James Gunn and John Cena have a new name to add to the cast of their upcoming eight-episode HBO Max action-adventure-comedy series Peacemaker, a spinoff series set to explore the origins of the character from Gunn's The Suicide Squad with Cena reprising his role and Gunn writing all episodes, as well as directing the pilot (and possibly additional episodes). Except this "new name" is going to be a very familiar face to those who see the film, with Deadline Hollywood reporting exclusively that Steve Agee (Super, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Brightburn) will reprise his film role of John Economos, a warden of Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary and an aide to Viola Davis' Amanda Waller (the actor also portrays Agee King Shark in the film).
Regarding the timeline for the series' storyline, Gunn says they're "holding off announcing" where the series will fit in context to The Suicide Squad until after the film comes out. That said, he also clarified that "explore the origins" doesn't mean the series will necessarily be a prequel series so fans shouldn't read too much into things yet. As for why Cena's Peacemaker would be the character getting a spinoff series first, Gunn says it came down to DC asking him, "If you could do a TV show about any character from 'The Suicide Squad', which one would you do 1st?", and Gunn went with what was exciting him "most creatively in the moment"- but that doesn't preclude other characters getting their individual moments to shine.
As for the "wrestling theme" running between his two biggest franchises (Cena in The Suicide Squad and Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy), Gunn revealed that he was into wrestling when he was younger and that one of his mentors was wrestler/artist Wayne St Wayne aka Buddy Frankenstein and Dr. Blood. That said, Gunn admitted he doesn't keep current on modern pro wrestling and that Cena and Bautista were cast in their respective roles because of their acting chops.
I'm over-the-moon excited to be working on #PEACEMAKER with my pals @JohnCena & #TheSuicideSquad producer Peter Safran on this new @hbomax original series from @warnerbrostv @DCComics pic.twitter.com/EsAkOVXB44
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) September 23, 2020
Working alongside @JamesGunn on #SuicideSquad was an absolute masterclass in how to best bring beloved characters to life in a new and fun way. I cannot wait for the #DCUniverse to experience more of absurdity that is the Peacemaker in this new project on @hbomax!!! pic.twitter.com/PZ9dOa7Dzj
— John Cena (@JohnCena) September 23, 2020
"Peacemaker is an opportunity to delve into current world issues through the lens of this superhero/supervillain/and world's biggest douchebag," Said Gunn. "I'm excited to expand The Suicide Squad and bring this character from the DC film universe to the full breadth of a series. And of course, to be able to work again with John, Peter, and my friends at Warner Bros. is the icing on the cake." Gunn and The Suicide Squad producer Peter Safran will serve as executive producers, with Cena as co-executive producer. Peacemaker will be produced by Gunn's Troll Court Entertainment and The Safran Company in association with Warner Bros. Television. The project is scheduled to begin production in early 2021, prior to Gunn's work on Marvel Studios' next Guardians of the Galaxy film.
Though specific details on the series are being kept under the same kind of wraps as the film, Peacemaker will explore the origins of the character that Cena will play in the upcoming film, a man who believes in peace at any cost — no matter how many people he has to kill to get it. "I have said before that it has been a tremendous honor and an incredible opportunity to be part of The Suicide Squad and to work with James on what is going to be a fantastic movie," said Cena. "I am unbelievably excited to have the chance to team up with him again for Peacemaker. We can't wait for fans to see this."