Peacemaker Is The Messy Bisexual Hero We All Need

While watching James Gunn's rowdy romp of a television series, "Peacemaker," I found myself wondering about the titular character's sexuality. After proudly declaring in "The Suicide Squad" that he would eat an entire beach full of d***s in the name of liberty, Christopher Smith a.k.a. Peacemaker (John Cena) has since confirmed that he's had sex with men, taken part in a threesome with one of his friends (though not his best friend), and overall dropped plenty of hints that he may be bisexual.

"Peacemaker" is a series about people defying expectations and recovering from the insidious effects of toxic masculinity, so its protagonist being something other than straight made a lot of sense. After all, we rarely see bisexual characters in fiction, and when we do they're often scantily-clad women made bisexual to titillate male viewers. Queer male characters tend to face quite a bit of stereotyping in TV and the movies. For every Omar on "The Wire," there are dozens of twinks whose only apparent purpose in life is helping the (straight) lead character find love. A big, beefy, all-American man like Chris being portrayed as queer without challenging his masculinity rules. It forces people to confront stereotypes, and better yet, it provides much-needed representation for men who might be afraid to come out of the closet due to upbringings like Chris's. 

In episode 7, "Won't Stop Dragon My Heart Around," we're given yet another clue to Chris's sexuality, and a hint as to why his dad's been so cruel all this time. Let's dig into what it all means, and why it matters. 

(Note: The terms "bisexuality" and "pansexuality" are often interchangeable, and for the sake of clarity I am going to stick to "bisexual," though I think there are arguments to be made for his pansexuality as well.)

SPOILERS for "Peacemaker" episode 7 from here on out!

A Different Kind of Representation

So what's my evidence for Peacemaker's possible bisexuality? In episode 1, he tells Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) that due to his stint in prison he hasn't had sex with anyone in a long time, then amends to "any woman." In episode 2 he has a threesome with Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) and Amber (Alison Araya), and later comments on Vigilante's genitalia extensively. (Chris also has an obsession with male genitalia going back to his school years, when he would give everyone nicknames based on their junk.) 

Peacemaker also makes it clear where he draws the line with sexuality with his comments about Aquaman, saying: "He bangs chicks? Good for him. He f***s dudes? Got no problem with that. He starts f****** fish? That's taking it a step too far." 

In an interview with Fox News in 2021, series creator and "The Suicide Squad" writer/director James Gunn explained that Cena played the character as a kind of "omnisexual," but that very little of that made it into the final cut of the movie:

"Peacemaker is sort of omnisexual, right? He loves everybody. He wants to have sex with everybody. So that's where [Cena] went at the end of every scene and it was always disgusting and always hilarious. But none of it's in the movie because it was just too disgusting for even me. And that's saying a lot."

That omnisexuality was reigned in a bit for "Peacemaker," though Adebayo does mention that it seems like Chris would "f*** anything," and she elaborates by naming a bunch of food items he would probably try to have sex with. Instead, he comes across as a battered bisexual himbo, attracted to just about everyone and unsure of what to do about it. 

In "Stop Dragon My Heart Around," Peacemaker's dad Auggie (Robert Patrick) points out that his son has had sex with both women and men, and then he calls him a f*****. That's the moment where Chris breaks and unleashes his righteous fury upon his hateful pops, screaming: "You were right only about one thing. I am a piece of s***. I'm a piece of s*** for listening to you for all those years!"

It's a heartbreaking moment made all the more poignant when you realize how much of Chris's self-loathing is wrapped up in his dad's skewed ideas on masculinity. Chris is breaking the cycle, even if he does it in a very violent way. For the first time in his life, Chris isn't hiding who he is from anyone. 

Why it Matters

"Peacemaker" offers a redemption arc — not just for Peacemaker to redeem himself in the eyes of his teammates and the audience, but also to redeem himself in his own eyes. In the early episodes, he beats himself up (both metaphorically and literally) due to the pain he holds inside. He's starting to change, but still clings to the vestiges of his past with his father because it's all he knows. He survived an incredibly abusive childhood with a man who was racist, misogynistic, and homophobic, and who probably saw his son's budding bisexuality early on and punished him extra because of it. 

Chris's love of hair metal is not only a way to honor the memory of his brother Keith, but is also the way he's able to express his complex sexuality without forgoing what he thinks of as masculinity. As he begins to open up and grow with the help of his teammates, he even defends the glam rock album covers and their traditionally effeminate looks. After she insults Poison, Peacemaker tells Harcourt: "I believe their preferred pronoun is long live rock, and you are sounding awfully awesomephobic."

So why does this all matter? When I asked James Gunn about the character's potential bisexuality on Twitter, I was set upon by a deluge of people, mostly men, who were furious that I had even asked. The homophobia was quick and vicious, and a reminder of exactly why it's important for LGBTQ people to have characters out there that they can identify with. Instead of being embraced as who they are, many bisexual men are kept in the closet by a society that's trapped in outdated ideas about masculinity. 

There also just aren't a whole lot of bisexual characters out there who feel like more than stereotypes, which is especially frustrating because bi folks often feel left out. There's a certain stigma towards being bisexual in certain gay and lesbian communities, and many straight women have irrational hang-ups about dating bisexual men. Bisexual erasure is a painful thing that many of us experience, and having a character as complicated and unconventional as Peacemaker be bi feels like a big step in the right direction. 

Peacemaker's bisexuality will not only help people feel more represented, but it could help people reassess some of their own beliefs. The main theme of the series is that often people who seem hopeless are often the most in need of redemption and forgiveness — and in episode 7, Peacemaker finally learned how to forgive himself. He's no longer letting his father dictate how he feels, and he's taking a huge step towards becoming a whole, healthy human. We still have one episode left to see how that all pans out, but at least now he's only fighting bug aliens and not his father and his long-held self-loathing. Here's hoping Peacemaker can finally find some inner peace. 

The finale of "Peacemaker" premieres February 17, 2022, exclusively on HBO Max.