WARNING — This article contains spoilers for The Suicide Squad.
Following the culmination of production on James Gunn's hit DC blockbuster, The Suicide Squad, the director went straight into work on a spin-off series for HBO Max, centered around John Cena's Peacemaker.
The series has already revealed an expansive cast of side characters that includes the return of Emilia Harcourt and John Economos. On top of the returning government workers, Peacemaker will also see the DCEU debut of Freddie Stroma's Adrian Chase, aka Vigilante, and Nhut Le's Judomaster.
Throughout the run-up to The Suicide Squad, James Gunn has refused to comment on when Peacemaker takes place in order to preserve the secrets of the film. While the series is expected to explore the villainous origins of John Cena's Christopher Smith, the movie's ending clearly set up a multitude of plot points to be explored on HBO Max.
HOW CHRISTOPHER SMITH BECAME PEACEMAKER
Unlike most of the cast, The Suicide Squad didn't dive too deeply into Peacemaker's backstory, likely to save some material for his HBO Max series - but it's clear his father played a key role in his origin.
Peacemaker's expansive DC cast will include Robert Patrick as the antagonist's father Auggie Smith, suggesting that Cena's solo outing will utilize flashbacks to add further clarity to his villainous origin story. However, Patrick's role is said to be as a series regular, perhaps indicating he will play a heavy role in the present day.
As the character was introduced in the film's opening, Amanda Waller revealed that Auggie was a soldier who trained his son how to kill from a young age. Past rumors have described Peacemaker's father as a vulgar and opinionated racist, something that traumatized him from a young age and was probably a critical factor in his vile transformation.
This troubled upbringing is likely what turned Christopher Smith into the mentally unstable man he is today, prompting his desire to bring peace and justice to the world in the way his father didn't. Ironically enough, this peaceful mission has since turned Smith into a mass-murdering vigilante, killing all who stand in the way of this mission.
RECOVERING FROM SEVERE INJURY
During the climax of The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker was revealed to have his own orders from Amanda Waller, separate from the rest of the team. His objective was to obtain a hard drive filled with files that incriminate the U.S. for their role in Project Starfish.
When Rick Flag got in the way of this mission, planning to reveal this intelligence to the world, Peacemaker brutally killed him following a heart-bounding fight. After coming face-to-face with Idris Elba's Bloodsport as Jotunheim crumbles to the ground, John Cena's villain was left seemingly dead.
However, The Suicide Squad's post-credits scene revealed that Peacemaker was miraculously saved from the rubble and now looks to be in intensive care. Based on the heavily injured state that the scene seems to paint him in, fans can assume that his recovery back to peak form could play a major role in the series' early episodes.
One could also imagine that he may seek revenge against the man who put him in this critical state, Bloodsport. Idris Elba's villain proved to be a fan-favorite of The Suicide Squad, so if he were to pop up again in Peacemaker, it would certainly prove as a shock to many and would allow the two gun-toters to face off once again.
SAVING THE WORLD...AGAIN
In the dramatic cliffhanger of The Suicide Squad's second post-credits scene, Emilia Harcourt told Peacemaker's doctor that they need his help to “save the f***ing world.” Assuming the bonus stinger was intended to set up the Peacemaker series as it seems, the stakes of John Cena's solo outing could be huge.
Based on the cast members announced so far, there is currently no clear villain for Peacemaker to save the world from in his HBO Max antics. Should Smith's rivalry with Vigilante continues in present-day in the HBO Max series, perhaps he may stray from his anti-hero roots to a more directly villainous arc.
The main foe of The Suicide Squad, Starro, wasn't confirmed for James Gunn's DC flick until just a few months before release. The director may opt to follow a similar route with Peacemaker in keeping the antagonist shrouded in mystery until closer to release.
PEACEMAKER'S RELATIONSHIP WITH ARGUS
Since Peacemaker will explore the twisted origin of Cena's villain, it would be interesting to hear the story behind his capture and first meeting with Amanda Waller. Perhaps Viola Davis' government chief could even play a small role in the series, given she was presumably the one who sent Harcourt and Economos to retrieve him from the hospital — both of whom will appear in the show.
Out of those who made it to the final act of The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker was the only one who knew the true content of the hard drive and was aware of the U.S.'s involvement with Project Starro. Waller didn't even tell her long-time colleague Rick Flag the truth about the mission, so why did she trust Peacemaker?
Some have theorized that the peace-seeking psychopath had been involved with ARGUS prior to the formation of Taskforce X. Unlike the rest of the squad, there was no real story behind how Peacemaker ended up in prison, leading some to believe his orange jumpsuit may have just been a ruse to trick other villains.
It will be interesting to see the state of Peacemaker's relationship with Waller and ARGUS after his injury. While he clearly followed Waller's order all the way, it's unclear how she may react to his brutal killing of her right-hand man, Rick Flag.
HOW DOES THE WORLD SEE PEACEMAKER
An interesting note is that as far as Christopher Smith's doctor was concerned, Peacemaker was the hero of the Corto Maltese mission. Perhaps the villain's compliance with Waller's agenda led her to twist the public image of events.
Every other member of the squad earned themselves a pardon for their crimes, in exchange for staying quiet on the true nature of Project Starfish. However, since Peacemaker's betrayal of the team came sometime before that, it's unclear if he earned himself the same treatment, or if he'll still be operating under the threat of death.
One remaining mystery is whether the rest of the squad are aware Peacemaker is still alive, or if he remains deceased in the rubble of Jotunheim as far are they are concerned. Should Bloodsport or the others discover his survival, it wouldn't be surprising to see them go after him to avenge Rick Flag's death.
WHEN WILL FANS GET A LOOK AT PEACEMAKER?
John Cena's solo series is expected to premiere just five months apart from the theatrical release of The Suicide Squad.
Warner Bros. will likely be looking to get marketing started early for its first HBO Max original DC series, so perhaps a trailer could hit the internet in September once fans have had a chance to catch the blockbuster in theaters.
Peacemaker will premiere in January 2022 and The Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.