The DC Extended Universe has had a well-documented history of troublesome creative decisions and failed starts. The casualties of these early woes include Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman, among other potential projects set within the theoretical Snyderverse. However, the course correction as of 2018’s Aquaman hasn’t been fruitless, and several elements have received the endorsement of comic readers and cinemagoers.
An initially-promising new direction for the DCEU began to take shape with 2021’s Suicide Squad, allowing filmmaker James Gunn the DC sandbox to play with. A surprising standout from this film and a subsequent self-titled HBO Max series is John Cena’s Christopher Smith, better known as Peacemaker. The character has proven popular through his mostly-implied history on the screen but has more epic adventures in the source material. Peacemaker is new to mainstream audiences and his comics by him provide a wealth of information that viewers may not know.
9 His Father Is A Nazi (New Earth)
Some viewers may have assumed Gunn invented the white supremacist element to Peacemaker’s father’s character (Auggie Smith) due to the modern tenuous climate surrounding race in America. However, the filmmaker finds precedent for this in Paul Kupperberg and Tod Smith’s peacemaker #1, which depicts the vigilante as the son of Wolfgang Schmidt, who is the commander of a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. Schmidt kills himself after the war crimes he committed are exposed and Christopher witnesses this act. It’s no stretch to say that Peacemaker is thoroughly traumatized by these experiences, leading to another staple of the character’s history.
8 He Has History With Mental Illness
The death of his father doesn’t rid Christopher of this familial demon; Kupperberg and Smith keep Schmidt around as a malevolent specter on his son’s shoulder. This is due to Smith’s guilt by association, as well as his mental instability. The latter is further evidenced by the antihero’s vehement belief that those he cannot save from death live forever in his helmet as a reminder.
This makes him one of the earliest major comic characters to confront such dicey topical issues without any sort of buffer. Cena’s modern depiction may portray these attributes at some point. However, for the majority, it has brushed over hints of mental illness in favor of more comedic moments.
7 He Sees Visions Of His Father
Smith’s aforementioned struggle with the voices in his own head gives way to the ghost of his father interfering in his life. However, this is more than just a sign of his character’s psychological condition. The vision he sees of Schmidt encourages his progeny’s more violent tendencies and tends to make him a less sympathetic character (obviously). Christopher’s historical battle with his subjective experience of him, as well as his communication of him with a vaguely otherworldly presence, draw parallels between him and Marvel’s Moon Knight. Like Peacemaker, Marc Spector suffers from a mental illness and supposedly answers to Khonshu, an Egyptian god and certified otherworldly presence.
6 He Commits War Crimes In Vietnam
The events of Kupperberg and Smith’s peacemaker #3 are a disturbing turn for the peace-soldier during the Vietnam War. Egged on by the voice of Schmidt, Smith massacres an entire village of innocent people. It seems an error by his handlers of him, who contributes to the incident as well. Following the end of the war, Smith would be brought up on charges for these actions and sentenced to some time in Leavenworth Penitentiary. It’s not entirely clear whether Smith’s DCEU counterpart served anytime in the armed forces, but his time in Task Force X essentially substitutes for the more controversial comic events.
5 He Fights Against The Anti-Monitor
Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s Crisis on Infinite Earths touched every corner of the DC Universe, including the activities of Peacemaker. The vigilante is seen assisting other heroes in Philadelphia by fighting the Anti-Monitor’s Shadow Demons.
During the events of issue #12, Smith suffers a head injury that is implied to further degrade his mental state. Given the dimension-shattering events of the miniseries, Peacemaker should count himself lucky that’s all he walked away from the fight with. This is also one of the few times the vigilante gets to fight alongside top-tier level DC heroes like Cyborg.
4 He’s Recruited By Amanda Waller (But Not For Task Force X)
Amanda Waller has a penchant for assembling impressive rosters of heroes and villains to combat insurmountable threats. The most notorious of these is Task Force X, otherwise known as the Suicide Squad, but she’s also responsible for the creation of the Shadow Fighters. This team, consisting of Peacemaker, Creeper, Doctor Midnight, Major Victory, Commander Steel, Wildcat II, and Manhunter, is charged with battling the villainous Eclipso. The Fighters are categorically wiped out by the spirit of wrath in Robert Loren Fleming and Audwynn Jermaine Newman’s eclipse #13, thus concluding Christopher Smith’s story before the New 52.
3 He Tries Being A Diplomat (Prime Earth)
Peacemaker’s entire schtick remains on the fact that he doesn’t make nice for peace. Cena’s most memorable line from TSS acts as a manifesto for the character, saying, “I cherish peace with all my heart. I don’t care how many men, women, and children I need to kill to get it.” Interestingly, this wasn’t always the case as Smith actually began his career as a diplomat, dedicated to the idea of peace through cooperation. The knowledge that he at least tried to effect change in a more civil manner grants readers a tad more sympathy for the vigilante’s dedication to his mission.
two He Fights Against The Dominator Invasion
The Alien Alliance, also known as the Dominion, is a technologically-advanced alien species from the outer reaches of space. Their primary means of asserting their influence are the Dominators, who act as the de facto leaders of the movement.
Heroes such as the Justice League fought in this momentus event when it occurred in Keith Giffen and Bill Mantlo’s Invasion! and it served as a conclusion to many of Giffen’s story arcs. Then, Jeff Lemire began a backup story involving Peacemaker in bottom 5 #1 which establishes that Smith fought in the conflict as well. However, as with most things Peacemaker experiences, it leaves him much closer to insanity.
one He Fights Doctor Manhattan
Alan Moore’s Watchmen is undoubtedly a pivotal work in comic book history, demonstrated by the follow-up launched by DC in 2018 known as doomsday clock. Created by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the series portrays the heroes of DC joining forces to ascertain the motivations of Doctor Manhattan, who is revealed to be the source of an explosion in Russia. The heroes travel to Mars in this endeavor but are unable to reach any meaningful solution with Manhattan. Given the latter’s significant power level, it should serve as no surprise that he easily strands the heroes on Mars. That includes Christopher Smith and the Peacemaker, who can no longer claim a belief in the Moon landing being faked (after all, he only needs to look up).
NEXT: DC: 9 Characters Who Didn’t Start Out In DC Comics
Naruto: 10 Villains Who Aren’t Actually That Bad
About The Author