It seems near bankruptcy and firing the pandering crowd of woke workers has been nothing but positives for DC Comics. Now that they’re in financial straits, they have to actually try to appease their fans and holy shit was this show so far beyond anything I anticipated. Never did I ever, ever in my wildest fucking dreams think I would be praising the WWE wrestler I hated the most for convincingly playing a psychopathic hero. Oh my goodness, I love this psychopathic hero route that James Gunn has gone with Peacemaker and his buddy, Vigilante. I love this so much; none of that pro-genocide good versus evil bullcrap that supports imperialist narratives. Rather it shows violence for what it really is about beyond all the moral self-deception: people taking pleasure in killing others and finding reasons to feel good about it. Peacemaker’s morality of killing as many men, women, and children as necessary for peace is no different from the problems mentioned (but not really explored) with Emiya Shirou’s character in the Fate/Stay Series. Here, we see it played for a dark comedy in superhero form, revealing both the unlikeliness of “heroes” showing mercy as a positive benefit for humanity (as Peacemaker himself mentions) and the violent pleasure-seeking of killing people. Peacemaker still has a weak moral fiber to him which he slowly builds-up throughout the show, which changes his perspective on the final conflict when he learns the final villains sought the same ideal world as his and he had to choose between that and the bonds that he made with his new friends. Vigilante acting as a psychopath throughout it all just made the entire experience so much better because how James Gunn can effectively use him for violent comedic purposes. Moreover, the plot twists were solid and I really did enjoy the story despite the somewhat similar method to Suicide Squad 2021 in which Gunn had the final villain defeated.
What I especially like and can respect about this TV series which does what I have not seen Disney even attempt yet, is that it puts an LGBT character as a central main protagonist and makes it so that the TV series cannot function from important plot sequences without this character due to her actions being a driving force for the plot. Far from Disney’s anti-LGBT erasure in their latest Dr. Strange into the Multiverse of Madness film, this is not a TV show where you can add a 5 second clip of an LGBT couple filling up some replaceable background role that can be edited out or altered for audiences in countries where LGBT human rights aren’t recognized or respected. The second most important character in this show, Leota Adebayo, has her own character arc with her conflict between what her mother wants and her own moral compass, makes choices that directly impact the plot, and has to work around the taxing struggles of the job that she has been assigned by her mother and her wife suggesting that they try to find a better way since she can see the moral quandaries pressing upon Leota’s conscience. Leota constantly struggles between loyalty and love for her mother, her own moral compass on what should be considered right and wrong, and her newfound friendship and the implicit trust that Peacemaker gives her when they become close friends. What I really liked, and which honestly impressed me, was that Leota was not depicted as some moral paragon showing LGBT people as always positive, wholesome, and only ever doing morally virtuous acts; she makes choices that betray other peoples’ trust in her due to the love for her mother and slowly has to build back that trust that she betrayed from her team. Moreover, she understands that doing so would violate her mother’s implicit trust in her, but goes forward with it because she feels that it is the right path.
I don’t even want to say anything about Peacemaker’s arc, because it is so frickin’ good and I enjoyed it from start to finish. I liked most of the dialogue, but one of the jokes wore thin quickly in one of the later episodes. Also, when watching the relationships of the characters, part of me can’t help but think of this as more a really good crime / drama and less of a superhero / anti-hero story. Sometimes, I feel that the line has become blurred and I often wonder if the superhero franchise simply has so much more to offer and has better depictions of realistic character relationships than actual drama shows. Peacemaker’s arc related to his father’s White Supremacy, the animosity between them, and him still wanting his hate-filled father’s affection was astonishing in the way that it directly tackled a family filled with hateful beliefs and views as its bedrock. It highlighted how Peacemaker really did try to change for the positive in his own way despite coming from such a background and ending up a psychopath.
I really liked Season 1 and it made me feel glad that I bought an HBO Max Subscription. Season 1 gets a 10 / 10 in my view.