‘Peacemaker’ Season 1 Review: Quirky Morally Grey Heroes

Peacemaker

Spoilers Below

Peacemaker Season 1, created and written by James Gunn, is a funny, heartwarming black comedy D.C.E.U. Superhero television show. The show is centered around morally grey Christopher Smith (John Cena), a.k.a. Peacemaker, and the A.R.G.U.S. black ops squad codenamed “Project Butterfly” that he is forced to join.

Like all James Gunn projects, music plays a significant role in setting the mood and is integral to the show’s plot. Cena and Gunn rehabilitate Peacemaker in a way that doesn’t erase his sins. But instead, makes him a well-rounded character that audiences can empathize with throughout the series.

The “Project Butterfly” squad is a group of misfits that slowly bond over their love of hair metal and explosive skills. Peacemaker Season 1 is a fun ride. I can’t wait for Season 2!

CGI Eagle

Peacemaker (Christopher) owns a bald eagle named Eagly that took me a bit out of the story. Because the pet doesn’t look real. My caveat is that I find the loving relationship between Eagly and Peacemaker beautiful. And I don’t have a problem with the eagle hugging Christopher or taking on other human traits.

However, I do find Eagly’s uncanny appearance distracting. His CGI rendition does not work. When television shows or movies use CGI animals that exist in nature, it’s hard to buy that they are real.

The technology is just not there yet. Weirdly enough, I found the butterflies and their giant caterpillar-looking “cow” more realistic than Eagly. Maybe because these aliens don’t exist, I find it easier to see them as authentic beings within the world of Peacemaker Season 1.

Importance of Music

Music has always been an essential part of any James Gunn superhero content. The MCU Guardians of Galaxy trilogy wouldn’t work without Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) mixed tape full of rock classics from the 1970s and 1980s like “Cherry Bomb.” Peacemaker Season 1 centers around Christopher’s obsession with hair metal, a taste that is shared by Adrian Chase (Freddie Storm), a.k.a. Vigilante, John Economos (Steve Agee), and Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks). Hair metal and glam metal music establish the tone of Peacemaker Season 1 and act as an essential part of the story.

The opening credit song “Do You Wanna Taste It” from Norwegian glam metal band Wig Wam’s third studio album, Non-Stop Rockn’n Roll, establishes the television show’s tone. The instrumental music is upbeat, dramatic, and has a great rhythm that establishes the contrasting tones of the D.C.E.U. Superhero show.

Peacemaker Season 1 is both dark and playful. In this context, we can interpret the lyrics to somebody asking if they want to fight and warning them that if they enter a battle with you, they might not like what they see in the mirror by the end. A reading that can be grafted onto Christopher, a.k.a. Peacemaker, who’s forced to face his childhood trauma by the end of the season.

All the characters from Peacemaker to A.R.G.U.S. Agent Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) to Christopher’s evil racist father August “Auggie” Smith (Robert Patrick), a.k.a. White Dragon, does this synchronized quirky dance to “Do You Wanna Taste It.” They dance on this metal 80’s inspired stage that establishes the television show’s bizarre comedy.

Hair Metal Bond

Hair metal music is a vital part of Peacemaker Season 1’s plot that establishes the bond the Project Butterfly taskforce members share. In Episode Five, “Monkey Dory,” the task force kicks butt in a bottling factory crawling with Butterflies (brain infesting winged alien insects). This is the first moment that Peacemaker, Vigilante, Harcourt, Economos, and Adebayo bond as a unit.

In their van, the blood-covered task force celebrates their victory by rocking out to “11th Street Kids” by Hanoi Rocks. Adebayo laughs and bobs to the song as she drives the van. Peacemaker pretends to play the guitar while singing along with “11th Street Kids.” Vigilante mimes drumming during their ride home. Economos cleans his glasses while singing to the hair metal music.

Even Harcourt, who turned off the music on their way to the mission, quietly smiles. She sways to the rhythm of “11th Street Kids” The song is so important to this group of misfits turning into a team that 11th Street Kids becomes Project Butterfly’s new nickname.

The 11th Street Kids

Peacemaker Season 1 works so well because all the 11th Street Kids are highly skilled messed-up people who begin the show as the furthest thing from a team, then become one by the finale episode. In the second episode, “Best Friends, Never Friends,” all the characters are individually lethal but can’t work together in sync.

Peacemaker is an asshole “superhero” focused on killing everybody who gets in his way of achieving world peace. Adebayo is the Lesbian daughter of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), whose naturally skilled in kicking ass but wants an everyday peaceful life. Vigilante is a naive sociopath dedicated to protecting his “best friend” Peacemaker. Harcourt is a seasoned stoic A.R.G.U.S. Agent who will do anything to get the job done. She hates all of Christopher’s attempts to sleep with her. Economos is a depressed Geeky A.R.G.U.S. tactical agent whose an easy victim of Peacemaker’s bullying. Their mysterious leader Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), is a brutal mercenary.

The Bond Forms

Slowly the 11th Street Kids bond over their missions and private conversations with one another. Their bonding works because it feels earned. Peacemaker starts the season not trusting anybody because neither Murn nor his second in command Harcourt will explain what a butterfly is after ordering him to kill children. But, slowly, everybody on the team starts to trust and befriend one another because they see each other’s complex humanity. Peacemaker’s humanization is a vital step in the bonding journey.

In The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker is seen as a cruel man who will kill anybody to achieve world peace without any consideration. Peacemaker Season 1 teaches the rest of the 11th Street Kids that Christopher (Peacemaker) is not a bigot, faced childhood abuse by his father, doesn’t want to keep on killing humans in mass (especially if they are children) and has a large heart.

Christopher’s friendship with Adebayo blooms because she realizes he is a decent person under his asshole personality and mass killing. Harcourt even starts to develop feelings for Christopher by the end.

Final Battle Teamwork

By the finale, “It’s Cow or Never,” the 11th Street Kids conduct missions as a team. Peacemaker Harcourt and their posse are unified in one goal to save the world from the butterflies. Harcourt forms the plan, and everybody does their part.

The last major fight with the butterflies is choreographed to the opening credit song “Do You Wanna Taste It,” which works perfectly. The main characters dance in unison in the opening credits, in the same way the 11th Street Kid fights together in the season’s final battle.

Our flawed heroes finally emerge as the 11th Street Kids bonded by friendship and a joint mission.

Last Thoughts on Peacemaker Season 1

Peacemaker Season 1 is my favorite D.C.E.U. television series so far, with the perfect balance of comedy, darkness, and teamwork. Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

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