Peacemaker Was Influenced By Better Call Saul And Its 'Sad-Sack' Protagonist

"Peacemaker" is finally streaming on HBO Max, having successfully spun off from director James Gunn's well-received DC hit, "The Suicide Squad," and expanding on the backstory, motivations, and emotional layers of the villain/anti-hero/diaper-wearing vigilante, Peacemaker. John Cena used every ounce of his star power to bring the complicated character to life, though not everyone agreed upon the initial announcement that the bloodthirsty, "Peace at all costs" antagonist would necessarily be the best character to receive such an extended, potentially even humanizing focus. "The Suicide Squad" very pointedly and very blatantly critiqued the sins of imperialism and unquestioning nationalism, using Peacemaker specifically to make that commentary work. Would his role as the lead in his own series dilute or possibly even contradict that potent message?

Early returns would very much seem to put that concern to rest, but this is further bolstered by Gunn's most recent comments about his inspirations behind creating and writing this new show. Focusing stories on immoral and/or unlikeable characters isn't anything new and the key to "Peacemaker," as it turns out, involved taking cues from some of the best shows to ever do it.

Learning From the Best

You would think that filmmakers would consistently show off the absolute best, most refined movie/show tastes around. After all, directors like Edgar Wright routinely post their most-watched and favorite pop culture media at the end or beginning of every year, showing off an eclectic and deeply knowledgeable blend of indie, prestige, and big-budget pictures. And then there are folks like Quentin Tarantino, who seem to revel in the idea of having such spectacularly (but endearingly!) basic taste. 

Before he made his mark on the MCU, director James Gunn (in)famously hailed from Troma studios, one of the most prolific manufacturers of B-movie schlock and gore. But when it comes to his favorite television shows, well, Gunn's tastes are nothing if not refined.

In an interview with THR, Gunn answered all sorts of questions about the process of developing "Peacemaker." Given his utter lack of experience in the television side of the industry, the director had to rely on instinct, research, and learning from the best. In this case, that included taking notes from another spin-off — AMC's highly acclaimed "Better Call Saul." According to Gunn, there are some deep and abiding parallels between both Peacemaker (real name: Christopher Smith) and Bob Odenkirk's Saul Goodman (real name: James McGill).

"Both Saul and Chris are kind of sad-sack characters who are really good at one thing and then really bad at a lot of other things. So I think it's really just taking that incredibly smart dialogue, that relaxed nature of grounded life and then mixing that with the other things that I wanted to do with the show. But I love 'Better Call Saul.' I think it's one of the best shows on TV, if not the best."

Both Saul and Walter White, the lead of the equally as great (but in many different ways) "Breaking Bad," shine as sterling examples of how to properly convey the tragic story of once-decent human beings falling into greater and greater ruin that they bring onto themselves. I have yet to begin watching "Peacemaker," but the mere comparison to "Better Call Saul" makes me confident that Gunn knows exactly what he's doing here and realizes the tricky tightrope he's walking.

The first three episodes of "Peacemaker" are currently streaming on HBO Max.