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It's Time To Talk About That Eagly Hug Scene In Peacemaker Episode 1

On January 13, the first three episodes of "The Suicide Squad" spinoff "Peacemaker" premiered on HBO Max, giving viewers their first taste of the brand new John Cena-starring superhero series. Episode 1 kicks off after the events of "The Suicide Squad," which left Cena's Peacemaker hospitalized. Though he should technically be in prison, Peacemaker freely leaves his hospital bed for the civilian world. Soon, members of ARGUS — which the US government organization headed by Suicide Squad organizer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) — let him know that his freedom is contingent upon agreeing to continue to work as their operative.

After agreeing to their terms, Peacemaker heads home to prepare for his new gig. There, his bigoted father has been caring for his bald eagle, named Eagly. Upon their reunion after Peacemaker's four years in prison, in a scene included in an early teaser for the show, Eagly envelops Peacemaker in his wings, effectively hugging his owner and cementing himself as a fan favorite.

If only because this scene is most likely the first on-screen human/eagle hug on TV, let's break it down.

An eagle hug is a very special thing

First thing's first: Eagly isn't real. Rather, Eagly is rendered in CGI, an overall simpler alternative to enlisting an animal handler for each of his numerous appearances throughout the series. So, when Eagly hugs Peacemaker, it's not a real pair of wings wrapped around John Cena's sizable shoulders, but computer graphics added in post-production.

With that said, an eagle hugging a human does seem to be a real-life possibility. In October, after the eagle-hugging footage debuted, series creator James Gunn shared to his Twitter account a video of author and wildlife rehabilitator Jeff Guidry he cited as inspiration. In the video, Guidry recounts taking a walk with Freedom — a bald eagle he helped rehabilitate after significant injury — in the wake of recovering from stage 3 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. While Guidry claims Freedom would habitually wrap one wing around his shoulder as a sign of affection, on that particular occasion, the eagle enveloped him with both wings.

Guidry, who has significant experience with eagles, describes this moment as a very special occasion. So, while Eagly's altogether less serious hug is precedented by this tender moment from a wildlife rehabilitator's real life, it doesn't sound like eagle hugs occur with any sort of regularity. When viewed through this lens, then, Peacemaker and Eagly would have to share a close and genuine bond for Eagly to even consider behaving in such a way.