James Gunns Peacemaker uses John Cena’s Suicide Squad member to build on controversial comments from Watchmen creator Alan Moore in a clever way.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Founder of Peace.
James Gunns Founder of Peace the show is the closest proof of Alan Moore’s controversial opinion that connects the origins of superheroes with the fascism of white supremacy. No other superhero adaptation has drawn the lines so closely, as John Cena’s Chris Smith is a vigilant who believes he is working in the service of justice and truth, but who was clearly poisoned and radicalized by the racism of his father, Robert Patrick’s Auggies. “White Dragon” Smith.
In a now infamous 2016 interview in which he condemned superhero-obsessed culture and its dangers, Watchmen creator Alan Moore said: “I think a good argument can be made for DW Griffith’s Birth of a Nation as the first American superhero movie, and the starting point for all the cloaks and masks.“Moore is, of course, a fiery soul and a vocal critic of many aspects of comics and broader culture, especially in terms of both corporatization of comics and deification of superheroes. Despite the way it has been framed at various points since its release, Watchmen characterizes no doubt the image of the political comic more than anyone else for gaining such wide attention.The comments in it are unpleasant, challenging and deeply political in a way that HBO’s adaptation of Guards firmly adopted to great success.
Moore’s idea of the connection between the KKK and Birth of a nation and superheroes are an extrapolation of the commentary on the dangers of vigilance that the MCU and DC movies have long explored as an undercurrent of their universes. Even beyond the meta commentary of Guards, threads established in movies like Captain America: Civil War and Nolans Dark Knight the trilogy has made comments about superheroes operating outside the law and the dangers associated with it, but no one has gone as far as James Gunns Founder of Peace. Not only openly playing with the notion of heroism – Cena’s scandalous character thinks he’s a hero – Founder of Peace draws the connection between the KKK and superheroic vigilance, which Moore claims irresistibly close to making it a conscious part of his origin story. He is not a reaction to it, he is a product of it. There is an obvious agenda for exploring these ideas, even in something as comedy-focused as The suicide group spin-off, and it feels like the conversation is becoming part of the playoffs.
The first three sections of Founder of Peace plays a lot into the idea that Chris Smith thinks he’s superior, but not in the same way that the twist reveals his father’s supervillain identity – the Clan-like White Dragon. He is above the law, willing to break it in a million ways to uphold it and protect justice. He is quirky and largely a product of his toxic upbringing, and openly struggles with accusations of racism because of his family history (even before the white dragon reveal) and the idea that his father is also a good man who seeks to uphold the same righteous principles. Clearly, there is a major disruption between the idea of Peacemaker as a hero – which he alone apparently pushes – and his father as the character who joined a neo-Nazi superhero group called the Fourth Reich in the comics.
In his honor, Gunn does not use the white supremacy established in Founder of Peace episodes 1 to 3, just to create drama on the surface, and the program’s trajectory seems to directly address the conflict between “superhero” and the same white supremacy origin that Moore talked about in his comments. This is an interesting, important part of the discussion, given that most superhero movie comments about the dangers of vigilance more often than not seem to strengthen the justice of the “heroes” who operate above or around the law. Peacemaker may openly be presented as something other than Batman, Superman, Iron Man or Captain America, but he sees himself as the same as them (or even better, as they will not go to his lengths to fight crime and injustice) and that is through his seemingly inevitable journey of self-discovery that Founder of Peace will explore the same ideas that Moore presented. If Smith ends up fighting his father – which also seems inevitable – that conflict will unfold in more real terms than even Zack Snyders. Guards or v for Vendetta sought.
Next: Why DCEU Multiverse Should Include Guards
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