Director James Gunn has responded to a question about Peacemaker being a “racist” American hero. The Peacemaker character is one of the new additions to Task Force X in Gunn’s new film, The Suicide Squad, which appeared in theaters and on HBO Max in August. John Cena plays Peacemaker, who is depicted as a previous fighter who was taught to kill from the second he was conceived. Peacemaker, as played by Cena, appears to be a loyal yet naive government operative who will do anything to take care of business and has what it takes to make that happen (or, as Gunn puts it, “a douchey Captain America”).
During a Q&A at TCA (via TV Line) Gunn responded to a journalist’s question inferring that Peacemaker is a “jingoist, racist American hero.” Gunn acknowledged that Peacemaker has “a great deal of issues,” yet clarified the cycle further by saying he doesn’t plunk down to make his characters “likable,” yet instead attempts to make them “as completely fledged as conceivable.” Peacemaker makes various questionable decisions in The Suicide Squad, many of which will probably be investigated in the series, with Gunn saying the character actually has “a long way to go.” Read Gunn’s full statement:
“One of the things however that made me want to recount the story of Peacemaker is that he has a long way to go… . a long way to go. And it wouldn’t take only one season of TV for him to learn that. Yet, it is that ability to learn that he has that for me makes him somewhat more likable. His blindspots in certain places are quite horrible, and in certain places they’re simply him being ignorant. And I feel that’s an important distinction to make.”
While Peacemaker makes a ton of questionable and out and out morally inexcusable decisions in The Suicide Squad, the implications of his character being a “racist” vibe somewhat outrageous, and Gunn offers a truly reasonable response to that. It’s also invigorating to see an essayist and director stand by his decisions of creating characters that are far more intricate than cutout superheroes, whose moral compass always focuses genuine north. Gunn’s point about a character that’s flawed and can learn from their mistakes is a strong one, as it’s those intricacies that make human characters substantially more intriguing, engaging, and relatable. Whether audiences love or hate Peacemaker in the new series is still up in the air, however it will be fascinating to see whether he’s a hero, a villain or, as Rick Flag says, “a joke.”