Peacemaker actually knows how to exist in a cinematic universe
Warner Bros. did everything possible to ensure that James Gunn The Suicide Squad wasn’t exactly considered a direct sequel to David Ayer suicide squad even if that was it. In the case of HBO Max’s new Peacemaker spin-off series, however, the studio takes a very different approach to tackling the connections between its rather messy cinematic universe.
It’s become common for spin-off superhero series informed by the events of major superhero movies – the latest batch of Marvel’s Disney Plus series come to mind – to dance around the specific details of how they fit into the bigger picture until about halfway through the season. While you can usually infer that these types of shows are set after the events of the features that preceded them, they tend to feel like you’re only supposed to think about those details up to a certain point and in the abstract until they can be easily brought to the fore mid-season for emotional impact. The obvious reason for this is that studios want their tie-in shows to feel like stories that can stand on their own, and don’t want audiences to be freaked out if they haven’t seen all of a franchise’s projects. But this approach to world-building often comes at the cost of the shows seeming slightly off and off or like they don’t know how to recognize important events their characters should be talking about.
While Warner Bros. probably had these concerns about Peacemaker moreover, the first episode of the series immediately establishes its links with The Suicide Squad with a refreshing level of simplicity and something more of these shows could consider. Before Peacemaker starts correctly, it actually opens with a full rundown of The Suicide Squad which is just over a minute long and does a surprisingly solid job of getting you up to speed with a handful of key characters and moments from the film.
It is not immediately obvious from the summary alone which of the The Suicide Squadnarrative threads of Peacemaker intends to pick up. But what’s very clear is how Peacemaker’s time working for Amanda Waller has impacted her near future. It’s interesting to wonder if Warner Bros. would have been comfortable giving The Suicide Squad the “previously enabled” treatment had the film not ended up airing on HBO Max last summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While The Suicide Squad also had a theatrical release, along with the rest of Warner Bros. 2021 playlist – the removal of the day and date on a streaming service raised eyebrows and concerns last year as directors and film nerds lamented what this strategy could portend for the future Of the industry. Mingled with concerns about how streaming could harm cinemas was the common implication that any film to be released on a streaming platform was made less than existing alongside the originally created content. to live on these services.
While studios obviously have a financial incentive to put their features on pedestals this way, it can work against their interests when their interconnected franchises grow as large as those Warner Bros. and Marvel have built. Although Marvel always seems to not always know how to talk about Avengers: Endgame in a way that feels organic and interesting, Warner is in a somewhat different position simply because he hasn’t had this kind of massive event yet, and Peacemaker is his first live-action superhero spin-off series to date.
May the handshake enter The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker will end up factoring in the success of the show’s first season isn’t yet clear, but it’s the kind of move the studio might consider more in the future as it continues to release features to both in theaters and on HBO Max.
Peacemaker is now streaming on HBO Max with new episodes dropping every Thursday.