I have always been a fan of John Cena since the first time I laid eyes on him.
I am nothing if not shallow.
But his unique charisma, outstanding physique, and handsome, expressive face caught my eye the first time I caught a glimpse of him while flipping through the channels. Despite my lifelong passion for professional wrestling, however, I never watched any of his matches–my disdain for WWE, which began when they were WWF back in the day, has never abated, despite the hiring of so many heavily muscled guys with spectacular bodies–and was really happy to see him start making the transition to acting (following in the footsteps of Dwayne Johnson, Dave Bautista, and numerous others). I bought a DVD of his first film years ago relatively cheaply in a bargain bin (The Marine, if you are so inclined), and thought, at the time, “this dude could go far in films–he’s naturally charismatic and can act. He’s not Olivier by any means, but he can act enough to carry a scene and create a believable, likable character”.
But the film itself wasn’t good–it was produced by WWE, of course–and I hoped he would get another shot in something not WWE related. He has since proven he can carry a scene, and has done some really great character work in small roles over the years. I did keep thinking–I think this often–that he (and other professional wrestlers) should be cast as super-heroes; it’s not like they have to build up their bodies the way Henry Cavill or Chris Hemsworth had to, so was relatively pleased when he was cast as Peacemaker in the reboot of Suicide Squad–a DC Comic I had no familiarity with; likewise I knew nothing about the character of Peacemaker. But…as a Cena fan, I wanted to watch–and Paul enjoys a good superhero show/movie, too.
I didn’t realize the show was directed and written by James Gunn–whose Guardians of the Galaxy remains my favorite Marvel Universe film–but could immediately detect that Gunn sensibility I loved in Guardians in the very first episode. Not knowing what to expect, I was a little taken aback by the first episode–I thought the opening credits were strange, for one thing; and I wasn’t sure about the show’s tone, or if the characters were going to work or not. We were very close to giving up after the first episode, but decided to keep going.
I am very glad that we did.
It took about three episodes for us to completely buy into the story and the characters, but once the show gets its feet underneath it, it is actually quite fun and darkly funny. All the acting is good, the characters are clearly defined and their inner lives (and inner struggles) make them not only relatable but understandable and likable. They are, of course, on a secret mission to combat an alien invasion (code name: Operation Butterfly), and while the mission is kind of crazy, it works within the context of the show. Freddy Stroma–who is actually gorgeous–downplays his looks to play nerdy Vigilante, and Danielle Brooks is also fantastic. Robert Patrick is also perfectly vile as Peacemaker’s racist father, a super-villain known as the White Knight.
And yes, the opening credits eventually–as we got deeper into the show–became one of our favorite parts of the show.
And Peacemaker’s best friend, an eagle cleverly named Eagley, is also pretty hilarious.
We enjoyed the hell out of this show, and I highly recommend it. Can’t wait for season two–and may even go back and watch Suicide Squad.
And God, Cena is perfect. PERFECT.