Peacemaker S1E1 TV REVIEW: A fun, absolute wild ride of a premiere

Peacemaker is an all-new and epically awesome series premiering on HBO Max, written and directed by James Gunn. Known largely for the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Gunn continues the Peacemaker storyline from a post-credit scene in his recent film The Suicide Squad (2021). Christopher Smith, aka Peacemaker, is given a chance to forgo the remainder of his 30 year prison term if he aids Amanda Waller’s team in “Project Butterfly.” Though the details of this mission remain intentionally concealed from him, Chris reluctantly accepts the assignment, but he knows he doesn’t really have a choice.

We really learned nothing about Peacemaker’s personal life in the film, not in the way we learn about the other characters. Gunn took this as an opportunity to create a spin-off series for the character while in the midst of completing The Suicide Squad. Episode 1, “A Whole New Whirled,” dives into Chris’s life after being in prison for 4 years: returning to a wrecked home, a sullen father, and excited pet, Eagly. We learned in The Suicide Squad that his father, Auggie Smith, was a soldier who trained his son how to kill from the moment he was born. Chris isn’t a superhero or super-villain with any special abilities, but he’s freakishly strong and can withstand a significant amount of damage and pain. Even in the movie, he was shot by Bloodsport before a building fell on him, only to walk away with nothing more than a broken clavicle.

In S1E1, we come to learn about the state of Chris’s financial affairs, personal relationships, as well as what he likes to do for fun. There’s tons of dancing to '80s hair metal from the very beginning, and honestly it’s great. I love the seriousness of everyone’s expressions during the choreographed intro credits. John Cena appears to relish in the role of Chris/Peacemaker: a no holds barred bad guy who’s stuck in the past with a love of '80s Americana. For years, I have watched Cena not only in the WWE, but in the Total Divas and Total BELLAS reality shows, to the point where it feels like I’ve gotten to know who he is as a person. Not only does Cena take every project he works on very seriously (no matter how small), and makes a conscious effort to be his best self in every way, but he also enjoys crude humor and being a goofball. When Cena is Peacemaker, it feels like he’s simply being his real, fun self which makes it difficult to see Peacemaker the character rather than Cena acting as Peacemaker. The only way I can explain this better is to think about Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump versus Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips.

There really is no comparison to the comics that I can make at this time. I will discuss that more in the next episode’s review. Just sit back and enjoy the wild ride that is this premiere episode. So much happens that drives the story forward. Peacemaker definitely has a strong budget and some of the FX are from Weta. The end of “A Whole New Whirled” is nothing short of WILD! I just had to continue on to episode 2 and then jumped right in to episode 3. The fourth episode can’t drop soon enough. It’s great that Cena is willing to go “there” for the story. He’s definitely doing the most in a good way. Still, it’d be great to see him get comfortable in the role of Peacemaker so we can see the character development.

Peacemaker episodes 1-3 are available to watch now on HBO Max with a new episode premiering every Thursday.


Ruth Kotsalos spent her Saturday mornings as a kid fully invested in Batman: The Animated Series. Since then, she has been a fan of all DC animated cartoons and movies. Ruth currently works in the nonprofit sector, has a masters degree from The New School, and lives in New Jersey with her husband John, and their German Shepherd puppy, Athena.

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