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Peacemaker Delivers Brutal Violence While Being Incredibly Funny And Goofy At The Same Time

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Note: This review is based on the first seven episodes (of eight)

Following on hot off the heels of 2021’s The Suicide Squad James Gunn strikes again with more hilariously entertaining superhero shenanigans. Originally Peacemaker would seem like an interesting choice of the squad to be getting his own series, especially after the final act of The Suicide Squad revealing him to be a complete asshole, but very quickly the show establishes itself and manages to make Peacemaker, AKA Christopher Smith, just a little bit more likeable.

The show opens with John Cena’s Peacemaker busting out of prison and he unites with some new teammates to defeat a bunch of alien creatures known as butterflies. On the team are leader Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), John Economos (Steve Agee) and Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) two characters that we briefly met working for Amanda Waller in The Suicide Squad, rookie Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) who’s by far the most interesting of the team behind the Peacemaker, as well as Peacemaker’s wisecracking friend Vigilante (Freddie Stroma). It’s a completely different sort of team to who we last saw Peacemaker with in The Suicide Squad but it allows for a much greater exploration of the eponymous Peacemaker.

HBO Max

John Cena is absolutely perfect for the character and James Gunn’s sharp writing and direction makes the show stand out. Right from Peacemaker’s ridiculous pitch-perfect opening titles up until the end of each episode it’s filled to the brim with stupidity and the sort of gags we come to expect from Gunn. It’s remarkable that the cast can perform it all with a straight face. Everything about the show has this air of stupidity to it, whether that’s in the dialogue, Peacemaker’s bald eagle pet named Eagly, or even just Peacemaker’s costume. But the show somehow perfectly balances this stupidity with seriousness as it provides a great look at Peacemaker’s character and actually gives a reason as to why he’s getting this show.

There’s far more to Cena’s character beneath the surface and beneath what we’ve seen of him previously and there’s something that deserves exploration and that’s what the series does. He’s willing to get peace at all costs no matter how many men, women, and children he has to kill to get it. The main plot line of the show about tackling the alien species of butterflies that take over a host body seems a little similar to Project Starfish from The Suicide Squad -and in fact the show even jokes about this similarity- but the show also delves into deeper issues as we experience the relationship between Peacemaker and his white supremacist dad Auggie played by Terminator 2’s Robert Patrick. There’s so much more to Peacemaker as a person and what he’s been through that The Suicide Squad just doesn’t touch on at all so this show is a good chance to really connect with him on a deeper level and it provides us with reasons to actually sympathise with this character.

We’re inundated with superhero content at the minute and Peacemaker feels distinct enough from much of what Marvel are doing, even Gunn’s own Marvel projects, however there is an easy comparison to be made between this and Amazon’s The Boys. Peacemaker isn’t quite as sharp or as smart as The Boys is, nor are any of the other characters in Peacemaker anywhere near the high quality of Amazon’s show but nonetheless it’s a delight to watch and a break from the many Marvel series we had in 2021.

HBO Max

As the show runs on a lot of the humour starts to drip away with Gunn’s juvenile style of comedy getting a bit repetitive. In particular the novelty of Stroma’s quippy Vigilante, who initially seems like DC’s version of Deadpool starts to wear off. Very quickly his stupidity and lack of awareness gets boring.

Peacemaker delivers with its heavy and brutal violence along with being incredibly funny and goofy at the same time. James Gunn shows us once again that he can make something fun and vibrant that feels like it’s been ripped straight out the pages of a comic book. It’s entertaining as hell and a great start to the year for DC.

The first three episodes of Peacemaker premiere on HBO MAX on January 13th with new episodes releasing each week.

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James Gunn Has Released His DCU Lineup Today

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James Gunn’s DCU lineup has been revealed. Gunn says his new direction for the DCU will be an eight to ten year process of films and animation, that will all tie in together. Even using the same voice actors for animation in the live-action versions of the characters.

“One of our strategies is that we take our diamond characters — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman– and we use that to help prop up other characters that people don’t know. Like what happened with the Guardians (of the Galaxy) in some way. Like taking teams like The Authority, which is I know is just as spectacular idea for a film that is completely different take on superheroes. Because it’s really connected to Superman. It’s about to use those well-known properties to help lead into lesser known properties.”

