Peacemaker: The Origin Of The Peaceful Vigilante – GameRant

Fans fell in love with John Cena’s take on the character, but what are the true life and times of this C-list Suicide Squad member?
The Suicide Squad made great strides in introducing obscure DC Comics characters to mainstream audiences through the big screen. Among the new fan favorites, the clear standout and beneficiary of his very own upcoming series is Peacemaker, a character that has lived in obscurity for over half a century.
Beloved WWE Superstar and movie star John Cena brought Peacemaker to film for the first time earlier this year, embuing the character with his trademark charisma and likability to great effect. His performance was highly praised and, among a cast of one-off performances, Cena's return to the mask was promised before the film even made it to theaters.
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Peacemaker was created in 1966 by now-defunct publisher Charlton Comics. Charlton was founded in 1945 and published a wide variety of works in their 40 years, including creating Captain Atom and reviving the Blue Beetle. Most famously, Charlton provided the cast of characters that were originally meant to be the cast of Watchmen, but the rights negotiations stalled, leading Alan Moore to create the characters fans know and love today. Almost all superhero media Charlton bought or created found its way into DC Comics' hands after their shutdown in the mid-'80s. On the long and lustrous list of new acquisitions for DC, Peacemaker was not the heaviest hitter.
Peacemaker AKA Christopher Smith was introduced in 1966 as a backup to Charlton's Fightin' 5 series, which was canceled shortly after his introduction. Following that, writer Joe Gill gave Smith his own series, totaling five issues over eight months. This version of the character looks quite a bit like the modern iteration, but his methods vary slightly. Smith was an American diplomat, so dedicated to the concept of peace that he would turn to vigilante action to secure it. His enemies were often warlords or belligerent generals, who he fought with planted explosives or non-lethal firearms. After the five-issue solo series, a sixth issue was planned but never released.
Twenty-one years passed without mention of the character. After acquisition by DC Comics, Peacemaker Volume 2 hit the shelves in 1988. This reboot of the character fully rearranged his backstory. This Christopher Smith, birth name Schmidt, is not a diplomat but is still a pacifist extremist. Smith is the son of an Austrian businessman who held command over a concentration camp in Poland, and who killed himself immediately upon that information becoming public. Smith inherited his father's business and subsequent wealth, allowing him to pursue immense philanthropy while funding his personal war for peace.
Peacemaker's violent quest began shortly after he joined the U.S. Army. He joined immediately as he came of age, near the end of the Vietnam War. Through a tragic misunderstanding, and with a gentle nudge from his father's voice in his head, Smith slaughtered the population of an innocent village. The army pinned all the blame on Smith, placing him in federal prison on a 20 year to life sentence. On top of that, the compounding trauma lead to a gradually shattered psyche. Smith was paroled some time later, with the intention of joining Project: Peacemaker, a secret police faction for the U.S. government, but the project fell apart, leaving Smith free and clear. Between his charity and his one-man army antics, this is when Smith became the Peacekeeper.
Peacemaker has only enjoyed nine total issues between his two limited solo series, the character was relegated to occasional ensemble appearances from 1988 onward. He has a small role in Crisis On Infinite Earths, fighting demons with a small squadron. He actually dies in later conflict with Eclipso, after being depicted in an exploding helicopter, but comic deaths rarely last. Smith appeared as an antagonist to Vigilante on a number of occasions. Smith also had a minor reoccurring role alongside fellow Charlton property Blue Beetle. His role in storylines he shares with the Beetle are vaguely ally-like, often just happening upon goals that both men can work towards together.
Of course, Peacemaker also works with the Suicide Squad. Peacemaker appears in Volume 1 of the Suicide Squad comic, entitled The Janus Directive. As is the default for the character, Peacemaker's role in the storyline is light. Peacemaker is one of many independent soldiers, manipulated by everpresent puppetmaster Amanda Waller. The team, at this time, does not feature a single member in common with the film's iteration, but Peacekeeper joins the fray under Waller's illicit orders.
The film's version of Peacemaker is different in a few subtle ways from his comic counterparts, in some ways combining the two origins. Rather than a Nazi, the film's Peacemaker is the son of a militant racist who forcefully trained him in combat early. Like the 60s iteration, the film version worked as an American diplomat, but he then gradually became radicalized and began his violent rampages. Smith finds himself jailed for his pacifist violence, rather than for accidental war crimes, and he maintains a nemesis relationship with Vigilante. The Peacemaker of the film combines the two comic backstories, adds some fun new elements, and creates an original take on the character that fans are thrilled about.
Christopher Smith is a gun-toting pacifist, driven mad by the trauma of his upbringing and his past mistakes, reigned in by the masterful hand of a puppetmaster. Peacemaker is a fun character and his newfound popularity will lead to tons of fun development for this hidden gem.
MORE: James Gunn Shares First Image Of Peacemaker's Team In Upcoming HBO Max Series
Replicas might just be the worst thing Keanu has done in the last few years.
Joshua is a lifelong film buff, D&D enthusiast, tournament winning Smash Bros. player and extremely passionate writer. He also has a BS in Psychology.


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