The DC movies (specifically the DC Extended Universe) had what I would consider a sweet comeback in 2021 (or, at least, Task Force X did) with the release of The Suicide Squad - writer and director James Gunn’s sort-of sequel to the Oscar-winning 2016 comic book villain crossover flick. A key element of the film’s success was the scene-stealing John Cena giving what may be his best on screen performance yet as the morally inept anti-hero, Peacemaker, who is now starring in what looks to be one of the funniest DC TV shows to come to HBO Max.
The formerly comatose killer will not be alone in his efforts to save the world, as you can see from our breakdown of who is who in the Peacemaker cast and what other movies and TV shows you may recognize them from. It is only appropriate that we start with our title character.
John Cena (Peacemaker/Christopher Smith)
Reprising his role as a gun-toting killer with a flawed morality complex named Christopher Smith (better known as Peacemaker) is John Cena, who first rose to fame as a professional wrestler. After an uncredited appearance in 2000’s Ready to Rumble, he made his screen acting debut in 2006’s The Marine, which opened the door for him to lead more action thrillers.
However, Cena would later go against type and reinvent himself as a comedy star, with hits like Trainwreck in 2015 and 2018’s Blockers, before returning to explosive blockbusters like Bumblebee (also in 2018) and F9: The Fast Saga in 2021 - a year that also saw him co-host TBS’s Wipeout with Nicole Byer. The Vacation Friends cast member has more variety in his performing future, including a Jackie Chan action movie called Snafu, Matthew Vaughn’s spy adventure Argylle, and political thriller The Independent, to name a few.
Danielle Brooks (Leota Adebayo)
One of Peacemaker’s more driven teammates on the new Task Force X is Leota Adebayo - played by Danielle Brooks. She first broke out in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black cast as Taystee, before adding major motion pictures to her resume, such as The Angry Birds Movie, which saw the beginning of a voice acting career that includes Tangled: The Series and Elena of Avalor for Disney, Karma’s World for Netflix, and Close Enough on HBO Max.
As for her additional live action work prior to the Peacemaker series, Brooks had a guest spot on HBO’s Girls, a recurring role on Netflix’s Master of None opposite Aziz Ansari, and starred in a live production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing with an all-Black cast recorded for PBS’ Great Performance. She also received an Emmy nomination for playing the titular, trailblazing, New Orleans-based crooner in the Lifetime biopic Mahalia.
Freddie Stroma as (Vigilante/Adrian Chase)
As a vengeful lawyer turned vigilante who goes by the apt alias, Vigilante, we have Freddie Stroma, whose biggest role to date would have to be in the Harry Potter movies as Cormac McLaggen. Of course, on the other hand, he also appeared in Pitch Perfect in 2012, Michael Bay’s fact-based action thriller 13 Hours in 2016, and had a guest spot with the Game of Thrones cast that same year.
The British actor landed his first leading role as H.G. Wells on ABC’s short-lived sci-fi drama, Time After Time, appeared in three episodes of the hit Netflix period drama Bridgerton in 2020, and joined the cast of the platform’s original comedy The Crew, led by Kevin James. After Peacemaker, Stroma will star opposite fellow former Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs in the James Joyce biopic James and Lucia.
Jennifer Holland (Emilia Harcourt)
Another familiar face from The Suicide Squad cast reprising her role as ARGUS agent Emilia Harcourt in Peacemaker is Jennifer Holland, who also happens to be romantically involved with the series creator, James Gunn, and also previously worked with him on Brightburn, which he produced, in 2019. Earlier on in her career, after starring in a few straight-to-video movies and making guest spots on shows like Drake & Josh, she made her theatrical film debut in the bizarre horror-comedy Zombie Strippers! in 2008.
This was followed by more straight-to-video films (such as 2009’s American Pie Presents: The Book of Love) and TV guest spots (including a small recurring part on American Horror Story Season 2). Holland would land her first starring role on a TV show when she joined the cast of Sun Records - a CMT original period drama - as Becky Phillips.
Steve Agee (John Economos)
Also reprising his The Suicide Squad role as fellow ARGUS employee, John Economos, (not King Shark, whom he performed motion capture for) is Steve Agee, a comedian who made his acting debut in the 2000, straight-to-video Blair Witch Project parody The Bogus Witch Project, which he also directed a segment of. His first theatrical film was Bobcat Goldthwait’s riotous comedy Sleeping Dogs Lie in 2006 - a year before he was cast on Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program as a series regular.
His first time working with Peacemaker creator James Gunn was on 2010’s darkly comic superhero movie Super, the second time was in 2017 for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as a ravager, and the third time was on Brightburn. In between those titles, Agee starred alongside Gunn’s brother, Sean Gunn, in the 2014 horror movie The Hive, would lend his voice to Adventure Time as various characters, landed recurring roles in shows like New Girl and Superstore, and, in 2021, appeared in the drama Violet opposite Olivia Munn.
Chukwudi Iwuji (Clemson Murn)
One of the leading members of Task Force X on Peacemaker is Clemson Murn, played by Chukwudi Iwuji. The Nigerian-born actor made his feature film debut in the 2009 mystery thriller, Exam, before scoring a recurring role on Doctor Who two years later, followed by other guest spots in notable TV shows like Madam Secretary and Blindspot.
After appearing in Netflix’s Barack Obama biopic Barry in 2016, he scored his biggest movie role to date with John Wick: Chapter 2, appeared in the Shudder exclusive horror movie Daniel Isn’t Real in 2019, had a stint in the Designated Survivor cast the same year, and appeared opposite Tom Hanks in News of the World in 2020. He also did two episodes of Amazon Prime’s The Underground Railroad, is still a series regular on the British drama The Split, and will reunite with James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2023.
Robert Patrick (Auggie Smith)
As Peacemaker’s father, we have Robert Patrick, who, ironically, played John Cena’s enemy in The Marine previously. In fact, enemies are something the actor has always been good at, most famously when he played the liquid metal T-1000 in 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day and again in Wayne’s World the following year.
More notable villain roles of his include Coach Joe Willis in the 1998 teen sci-fi thriller The Faculty and Mr. Lips in Spy Kid (both directed by Robert Rodriguez), but he's turned to the good side a few times, like on CBS’s Scorpion or when he joined the cast of HBO’s Perry Mason reboot in 2020. Next, you can see Patrick in the action thriller Dark Asset, the western Hot Bath an’ a Stiff Drink 2, and the dramedy Shelter in Solitude.
The Peacemaker cast alone has me convinced that this will be remembered as one of the best TV shows on the 2022 TV schedule, if not just the funniest. The series is available to stream on HBO Max as of Thursday, January 13.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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