“We’re going to promise that everything from our first project forward is going to be unified. But we’ve gotten very lucky for the next four projects. I will say here that Flash is probably one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.”

Creature Commandos — will be an animated tv series: “Animation will lead into live action and back into animation. It’s a way to tell stories that are gigantic and huge without spending $50M an episode.” Says Gunn.

Waller — Will be an HBO Max Live-Action Series

Suicide Squad, Viola Davis [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]

Superman Legacy — Will be the official start of James Gunn’s DCU.  “It’s not an origins story, it focuses on Superman’s balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. He’s the embodiment of truth, justice and the American way, he’s kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old fashioned.” July 11, 2025.

Lanterns — HBO Max live action series. “Our vision for this is True Detective. It’s terrestrial-based, it’s got two of our favorite Green Lanterns –Hal Jordan and John Stewart…it plays a really big role in the main story that we’re telling across our film and Television. This is a very important show for us.”

The Authority —  “There’s great wildstorm characters that were popular for a long-time and we’re incorporating them into the DCU,”

Paradise Lost — HBO Max live action series. “It’s going to be a Games of Thrones-ish story about Themyscira, the home of the Amazons and the birthplace of Wonder Woman. This drama is really about the political intrigue behind the society of all women. How did that come about? What’s the beautiful truths and the ugly truths behind all of that and what’s the scheming like between all the power players in that society?” The series will take place before the birth of Diana

The Brave and the Bold — This story will be Gunn’s Batman outside of Matt Reeves story. “who is a little son of a bitch assassin, murderer who Batman takes on, who is Batman’s actual son that he doesn’t know exists for the first 8-10 years of his life….it’s a strange father and son story about the two of them and based on Grant Morrison’s run of the Batman.”

Booster Gold — HBO Max TV series is about a loser from the future, who uses future technology to come back to today, and pretend to be a superhero. “Imposter syndrome as a superhero,”

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow  “In our series we see the difference between Superman who was sent to Earth and raised by loving parents from the time he was an infant, versus Supergirl who was raised on a rock, a chip off Krypton, and watched everyone around her die and be killed in terrible ways for the first 14 years of her life, and then came to Earth when she was a young girl. She’s much more hardcore, she’s not exactly the Supergirl we’re use to seeing.”

 Swamp Thing: — Will be a dark horror take on the character, that will tie in to the rest of the DCU

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Why ‘Joker’ Is Better Than ‘Captain Marvel’

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The 2010s proved to be the age of the comic-book movies and I’m not just talking about the Avengers movies, although they certainly changed the game for superhero movies, today I will be discussing are two of the most divided comic-book films of the 2010s and they are Captain Marvel and Joker or better yet, why ‘Joker’ proves to be a much better film than ‘Captain Marvel’.

I will start with what makes the ‘Joker’ movie better than Captain Marvel. For those that have not seen the ‘Joker’ movie, major spoilers ahead. Although, if you haven’t seen it by now, shame on you. It made over a billion dollars at the box office and became Joaquin Phoenix’s most successful film. 

Joker 2019 [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]

But anyway, the joker is about a struggling stand up comedian named Arthur Fleck who is constantly bullied and disregarded by society. Fleck lives with his mother Penny working as a party clown until he is fired from his job for bringing a gun into a children’s hospital. 

Afterwards, Fleck is beaten by three businessmen on a train. Fleck draws his gun and kills all three men, beginning his dark descent as one of the greatest comic book villains of all time. Now, let’s talk about Captain Marvel. Yeah I know, but it’s still part of the essay. 

Captain Marvel is about a young US Fighter Pilot named Carol Danvers who is the victim of a terrible crash that gives her immeasurable powers  after a Kree causes her plane engine to explode. And I’m only saying this not because I remember exactly what happened but because I’m reading that from Wikipedia. 

Now, before I break down anymore differences, let me break down how both of these movies are similar. Both movies address a character that is looking for more purpose in life. I understand that that seems like a very broad explanation but that is the case in these films. Both characters have something or a series of traumatic events occur in their lives, both characters go up against a powerful group. In the Joker, Arthur Fleck goes up against the Waynes and in Captain Marvel Carol Danvers goes up against the Kree, both characters find out who they truly are: It’s revealed in Joker that Fleck was adopted and abused as a child and in Captain Marvel Danvers figures out that she was captured by the Kree after she gained her powers and lost her memory and after discovering their true selves, they decide to use their newfound persona for either evil or for good. 

