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The Messed-Up Part Of Peacemaker That Fans Are Happy To Ignore

Before he became the sidekick to the titular hero of the HBO Max series "Peacemaker," the hero known as Vigilante (aka Adrian Chase) was a regular — although rather uninteresting — superhero in the comics. Chase is a former lawyer and judge, but when his family is killed, he becomes Vigilante: a dark, ethically questionable crimefighter.

The character was created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez and first appeared in "New Teen Titans" #23 in 1982, although his arc didn't really begin until his second appearance, which was in "New Teen Titans" #26. He eventually got his own solo title in which his actions become more and more questionable, and in the final few issues of the series, he starts killing villains with reckless abandon. In the last issue of his comic, "Vigilante" #50, Chase finds himself so burdened by his guilt over all the people he's killed that he decides to commit suicide in one of the darkest endings to any character in DC comics.

In "Peacemaker," a new version of Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) is introduced, and he's a far cry from the version of Adrian Chase in the comics. The character's origin is completely changed for the sake of humor. In the HBO Max series, Vigilante is a little-known costumed hero who works as a busboy by day and is somewhat of a socially awkward geek. But one of the elements that they kept from the comics was the dark, murderous element of the character from his final few issues, which makes it surprising that fans are willing to look past that and like the character.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Vigilante has no remorse

In "Peacemaker," Vigilante may just be some guy who decided to put on a costume, but he still has his comic book counterpart's affinity for violence. In fact, the most defining trait of the character is probably the fact that he kills people without remorse. In a thread in the r/KotakuInAction subreddit discussing "Peacemaker," u/arghoslent4president summed up the problem with Vigilante in the series. "What's really ridiculous is that vigilante has been shown to be a complete psychopath. But the show goes out of its way to show you that he's at least not racist ... which in hollywood, is worse than killing children casually on command."

A redditor with a now-deleted account tried to make this comment political, claiming that James Gunn was pointing a finger at "woke Hollywood," but the original commenter shut that down and said that wasn't the point. This became a hot topic of discussion, with a few people throwing out their own takes on Vigilante. Redditor u/CaveSP called the character "sadistic," while u/Wylanderuk argued that he's not a sadist — he just fails to see most other people as fully human.

Still, fans seem to really enjoy the character, and it seems unlikely that it's only because he's not racist. There's another reason why fans like Vigilante, and it has more to do with the character's personality — at least, according to the people who have helped bring Vigilante to life.

James Gunn says that Vigilante's innocence makes him relatable

In an interview with IGN, "Peacemaker" creator James Gunn talked a little bit about Freddie Stroma's version of Vigilante and what makes him so "lovable" despite his serious flaws. "Freddie is such a f***ing wonderful actor that he's able to pull that off, the sociopath, yet simultaneously being lovable in a strange way and having an innocence about him within all of that." Gunn went on to note that Vigilante's love and loyalty toward Peacemaker also make him a lovable character.

Freddie Stroma has his own take on why fans love Vigilante and why he's important to the story, as he explained in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "Sociopath is pretty accurate ... What he lends to [Peacemaker's] story is that he's trying to figure out where he is on the moral spectrum, and then that's what he's trying to figure out throughout the show. Vigilante represents what he was like before — maybe not quite as psychotic, but definitely killing people for graffitiing or whatever. He's definitely a psychopath, but with that comes a lot of colors and a lot of different ways to try and figure out what it is he's thinking."

Vigilante certainly does show that strange sense of innocence that endears him to audiences, at odds with his violent actions. But his awkwardness and desire to fit in, both with his buddy Peacemaker and the whole team, also make him a very relatable character — so maybe it's not that messed up that fans seem to like him anyway.