The following story naturally contains treats for the 2021 film The Suicide Squad.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad came out in August 2021. Which in some ways feels like yesterday. But in 2021 time (or, I guess, now, 2022 time) it also feels quite like many years ago. So it can feel a little scary to play on Gunn’s new HBO Max series Vredemaker, which follows the story of John Cena’s perfect character, without even watching the movie.
But that’s why we’re here. If you do not want to take the 2+ hours to fully immerse yourself in mr. Gunn’s bloody, vulgar, wild world (and it’s definitely worth it if you will – the movie’s still an explosion), we have everything you need to remember about Peacemaker itself and The Suicide Squad before you look Vredemaker, which serves as both a spin-off and a quasi-sequel to the R-rated superhero hit.
Luckily it is not that lots to remember; outside of Cena’s Peacemaker we still have a few characters returning, but beyond that it’s largely new characters and a new storyline. Still, it will help to be on the same page and know what it’s all about.
So without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?
So, uh, who’s Vredemaker again?
Peacemaker, real name Christopher Smith, is a “superhero” (in his own mind, at least) that we first meet in prison when he was put together as part of a team (with Bloodsport (Idris Elba)) composed for the latest black ops mission by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Bloodsport and Peacemaker have an immediate rivalry — both basically have the power to be really accurate and deadly with their weapons; Peacemaker claims he would kill Bloodsport by using a smaller bullet that would stab his own.
Waller thinks Bloodsport would be a good leader, but he mostly looks dejected and just wants to do what he has to do to get on with his life. Both killers are eventually sent as part of a team (one of two) to Molto Cortese, where their goal is to destroy a laboratory containing something called Project Starfish. The other team sent to the island is all killed except for two people (Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie)), who allow Bloodsport and Peacemaker’s team to show up unnoticed.
The movie follows the surviving characters for a while, merging both teams at this point (one scene from Bloodsport and Peacemaker showing how good they are at killing people is particularly fun). Peacemaker puts out his motto for life so that everyone can know: “I cherish peace with all my heart,” he says. “I do not care how much men, women, en children I have to kill to get it. “Yes. Psycho.
Eventually something is clear off, and we all find out: Project Starfish is really Starro the Destroyer, a giant alien Starfish that has been experimenting for 30 years, and also creates smaller versions of itself to take over people’s bodies. Terrifying! Waller in any case gave secret orders to Peacemaker to make sure the US involvement in Project Starfish was covered; when Flag finds out about this, he is furious and wants to take the evidence publicly. This leads to a fight, and Peacemaker eventually kills Flag with a stab of broken concrete in the heart. “Peacemaker — what a joke,” he says before succumbing.
At this point we all say the same thing: Fuck Peacemaker. He’s still covering his tracks, and is also trying to kill Ratcatcher 2 (another member of the rat control team, notable because Bloodsport is terrified of rats) to cover his tracks. But Bloodsport pulls him out with a taste of his own medicine – a smaller bullet from his own rifle, which pierces Peacemaker’s bullet and gets him in the neck. The building then collapses on him. Peacemaker, at this point, is apparently dead.
Have this. Anything else we need to remember The suicide group?
Yes. All the time it’s happening on Molto Cortese, we also follow the story of Amanda Waller and company at her headquarters. Waller carries out her corrupt (as usual) mission, and when she (again, as usual) goes too far and wants the bombs in our heroes’ heads to explode, some of her teammates take her out – including Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland)) and John Economos (Steve Agee) —to overwhelm her, knock her out, and save the day.
In a post-credit scene, we follow Harcourt and Economos into a hospital corridor where they find out that … Peacemaker lives! And oddly enough, not even so painful because he was shot in the neck and a building fell on him. And they then revealed that Waller had stabbed them with Peacemaker as revenge for those who overwhelmed her when she went mad with power. (This is the price you pay, I think.) And this is where we get the first look at what our core will be Vredemaker team.
Wait … are we supposed to root for this guy?
Ha. Yip! Look, he was definitely not a good guy in The Suicide Squad. And he’s not much better at it. Vredemaker or! But think of how anti-hero-centered performances sometimes work out; perhaps the best example of recent was Loki, who took someone who killed so many people in 2012’s The Avengers and made him someone we love, for whom we care and for whom we root. Good writing can do that for just about any protagonist, and when you have such a versatile artist as John Cena, those dance steps will not be difficult — even if he’s basically a jerk.
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