Hey, that Peacemaker guy looks familiar… !

I can’t remember much useful from school (which inspired me to try and put together a high school reading list while in quarantine), but something that reminds me of comic books I read as a kid gets my brain working.

On Wednesday, HBO Max announced the development of a limited series built around the Peacemaker character that John Cena will play in James Gunn’s upcoming The Suicide Squad film.

But the key art released with the news trigged memories of an image that’s apparently stuck in my brain over the past 30 years. The headshot of Cena’s Peacemaker, drawn like a comic book illustration, looked a lot like John Byrne’s rendition of Captain America for the signature corner boxes that Marvel Comics put on its covers from the 1960s through the 1990s.

After finding a picture of Byrne’s drawing and lining it up side-by-side with the Peacemaker art (as you can see above), the HBO Max image isn’t the direct swipe I thought it was. But the Peacemaker headshot certainly seems inspired by Byrne’s Cap head.

That’s surely intentional. In the promo video for The Suicide Squad released during the online DC Fandome event, Cena summed up Peacemaker as “a douchey Captain America” (at the 0:58 mark):

Best of all, Gunn leaned right in to Peacemaker’s ridiculous costume (created in 1966) which even looks goofy on the comic book page:

Gunn’s satirical take on The Suicide Squad is perfect for these D-list characters (excepting Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who’s definitively A-list) who shouldn’t be taken seriously. (That’s what David Ayer’s Suicide Squad film got wrong, whether it was his fault or overzealous producers.)

From Entertainment Weekly:

Peacemaker is an opportunity to delve into current world issues through the lens of this superhero/supervillain/and world’s biggest douchebag,” Gunn said in a statement. “I’m excited to expand The Suicide Squad and bring this character from the DC film universe to the full breadth of a series. 

Gunn is writing all eight episodes of the Peacemaker series and directing some episodes, so the tone will be consistent. He’s going back to Marvel for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but hopefully he returns to DC because the differences in tone, storytelling, and genre can be what sets these movies apart.

With this and the Gotham City police drama spinning off from Matt Reeves’ Batman movie, HBO Max keeps looking better.

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