The Unicorn Scale: Peacemaker

By Mary Jayn Frisk

June 01, 2022

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Photo credit: Image/HBO Max

Peacemaker, an HBO original spinoff series of The Suicide Squad, features John Cena as the “superhero” Peacemaker. The show picks up where The Suicide Squad left off with Peacemaker in the hospital after an injury due to questionable heroics. Peacemaker leaves the hospital thinking that he’s a free man but is soon captured by a team of agents from Amanda Wallers' office. The team recruits Peacemaker to help eliminate a new threat, the mysterious Butterflies.

Major SPOILER alerts ahead! And if you are unfamiliar with how the Unicorn Scale works, take a quick look at our grading rubric here

What I Liked:

What I appreciated the most about Peacemaker was the diversity that this show displays. There are diverse political perspectives, relationship configurations, and the cast had a wide range of body shapes, sizes, and colors. Although this sounds like a recipe for a pretty serious show, there's also a ton of comic relief that keeps it from getting too tense or serious. Everything was perfectly cast and the actors did a great job balancing the light and heavy fare. It was wonderful seeing the LGBT relationships displayed in the series so richly and well-developed, obviously I'll be talking more about that later. 

It isn't until the end of the season (episode 7) that Peacemaker's bisexuality is finally confirmed, but there are some lovely breadcrumbs along the way. In the first 5 minutes of the series,  while discussing Aquaman with the janitor that he befriended at the hospital, Peceamaker says, "He bangs chicks, good for him. He fucks dudes, got no problem with that. He starts fucking fish? That's taking it a step too far." Given his political leanings, his take on bisexuality surprisingly positive and nonchalant.  

Another clue to Peacemaker's bisexuality is his interestingly intimate relationship with Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), an overly attached Peacemaker superfan who is also a “superhero”. Although we can't confirm that Vigilante and Peacemaker are in a sexual or romantic relationship, one is certainly hinted at. In the first episode, Vigilante leaves a voicemail for Peacemaker saying, "P it's V, are you watching this game dude? It's so… Beep. Dude uh; I realize in that last message, uh, I called you P and me V as if you were a penis and I was a vagina. Uh, that, like, definitely was — it was not my intention." The last word is said with a sly cheekiness that leaves one wondering exactly what their relationship is. 

Peacemaker and Vgilante sitting at a table together looking at someone out of frame with serious expresions.
Image/HBO Max

Later in episode two, the camera shows us Peacemaker in bed. He is reaching for the nightstand to grab a joint. He takes a hit and the camera pans to reveal Amber naked in bed next to him as he passes her the joint. Amber inhales and the camera pans again to show her passing the joint to Vigilante, who promptly refuses. Amber had coerced Peacmaker into sleeping with her in exchange for her silence with the police. Vigilante had nothing to do with the original crime or deal, and it's unclear how or why he ended up in bed with the two of them. 

Another argument in favor or Peacemaker's attraction to men comes up in episode 5 when we learn that he gave nicknames to everyone in the locker room based on the shape and size of their penis. When asked, "why are you seeing their penises," Peacemaker replies, "It's a locker room, dude. What am I gonna do? Look at a towel?"


Finally, in episode seven, Peacemaker is confirmed as bi during an emotional fight to the death with his father, Augie Smith (Robert Patrick), also known as The White Dragon, an overtly racist, sexist, and homophobic figurehead and superhero for the white power movement. Augie says to Peacemaker "I knew you was unclean when you were born, and even more so when you killed your brother. I knew when you listened to that devil music. I knew when you shaved your body like a woman. I knew when you slept with the whores of polluted blood! And men!" You can feel and see the anger in Augie's voice in that last phrase.

This moment was raw and shocking. I feel like, especially for bi men, this moment was super powerful because it highlighted some of the cultural stigma surrounding male bisexuality. Here Peacemaker, this figurehead for "manliness," is being treated as less than simply because of his sexual orientation. I felt like this was such an important statement and this scene did it serious justice in my book.

Vigilante wearing a work uniform grinning.
Image/HBO Max

What I Didn't Like: 

For weeks, I've been rewatching the show, scouring it for any hint of dissatisfaction, but I couldn't find a single bit I didn't like. Every moment of Peacemaker was thoroughly enjoyable. The acting, script, plot, and moral undertones all sat well with me. The diversity and depth of the non-heterosexual relationships made this show feel so authentic. 

In one hilarious and highly relatable scene, a character sends her wife a picture of her genitals, and the entire team sees it. She panics and starts awkwardly oversharing. I've done this in my heterosexual marriage, and I thought it was a great example of a totally normal relationship, free from tropes and stereotypes. Ultimately we're all just people trying to navigate a complicated world. 

Peacemaker and Vigilante standing confidently looking at someone out of frame.
Image/HBO Max

My Rating: 

If I could give Peacemaker an inconceivably large number of unicorns, I would, but the limit is four, so four it is. This show did such an excellent job of showing genuine and organic relationships between all of the characters. It was refreshing to see male bisexuality take center stage in such a powerful and organic way. I, for one, cannot wait for season 2. 

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