The most important aspect of director James Gunn’s films, aside from gratuitous violence, family drama, and adorable space-critters, is a truly bangin’ soundtrack.
Gunn’s ear for the perfect diegetic pop hit extends all back to his mainstream debut in 2006’s Slither, but reached creative heights in his first Marvel Studios effort: 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The soundtrack, dubbed Peter Quill’s “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” featured eclectic sounds from the ‘60s and ‘70s like Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” and Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child.” Gunn followed that soundtrack up with “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and another solid set of tunes for his first DC film The Suicide Squad.
With that in mind, music was always going to be a major factor in Peacemaker, the writer-director’s upcoming The Suicide Squad spinoff for HBO Max. Just how big, however, surprised maybe even Gunn, who wrote all of the series’ eight episodes and directed five.
“This was a soundtrack I was probably the most excited to create since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1,” Gunn told TV critics during the show’s appearance at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
“It’s a lot of ‘80s hair metal but it’s also a lot of ‘sleaze rock’ and hair metal that comes out of Europe. It was fun finding the really good stuff to inject the series with its flavor, which we kept throughout the whole first season.”
Peacemaker stars John Cena’s titular character from The Suicide Squad, an obscure DC Comics assassin obsessed with keeping the peace through whatever violent means necessary. As befitting a hero (or villain?) with such a grandiose identity, the show’s soundtrack is almost exclusively all screeching, hyper masculine Whitesnake-style glam bombast. (It also features a musical opening credits sequence that is pure schlocky TV nirvana.)
During the panel, Gunn recounted the circumstances that led to Peacemaker in the first place. When Warner Bros. exec Peter Safran and DC’s Walter Hamada approached Gunn to ask which The Suicide Squad character he would most like to build a spinoff around, there was only one who came to mind.
“I just found something really interesting about Peacemaker, both because I loved working with John Cena and I thought that he had a lot of acting gifts and comedy gifts that we weren’t able to fully utilize in the movie,” Gunn said. “I thought he was just a really cool, interesting character that could be pertinent to today’s world, in terms of his sort of backwards way of looking at things.”
Cena’s Christopher Smith a.k.a. Peacemaker does indeed have a backwards way of looking at things. From an impoverished background with a father (played by Robert Patrick) who quite frankly does not love or even like his son, Chris doesn’t pick up on social graces well. Nor is he what one would call particularly politically correct.
“His blind spots, in some places, are pretty terrible. And then, in some place, it’s just him being ignorant. Peacemaker is almost every guy that I grew up with in Missouri,” Gunn said.
Gunn went on to add that it’s Peacemaker’s blind spots that make him worth exploring in the first place.
“At the end of The Suicide Squad, Bloodsport (Idris Elba) learns a lot. He’s a better person than he was at the beginning. Peacemaker still has a lot to learn, and it wouldn’t take just one season of TV for him to learn that. But it is that ability to learn that he does have, I believe, as a character.”
If it won’t take solely one season of Peacemaker for its titular character to become a better person, then how many exactly is Gunn eyeing?
“I definitely have 87 seasons planned out,” Gunn said.
He also mentioned that he’d be up for doing a Sebastian the rat animated series, so get right on that, HBO Max.
Peacemaker is set to premiere in January 2022 on HBO Max.