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The Real Reason John Cena Agreed To Be Peacemaker

It's fair to say that when John Cena was cast as Peacemaker in 2021's "The Suicide Squad," nobody could have anticipated just how popular the character would become. The concept of Peacemaker is simple: he's a self-righteous psychopath who wants to achieve peace at any cost — no matter how many people he has to keep that peace. He's an absurd, overtly sadistic character that seems more villain than hero. And yet, Cena manages to steal the spotlight every time he appears on the screen. His performance as Peacemaker alternates between being hysterical, frightening, and somewhat tragic, and was acclaimed by fans and critics alike.

Now, Cena gets to reprise his role in the HBO Max spin-off series "Peacemaker," which will follow the titular vigilante in the events following "The Suicide Squad," and his new mission to save the world once again. From what we've seen thus far, the role of Peacemaker seems like a match made in heaven for Cena and for the DCEU as a whole, which is surprising given how unfamiliar the character was up until the release of "The Suicide Squad." As it happens, the obscurity of the character is actually the reason Cena took the role in the first place, as odd as that might seem.

Cena took the role because it was a 'blank slate'

In a recent interview with Geek Culture, John Cena revealed that the "potential" of Peacemaker is what drew him to the role. "You're starting with a blank slate, he continued, going on to explain, "['Peacemaker'] is not an IP that has been overly mined. We don't know a lot about it, so you kind of have the ability to craft it, and in that crafting, you can find what works and what doesn't." As Cena put it, "there's no shoes to fill," and he said he was drawn to the project by the possibility of exploring a character that nobody else had done before.

Cena also asserted just how fun it was to dive in and craft the character of Peacemaker, and it's clear that his hard work on the role paid off. His performance has been so well received that at this point — thanks to his performance in 'The Suicide Squad' — it's hard to imagine anyone else playing this character. Perhaps that's a testament to how much time he and writer-director James Gunn put into developing that character. The "blank slate" of Peacemaker's character allowed Cena to leave his mark on the IP forever, and with his spin-off series fast approaching, he will certainly have plenty of opportunities to continue exploring the role as Peacemaker as his story continues.

The first three episodes of "Peacemaker" debut on HBO Max on Thursday, January 13.