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James Gunn's anarchic little corner of the DC Universe doesn't hold back in a new, red-band trailer for the Peacemaker series coming to HBO Max later this month. The violent and expletive-filled footage hits the ground running with the titular antihero (played by co-executive producer John Cena) speaking to a classroom full of young children, recounting a (most likely) fictitious story in which Wonder Woman once "eye f—d" him from across the room at a party. How's that for a Career Day presentation?
It's just the kind of insane world-building and reference to the wider comic book mythos you'd expect from Gunn, whose soft reboot of Task Force X in The Suicide Squad involved an offhand reference to Superman being sent to the ICU with a Kryptonite bullet fired by Bloodsport (Idris Elba). For all intents and purposes, the filmmaker is using obscure characters to turn the more iconic and beloved archetypes into raunchy punchlines and apocryphal tales of machismo. Not only is it a hilarious subversion of our expectations, it also grounds the story by placing a braggadocios jackass — we've all come across one or two of those kinds of guys over the years — in the spotlight.
"If superheroes really existed, what would they be?" Gunn recently pondered during an interview with Empire for the magazine's February 2022 issue (now on sale). "You kind of have to be f***ing insane to be putting on a costume and going around beating the sh** out of people because you think they're doing the wrong thing."
Watch the latest trailer below (please be warned that it contains language and visuals that may not be suitable for audiences under the age of 18):
Having betrayed his last squad during the mission to destroy Starro on Corto Maltese, the ultra-patriotic vigilante with the shiny helmet and pet Bald-Eagle finds himself teaming up with a fresh task force to take down the latest threat to American security. Easier said than done because Peacemaker's previous claim about his fanatical devotion to maintaining peace at any price is put to the ultimate test when he's actually faced with the prospect of murdering a child. He's in desperate need of a different worldview and one of his fellow team members, Danielle Brooks (Leota Adebayo), will be the one to deliver it.
"She's a Black, gay female, and he's this white-bread douchebro who's had a very uneasy upbringing, and the have different ways of looking at the world," Gunn explained to Empire. "A lot of Peacemaker's knowledge of what's happening in the world is based off of Facebook memes. So it's about people who have completely different perspectives coming together and trying to have compassion for each other beyond all of that."
Freddie Stroma (Vigilante), Jennifer Holland (Harcourt), Steve Agee (Economos), and Chukwudi Iwuji (Murn) round out the rest of the world-saving team, while the T-1000 himself — Robert Patrick — takes on the role of Peacemaker's emotionally abusive father, Auggie Smith. Gunn, who serves as an executive producer, wrote all eight episodes and directed five of them, including the season premiere. Peter Safran (The Suicide Squad) and Matt Miller (Lethal Weapon) are also executive producers.
Peacemaker arrives on HBO Max Thursday, Jan. 13.