‘Peacemaker’ seeks world harmony in his action-packed way

Back from 'The Suicide Squad,' John Cena reprises character on HBO Max

John Cena (left) and Freddie Stroma star in the HBO Max series “Peacemaker,” which starts streaming Thursday.

After being part of the Suicide Squad, Peacemaker is ready to go off on his own.

Following the 2021 movie about the team of convicts turned crime-fighters, John Cena works again with writer-director James Gunn by reprising the DC Comics character — who intends to instill peace, even if that takes committing mayhem — as the new series “Peacemaker” begins streaming Thursday, Jan. 13, on HBO Max. A black ops soldier, Christopher Smith (Cena) uses everything at his disposal to try to shape the world the way he’d like it, whatever price anyone else must pay in the process.

“I was not planning to do it at all,” maintains “Guardians of the Galaxy” filmmaker Gunn of revisiting “Peacemaker” in series form, but he thought differently after he was approached by DC executives. “They were like, ‘Hey, if you could do a TV show on any one of the characters from “The Suicide Squad,” who would you do?’

“I just found something really interesting about Peacemaker, because I loved working with John Cena and I thought that he had a lot of acting gifts and comedy gifts that we weren’t able to fully utilize in the movie. And also because I thought he was just a really cool, interesting character that could be pertinent to today’s world, in terms of his sort of backwards way of looking at things. A lot of the show is about his friendships with these other characters, even though they represent very different parts of America today.”

John Cena stars in the HBO Max series “Peacemaker,” which starts streaming Thursday.

Robert Patrick (“Scorpion”) is cast as Peacemaker/Christopher’s disapproving father Auggie, with the “Harry Potter” movies’ Freddie Stroma as Adrian Chase, a district attorney who moonlights as crime-battler Vigilante. Danielle Brooks (“Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia”), Steve Agee and Jennifer Holland also are series regulars.

The notably glib Cena built a successful acting career out of his fame as a WWE superstar, and while he deems “Peacemaker” a sensible career step, he also feels it fits his overall approach. “Living life with a sense of curiosity and a sense of challenge to want to see more, learn more, do more, I think that’s a great way to go about using the gift that we’re given,” Cena reasons. “That’s only my perspective, but I don’t think that should be just applied towards a career. I think that’s a great way to look at life.”

As for what he believes will sustain the character throughout a series, Gunn reflects, “Peacemaker has a lot to learn, and it wouldn’t take just one season of TV for him to learn that. But it is that ability to learn that he does have, I believe, that for me makes him a little bit more likable.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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