HBO Max’s Peacemaker Explained: John Cena’s Character Wasn’t Always DC

HBO Max's Peacemaker Explained: John Cena's Character Wasn't Always DC thumbnail

The Suicide Squad introduced moviegoers to some of the weirdest and most obscure DC villains this side of Condiment King. And none are more bizarre than Peacemaker, the vigilante so devoted to peace that he’ll kill literally anyone to preserve it. Now John Cena’s Peacemaker is branching out in his own spinoff series on HBO Max.

Are you still not familiar with Peacemaker? The Suicide Squad writer-director James Gunn describes him as a superhero, supervillain, and the world’s biggest douchebag.

“He’s like a douchey Captain America,” agreed Cena when his take on the character was first revealed during DC FanDome.

“[Peacemaker is] a guy who believes in peace at any cost, no matter how many people he needs to kill along the way,” Gunn added.

But just who is this violent vigilante? Let’s meet Christopher Smith, a.k.a. DC Comics’ Peacemaker who originated in Charlton Comics in 1966. In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Before DC Comics
  • Peacemaker’s Origin
  • Peacemaker’s Powers and Abilities
  • John Cena in The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker

Who Is DC’s Peacemaker? John Cena’s The Suicide Squad Character Explained

Before DC Comics

Have you watched Peacemaker?

Christopher Smith was a pacifist when he made his first appearance in Charlton Comics’ The Fightin’ 5 #40. A member of a paramilitary force dedicated to keeping the world safe, only non-lethal weapons were kept in his arsenal. That would change when the character was revamped in an explosive four-issue miniseries in 1988 that DC published after Charlton went out of business. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which he made his DC Comics debut, this new version of Christopher Smith still wanted to keep the peace… so much, in fact, that the haunted crimefighter is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure it.

“I’m Peacemaker,” the unstable anti-hero yells, “and I’ll kill to keep the peace!”

‘[He’s] a guy who believes in peace at any cost, no matter how many people he needs to kill along the way,’ says James Gunn.

Peacemaker’s Origin

Born Christopher Schmidt, Peacemaker was the only child of a wealthy couple. Smith’s father, a former Nazi concentration camp commandant, valued strength and power above all. He died by suicide when Smith was just five years old. Smith saw it happen. The troubled young boy would go on to the military after completing high school, where he came face to face with the horrific realities of war.

Accused of massacring innocent people, Smith was arrested and tried for war crimes. While serving his sentence, he agreed to join a secret Pentagon anti-terrorism program called Project: Peacemaker. The agents in the program trained on a high-tech military base but were never deployed, and Smith was eventually freed on his promised parole. The idea later inspired Smith to become a costumed crimefighter as a form of penance for the terrible crimes both he and his father committed.

As he unleashed his form of justice, Smith often heard the voice of his father in his head. It continued to plague him well into his raging crusade for peace. The vigilante suffered from delusions that not only was the spirit of his father haunting him, but also that the voices of those he had slain were trapped inside his unusual helmet.

Peacemaker operated under the Agency, a secret government organization that sent the well-armed warrior on anti-terrorism missions around the world. His fragile state of mind made him an unpredictable asset, and the Agency attempted to keep him as stable as possible through therapy and highly trained agents working with him.

He was said to have been killed at the hands of Eclipso on a mission for Checkmate (a division of Task Force X, the same super-secret government organization that spawned the Suicide Squad), but years later he returned to the hero business to help new Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes. Smith was also identified as a potential recruit of the fear-powered Sinestro Corps because of the terror he had inflicted as Peacemaker, but the yellow power ring ultimately rejected him. He served as a partner and mentor to Jaime for a short time.

Peacemaker was last seen joining the fight against Doctor Manhattan in 2019’s Doomsday Clock #13. This is strangely fitting as the story that became Watchmen was originally pitched as “Who Killed the Peacemaker?” As with many of Watchmen’s characters who were based on Charlton Comics players, Peacemaker was the inspiration behind the Comedian.

Peacemaker’s Powers and Abilities

The anti-hero is a master of weapons. He wields deadly, technologically advanced weaponry and wears bulletproof body armor as he dispenses justice. The strange-looking silver helmet on Peacemaker’s head is capable of emitting ultrasonic frequencies to overwhelm the senses of anyone in range, as well as scramble electronic signals. The helmet also contains long-range sensors for detecting any hostile forces in the area.

Peacemaker has other high-tech gadgetry at his disposal, including a decked-out jet plane and a jetpack that grants him the ability to fly.

John Cena in The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker

John Cena officially made his DCEU debut in 2021’s The Suicide Squad. Peacemaker is among a number of new Task Force X recruits charged with infiltrating war-torn Corto Maltese and destroying a secret laboratory containing the enormous starfish kaiju known as Starro. Ultimately, Peacemaker proves loyal to the US government rather than his teammates, and he loses a duel to the (apparent) death with Idris Elba’s Bloodsport.

Even before The Suicide Squad debuted, HBO Max announced a Peacemaker spinoff series executive produced by James Gunn. At the time the series was billed as an origin story for the character, which seemed to suggest it would be a prequel to The Suicide Squad. However, one of the post-credits scenes in The Suicide Squad sets up the new series, which indeed takes place after the movie despite shedding light on the character’s past.

Cena will again star as the title character, as Peacemaker grapples with a new mission and a new partner. The cast also includes The Suicide Squad veterans Steve Agee as John Economos and Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt, as well as newcomers Danielle Brooks as Leota Adebayo, Robert Patrick as Auggie Smith, Chris Conrad as the DC Comics character Vigilante/Adrian Chase and Nhut Le as Judomaster.

The eight-episode HBO Max series debuts on HBO Max in January 2022, with the first three episodes arriving on January 13. You can check out IGN’s spoiler-free review of the Peacemaker series premiere.

For more on The Suicide Squad, check out our movie review, find out who won our Face-Off of the best DC Comics villain of all time, or dig in on the backstories of the Suicide Squad characters Bloodsport and TDK.

Jan 11, 2022: This story has been updated with the latest information about the Peacemaker series.

Kelly Knox is a freelance entertainment writer who also contributes to StarWars.com, DCComics.com, Nerdist, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, and comics.

Read More

[an error occurred while processing the directive]