Up to Peacemaker, James Gunn had never written a script for television. In fact, he’s not even sure he’s ever read a TV script before writing his own in an effort to keep himself busy during the early days of the pandemic. As a huge TV fan, Gunn decided to take inspiration from some of his favorite TV shows and apply those attributes to Peacemaker, the Suicide Squad spin-off centered on John Cena’s Christopher “Peacemaker” Smith. One of the series Gunn cites as an influence on his HBO Max show is that of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. breaking Bad prequel / sequel, You better call Saul, with Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill / Saul Goodman.
“It’s the ability to take your time telling the story,” Gunn says. Hollywood journalist. “Saul and Chris are both kind of sad characters who are really good in one area and really bad in a lot of others. So I think it’s really about taking that incredibly intelligent dialogue, that nature. relaxed from ingrained life and then mixing it up with the other things I wanted to do with the show. But I love You better call Saul. I think this is one of the best shows on TV, if not the best.
Gunn also points out the key difference between his feature film scripts and his TV movies.
“I took what I know about screenwriting and just let it unfold a bit more. It’s really the only thing,” says Gunn. “You couldn’t tell the story. Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and Peacemaker in a movie. It’s too weird where they start, where they go and where they end. So it’s just a much more complicated relationship, and you need things to be sharper in a two hour movie.
In a recent conversation with THR, Gunn also talks about the moment in The suicide squad where he knew he wanted to delve deeper into Cena’s Peacemaker character. It also updates the status of the highly anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Once I saw John’s amazing reaction to Rick Flag’s (Joel kinnaman) “Peacemaker, what a joke” line, I knew Flag’s last words would haunt Chris (Cena) and that Peacemaker would explore their ripple effect. Was John’s performance at that time one of the deciding factors for you to want to do this show?
I would say yes, but more so it was a scene with him and Ratcatcher [Daniela Melchior]. I shot this first. And there is a moment when he’s about to kill her and we see something in his eyes that is unbelievable sadness and regret. I don’t even know if Peacemaker was going to kill her then, but seeing John then made me say, “This actor is way more than I knew.” We know he’s a great actor; we saw it in Rail accident, Blockers and Team. But he’s also an incredibly talented dramatic actor and I knew there was a vulnerability in John Cena that I could help cut out and present to the world. So that was part of the driving force behind the telling of this story, of course.
You recently mentioned on Twitter that You better call Saul was one of Peacemaker’influences from …
And I guess it was more than Chris’ fondness for Hummel figures.
So did you attribute Peacemaker‘s complex family matters to Saul, namely the fraternal relationship?
I think it’s fairer in terms of the moments in Peacemaker where we are sitting in a restaurant, Fennel Fields, with our main characters and they are chatting. It is the ability to take your time to tell the story. Saul and Chris are both sad characters who are really good in one area and very bad in a lot of others. So I think it’s really about taking this incredibly intelligent dialogue, this relaxed, ingrained nature of life, and then mixing it in with the other things I wanted to do with the show. But I like You better call Saul. I think this is one of the best shows on TV, if not the best.
There is a cameo in episode one that I won’t name. Due to the pandemic and the show’s location in Vancouver, did this person zoom in from their own home?
(Laughs.) No, we shot it in Los Angeles.
You haven’t done a lot of scripted television in your career …
So did you refer to any shows and their scripts as a guide for the structure or something like that?
No, I just watch a lot of TV. (Laughs.) I watch television more than I do movies; that’s how I relax. I took what I know about screenwriting and just let it unfold a bit more. It really is the only thing. I let the dramatic moments unfold more. I let the funny moments unfold more. I let the action scenes go on for a bit longer. And I allowed the relationship to be a little more complicated. You couldn’t tell Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and Peacemaker’s story in a movie. It’s too weird where they start, where they go and where they end. It’s not really a romantic relationship – at least not from her perspective. But they are not not that either. So it’s just a much more complicated relationship, and you need things to be sharper in a two hour movie. So i don’t have [reference any scripts]. I’ve never read a TV movie in my life – I remember it. (Laughs.)
Despite the fact that King Shark’s CG caused you many sleepless nights over the course of Suicide Squad, you couldn’t resist taking on another CG character in Eagly. Was it less painful to realize than King Shark?
Yes! (Laughs.) King Shark was very, very hard to figure out, and he went through many different iterations. But Eagly is an eagle, so we went to Weta [Digital], who made a lot of King Sharks, and [visual effects supervisor] Guy Williams, with whom I worked Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The suicide squad and now on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. They already had an eagle, so we started there and then built our own eagle out of that.
The Harley Quinn movie by James Gunn and Peacemaker season two. When do we start production?
(Laughs.) Well, we’ll have to see. I think I’ll just fall apart for a while after Guardians 3. I am quite tired. I’ve gotten pretty hardcore the last few years so we’ll have to see the sequel. But I want to do Peacemaker season two so we’ll see what happens.
What is the distance Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? What percentage?
We’re about 20 percent, maybe. Something like that.
Chris has extensive target training with Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) in the woods, which they’ve likely done a number of times over the years. With that story in mind, was this footage partially included to show how Peacemaker was able to take on Bloodsport (Idris Elba) at the start of The suicide squad?
I grew up in Missouri, and when I was little I blew up a lot of things, man. We blew up a lot of things. We set a lot of things on fire. We fired with guns. We got out of the fireworks. We used to start with the bottle rockets and then pull out the bigger bottle rockets. One of us would be on fire and scream, then everyone would laugh. And then someone put out the fire and laughed too. And then we had to go back to our mothers and explain this stuff to them. So that was purely my superhero portrayal of what I did as a kid in the woods of Missouri.
The “Dye Beard” gag involving John Economos (Steve Agee) is hilarious, especially its silent evolution from episode to episode. Agee is he glad you included this track?
(Laughs.) I think Steve Agee wasn’t totally thrilled to have a dyed beard. He had to have a dyed beard for everything Suicide Squad. I think it made what we were doing a little easier Peacemaker in the days of Covid, so he couldn’t really go anywhere anyway. But the fact that he had to get a horrible dyed beard again for a TV show probably wasn’t his favorite thing in the world. And if we do a season two, we’ll have to think about it. But I think Steve was really happy to play this role. It’s given him a lot to do, and once you’ve seen Episode Eight we’ll learn a bit more about Economos and see Steve Agee doing things he’s never done before, which is great. He’s one of my best friends, and one of the great things about Peacemaker was able to do it with him and Jenn [Holland] and John and the people who were close to me. And now, Danielle [Brooks] and Chuk[wudi] Iwuji has become just as close. So it’s an excellent situation.
Peacemaker‘The first three episodes air January 13 on HBO Max.