn said, in which he borrowed not just hair metal but a lot of grunge-inspired tracks from Europe.

“Peacemaker” is expected to premiere in January 2022 on HBO Max.

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