Now the reason audiences loved the Joker movie could be surrounded in the fact that the filmmakers brought light to a comic book villain that was never shown in a film until now, while Captain Marvel was divided amongst fans because in my opinion it seemed more like a filler in between avengers infinity war and endgame. 

And that brings me to my first point. Unlike Captain Marvel, Joker was designed to be a standalone film and not be part of a cinematic universe, despite the fact that a sequel is possible. But anyway, one of the reasons that makes the Joker movie so much better than Captain Marvel is the fact that it was meant to be a standalone film, which makes it unique. 

Captain Marvel on the other side of the Marvel spectrum is a movie within a collection of movies, which means that if it wants to really stand out among the comic book film genre, it needs to do something new that hasn’t been seen before and I don’t want to use these guys as a source, but rotten tomatoes consensus sounds like Captain Marvel just recycles old material.

Captain Marvel [Credit: Marvel Studios]

The consensus reads: “Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU’s latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula”.

Did you guys hear that last part? It makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula. It never said that Captain Marvel adds anything new in the Marvel Pantheon, it just makes effective use of an already done-before formula.

Joker’s consensus reads: “Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema”.

The consensus says that it is an evolution for the comic book film genre….and it is. It changed the game for comic book films and it did it with simplicity. It didn’t need to use extended CGI battles and epic fight scenes and that’s what made it so special. It was a departure from other superhero or villain films that rely on special effects to draw a crowd and that is what brings me to my second point as to what makes Joker better than Captain Marvel.

Joker is grounded in reality. Joker doesn’t reference any other superheroes with the exception of young Bruce Wayne, because it’s a film that attempts to tell a story about a mentally ill man that has been ignored, abused and disregarded by society and critics have been taken aback by the results. Many liberal critics are triggered by the fact that director Todd Phillips is shedding a light on a white male character that becomes a supervillain and ends up killing many people in the future. In fact, it’s so stirring for moviegoers that people have claimed it would incite violence or more mass shootings…and it didn’t. With that logic you could say the same thing about Tom Hardy’s Venom or Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool, but I won’t get into that.

Anyway, when you compare the plausibility–and that’s what Joker’s consensus says. Plausibility.–when you compare it to that of Captain Marvel, you realize that Captain Marvel by comparison is a fairy tale compared to the Joker because in reality you don’t get powers from a plane crash, you don’t have women fall out of the sky get chased by aliens and later on in the film blast an entire spaceship armada effortlessly. It….does….not….happen.

Joker 2019 [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]

The Joker however is more plausible. It addresses the fact that there are people with mental illness, which is a real thing. It addresses neighborhood poverty, which is a real thing. It addresses the poor protesting the rich, which is a real thing and it addresses people inciting violence which is a real thing. 

Had Todd Phillips taken a different direction to the origin story, like the Joker falling in a vat of acid, we would be having a very différent conversation because it would be a lot less plausible. In Detective Comics #168 in 1951, and revised in Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, where the Joker, before he became the joker, fell into a vat of acid after a scuffle with Batman, giving him a white complexion, red scarred lips, green hair and a frightening cackle and that explanation is so lazy. It doesn’t cut deep within the motivations of why this character is the way he is. 

Captain Marvel’s origin is just as implausible, except with aliens, spaceships and devices that allow you to look inside a person’s mind. I’m actually hoping that there isn’t a sequel to the Joker because if there’s a sequel and/or cinematic universe based on this one movie, Joker would lose its uniqueness and end up being lost in a slew of movies that are only being made to make money, because the best things in life must always come to an end….you know what I’m talking about Star Wars.

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Comic Book Movies

Shazam! Fury of the Gods | Official Trailer 2 | Warner Bros. Pictures

The film continues the story of teenage Billy Batson who, upon reciting the magic word “SHAZAM!” is transformed into his adult Super Hero alter ego, Shazam.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

March 17, 2023

Director:

David F. Sandberg

Cast:

Helen Mirren, Grace Caroline Currey, Zachary Levi

Plot Summary:

The film continues the story of teenage Billy Batson who, upon reciting the magic word “SHAZAM!” is transformed into his adult Super Hero alter ego, Shazam.

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