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Peacemaker

Peacemaker - Season 1

James Gunn is really shaping up to be the saviour of the DC Extended Universe.

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For the most part, the DC Extended Universe has been a forgettable mess. There have been a few highlights, including Man of Steel and Shazam, but generally, the connected universe of media has been far from comparable to what Marvel has achieved with the MCU. We've received truly awful films, such as Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman, and even various other productions, which while not terrible, have generally failed to see the universe of movies head in any meaningful direction, Birds of Prey is a prime example of this. Again though, this is all compared to what Marvel has done with The Infinity Saga.

But, there is hope despite this, hope that comes in the form of an MCU veteran, the famed director James Gunn. Last year, he delivered one of, perhaps even the best DC movie of all-time, The Suicide Squad, and now Gunn is back on the scene with a spinoff TV series focussing on one of the characters he introduced in that very movie: the deadly and hilarious Peacemaker. The show is directly named after that titular individual and once again sees John Cena wearing the chromed helmet and fighting for peace no matter the cost, and even though you might not know much about this unusual character, there's no doubting that this is one of the very best DCEU projects out there to date.

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The series picks up after the events of The Suicide Squad, which (spoiler alert!) concluded with a building being dropped on Peacemaker, after he tussled with Rick Flag. Needless to say, the opening sections of the show sees Peacemaker healing in hospital and then soon after adjusting back into regular life, a rather large feat considering his tenure in the Belle Reve prison. For a while Peacemaker looks to reconnect with people in his life, be it his father, his sidekick Vigilante, or his best friend Eagly (a literal bald eagle). But, as you would expect, Amanda Waller's people come knocking, and Peacemaker discovers that his freedom comes at the cost of doing dirty work in a similar vein to what Task Force X was asked to do.

The general mission is to deal with Project Butterfly, a parasitic alien invasion that threatens all of humanity. It's about as strange as you would think, and sees Peacemaker and this new surrounding crew of individuals getting up to all manners of hijinks as they discover the extent of the invasion and also how to stop/overcome it. But, to add to the challenge of this, Peacemaker has to navigate a world of threats, one where his abusive and truly awful father, the bigoted and white supremacist vigilante White Dragon, and various investigating police all intend on either putting Peacemaker in an early grave or behind bars once again - and this is all without thinking about Waller's presence, which is always felt.

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You might think that with all of these truly heavy notes that Peacemaker would be a serious series, and while it does have some heavy areas, Gunn's humour - that shines brightest in The Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy - is once again a massive driving force. This show will have you rolling with laughter as the charisma and ridiculous nature of Peacemaker (who is brilliantly brought to life by Cena, who might be playing the best role of his entire acting career here) takes centre stage. Between the crude language, daft scenarios, excellently delivered lines, this is a show that is vastly more hilarious than any DC project beforehand.

Add to this some great action sequences, top notch set and costume design, a plot that is the perfect length (it feels neither lacking or too long), and a supporting team of stars that allow Peacemaker to shine but then also excel themselves - with Freddie Stroma's Vigilante being a breakout character that we definitely need more of - and you get a package that makes you excited to see what's next for the DCEU, especially where Gunn is involved.

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I will say that despite my high praise of this series, deserved high praise for that matter, it feels like at times certain areas were forced into the plot. Take the surprise (and again, spoiler alert!) Justice League appearance towards the end of the series, which just feels unnecessary and only there to go full circle on one of the daft jokes that comes out of Peacemaker's mouth on a whim. I won't delve into why exactly the Justice League was needed, but let's just say that it was a global-threat level event that the Justice League couldn't get to in time. Yep, the Justice League was too slow. The same crew of heroes that consists of Superman and Flash, two absurdly quick individuals. But that's just me being pedantic and enjoying how far Peacemaker had distanced itself from the chaos that was the DCEU up until that point.

With the show being HBO Max's most successful series ever, it's not hugely surprising that a second season has already been greenlit, with Gunn and Cena back at the helm as the creator/lead star combo. Considering how genuinely fantastic this series has been for the most, the second season has mighty big shoes to fill, but if its even marginally as good as this season was, we'll be in store for another hit.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
overall score
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Peacemaker - Season 1

Peacemaker - Season 1

SERIES. Written by Ben Lyons

James Gunn is really shaping up to be the saviour of the DC Extended Universe.



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