'Peacemaker' Series "Turns Up the Volume" on 'The Suicide Squad,' John Cena Says

John Cena‘s strange superhero/supervillain will do more on his new Peacemaker series than eat a bunch of empanadas.

The Peacemaker series will be a spin-off of James Gunn‘s The Suicide Squad, coming to theaters and HBOMax on August 6. The Suicide Squad is already looking like it will be absolutely wild, so when Cena says the TV series will “turn up the volume,” it got my attention.

“I would venture to say that Peacemaker actually turns up the volume on anything that you see in The Suicide Squad,” Cena told EW. “I want people to enjoy The Suicide Squad and I really think they will. Once they get a feel for these characters they’re going to want more and that’s where Peacemaker picks up.”

A Morally Gray “Superhero”

Peacemaker is a pretty weird superhero. Or maybe supervillain. He doesn’t have any wild superpowers, but he’s got the helmet, the costume, the advanced weaponry, and a jet pack. He also has a really skewed sense of right and wrong, and he often takes it way too far.

“The Peacemaker is an interesting character because his ego seems contradictory,” Cena told EW. “He is this guy who has developed this philosophy and he can use it as a blanket to behave badly: ‘I am doing this thing that is morally wrong but I am doing it in the name of peace so it’s okay.’ He views himself as a superhero but I think a lot of us would watch his actions and think that they’re morally wrong.”

A superhero who thinks he’s always in the right even when he’s not is the stuff of nightmares, not your traditional costumed crusader story. Then again, it makes sense, given this spin-off is Gunn’s quarantine baby. Gunn’s second feature film, Super, followed a similar premise, except its “hero” didn’t have any superpowers and existed in our world. Super gets pretty depressing, so it’s possible the Peacemaker series will go to some dark places, too.

“In WWE I always try to get people to describe their characters in one sentence and I think that one sentence [for the Peacemaker is] ‘He wants peace so much he’s willing to kill for it,” Cena elaborated.

Initially, Gunn thought of casting his Guardians of the Galaxy buddy Dave Bautista as the Peacemaker. That fell through when Bautista opted to star in Zack Snyder‘s Army of the Dead, and Gunn handpicked Cena to fill the toilet-seat-shaped helmet.

That choice turned out to be a good one when Cena showed up on set, according to Gunn.

“He was a bit of a risk,” Gunn said. “I’m hiring someone without auditioning. But he came in on the first day and just slayed and ended up being the best improvisational actor I’ve ever worked with in my life.”

If I had to guess, that probably has something to do with Cena putting on live performances for years during his time with the WWE. We’ll get to see just how that improv turns out when Peacemaker comes to HBOMax this January.

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