Written and directed by James Gunn, Peacemaker is a continuation of the DC character’s journey from last year’s film, exploring both his origins and inner turmoil after betraying the supervillain team.
Alongside Cena, the show stars Steve Agee, Danielle Brooks, Robert Patrick, Jennifer Holland, Freddie Stroma and Chukwudi Iwuji.
In Rolling Stone‘s four-star review, Peacemaker is praised as both a “gloriously goofy sendup and a sincere character study”.
The review reads: “Yet the series functions as a sincere character study of its flawed hero – and the unfortunate souls who have to work alongside him – just enough for the joke to never quite wear thin. Even in a wildly oversaturated market for tales of hypermuscular men and women punching their way to justice, Peacemaker stands out. You’ll wanna taste it, even the parts that are in incredibly bad taste.”
Polygon‘s positive review particularly praises John Cena, who is given “heavy, substantial material to work with”.
The review adds: “He’s already proven he can sell the comedy of the character, and it’s clear throughout the series that Cena is especially capable when it comes to improvisation. But the key to this series was always going to be his ability to manage the emotional gravitas that would make the character more than just a joke.
“And that’s what lets Cena find the heart of scenes where he’s sadly rocking out to hair metal, or emotionally connecting with a CGI bald eagle.”
The Daily Beast similarly describes Cena’s performance as “an absolute blast”, in a series that’s “funnier, leaner and meaner” compared to The Suicide Squad.
Not everyone, however, was sold on the character’s redemption arc. In The Hollywood Reporter‘s review, Peacemaker is described as “making the character more likeable, at the cost of making him less interesting.”
“In its quest to shed new light on a character who came out of his last movie looking dangerously close to outright villainy, Peacemaker loses too much of the darkness that made him compelling in the first place,” the review reads.
Peacemaker’s first three episodes will be released on HBO Max on January 13 in the US, with the rest of the series released weekly. A UK release date is yet to be announced.