John Cena’s Suicide Squad Character is Getting an HBO Max Spinoff

It looks like Warner Bros. is eyeing the Marvel Cinematic Universe strategy with new eyes now that it has its own streaming service. The studio announced that it’s greenlit a tie-in series for James Gunn’s upcoming film, The Suicide Squad, which will follow John Cena’s character, Peacemaker.

The series will run for eight episodes on HBO Max, and is scheduled to go into production sometime early next year.

The news comes just days after Warner Bros. announced that it’s making some adjustments to DC Universe, its streaming service for all things DC Comics—that service contained a number of original shows featuring characters from the franchise, and was billed as a destination for fans. The service is transforming to focus on comics, and its original TV offerings are headed over to HBO Max, where they’ll be joined by this new series.

The series will tie in with the upcoming team-up film, which is currently slated to be released on August 6th, 2021. Directed by Guardians of the Galaxy‘s James Gunn, it’s a soft reboot to David Ayers’ convoluted 2016 film Suicide Squad, which featured the team of DC villains as they’re blackmailed into helping the US government against a demonically possessed archeologist.

During Warner Bros.’ FanDome event back in August, Gunn described the film as “different from any superhero film ever made,” and it looks to be quite a bit more zany. The film will apparently be a bit of a new take on the franchise, and accordingly, introduces a whole host of new characters alongside some of the ones who are returning from the prior film.

One of the newcomers is John Cena, who’ll play Peacemaker, who he described as a “douchey Captain America,” who believes in peace at all costs. Cena will star in the series, which will be about the origins of the character. Gunn will write the entire season and will direct some of the episodes, before he jumps universes to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3 next year.

Given the number of characters present in the film, this seems like a situation where Warner Bros. is borrowing a page from Disney’s playbook—setting up companion shows to accompany its big tentpole releases and continue the story of some of their breakout characters via streaming.

Disney has set up an ambitious TV slate for itself: It has shows about the Falcon and Winter Soldier, Wanda and Vision, Loki, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, and others (and set up its own streaming universe with Netflix that included Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher.) Following that lead seems like it would be a natural thing for Warner Bros. to try and accomplish. After all, it’s seen that its heroes can easily translate into TV dramas—just look at The CW’s Arrowverse franchise. That’s not all the DC content that’ll appear on the streaming service: it’s also producing shows about Green Lantern and Justice League Dark, as well as DC Universe’s refugees, the third seasons for Doom Patrol and Titans, as well as the animated Harley Quinn series.

Indeed, Warner Bros. has already set up a handful of tie-in shows for its various properties. Its upcoming adaptation of Dune is getting a spinoff, Dune: The Sisterhood, and earlier this summer, it announced that it’s standing up a tie-in to Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman film, about the Gotham City police department. Presumably, with HBO Max now in the picture, Peacemaker is the first of many such tie-in shows that will continue to build and expand the already vast DC Universe.

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