Warner Bros. went out of his way to ensure that James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad was not exactly seen as a direct sequel to that of David Ayer suicide squad even if it was. In the case of HBO Max’s new peacekeeper spin-off series, though the studio takes a very different approach to tackling the links between the rather messy cinematic universe.
It’s become commonplace for spin-off superhero series that have been informed by the events of major superhero movies – Marvel’s latest run of Disney Plus series all come to mind – to dance until about mid-season around the specific details of how they fit into the bigger picture. While you can usually conclude that these types of shows are set after the events of the functions that preceded them, they tend to feel that you are only meant to think about those details up to a certain point and in the abstract. until they can be easily pulled to the fore mid-season for emotional impact. The obvious reason for this is that studios want their follow-up shows to feel like stories that can stand on their own and don’t want the public to be put off if they haven’t seen every single project within a franchise. But this approach to world building often comes at the cost of shows that seem a little out of place and time or like they don’t know how to acknowledge key events their characters should be talking about.
While Warner Bros. probably had these concerns about: peacekeeper also, the show’s first episode immediately establishes its connections with The Suicide Squad with a level of straightforwardness that is refreshing and something more of these shows would like to consider. Before peacekeeper gets off to a good start, it actually starts with a full summary of The Suicide Squad which clocks in at just over a minute and does an amazingly solid job of keeping you up to date on a handful of key characters and moments from the film.
It is not immediately clear from the summary only which of? The Suicide Squad‘s narrative threads peacekeeper plans to pick up. But what’s very clear is how Peacemaker’s time for Amanda Waller influenced the arc of his near future. It is interesting to consider whether Warner Bros. would be happy to give The Suicide Squad the “earlier to” treatment if the film hadn’t premiered on HBO Max last summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While The Suicide Squad also had a theatrical release, it – along with the rest of Warner Bros.’ The 2021 release date — the day and date dropping on a streaming service raised eyebrows and concerns last year as directors and movie nerds lamented what that strategy might mean for the industry’s future. Mixed in with concerns about how streaming might harm theaters, the general implication was that any movie that premiered on a streaming platform was made less than just by coexisting with content originally created to live on those services.
While studios clearly have a financial incentive to put their functions on pedestals that way, it can go against their interests when their interconnected franchises grow as large as the franchises Warner Bros. and Marvel have expanded. Though Marvel still seems like it’s not always sure how to talk about it Avengers: Endgame in a way that feels organic and interesting, Warner is in a slightly different position simply because it hasn’t had such a large-scale event before, and peacekeeper is the first live-action superhero spin-off series to date.
Or the handshake between The Suicide Squad and peacekeeper will ultimately consider that the show’s first season will be a success isn’t clear yet, but it’s the kind of move the studio might want to consider more in the future as it continues to release features both in theaters as on HBO Max.
peacekeeper is now streaming on HBO Max with new episodes every Thursday.