James Gunn Merged Two DC Villains for Peacemaker

Don't expect a redemption arc for Peacemaker villain Auggie Smith, aka White Dragon. During a press event attended by CBR, writer-director James Gunn explained how he merged two existing DC characters together in order to create a "truly awful supervillain" as a foil for Peacemaker.

"John [Cena] and I talked about it on set. We talked about who his dad was. Now, at that point, I didn't know he was the White Dragon, but I knew the basics of who the character was," Gunn revealed. "In the scene with Bloodsport, you see John nod and smiling as he's talking about his own dad and what his dad did and you see him empathizing with Bloodsport in that moment."

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"I really did take -- there's two different characters from the comics. There's Peacemaker's actual father in the comics, the Paul Kupperberg father, which is the old Nazi from World War II. Then there is the White Dragon character, who's a separate character, and I just kind of melded those two characters to create a truly awful supervillain with very little chance of redemption," he explained.

"I also think that we come into this knowing that Peacemaker is a kind of bad guy, and then we see who his father is, and we go, 'Well, generationally, he's a step up,'" he added. "Certainly a better person than his father is, and maybe gives us a little bit more understanding for who he is."

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"It was very hard to write Auggie, because Augie is such a piece of shit racist, who would probably be saying the -- I didn't want to pull back on who he was as a racist," he shared. "I didn't want to make him this McDonalds-lite version of what a racist is, which is what you would normally see in television shows, but I also didn't -- we don't have to go unnecessarily into his bullshit. I didn't want to serve his bullshit, either. So that, to me, was the most delicate stuff in the show that I really was careful about and tried to do the best that I could to be sensitive and also be authentic at the same time."

Debuting in 1987's Suicide Squad #4 by John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell, White Dragon was originally introduced as a white supremacist terrorist named William James Heller who went on to fight the Suicide Squad. In Peacemaker, Gunn blended him with Peacemaker's father from the comics: ex-Nazi officer Wolfgang Schmidt, who was created by Paul Kupperberg and Tod Smith in 1998's Peacemaker #2. Between these two influences, Auggie Smith was never destined to be a good man, but it seems there may be room for personal growth in his son's development.

Peacemaker's first three episodes are now streaming on HBO Max, with new episodes airing weekly on Thursdays.

KEEP READING: Peacemaker: John Cena & Jennifer Holland Unpack Their Characters' Vulnerabilities

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Meagan Damore (5298 Articles Published)

Meagan Damore has served as a CBR Editor since January 2015, though she got her start as a staff reviewer in 2013. She discovered comics thanks to the plethora of movies and television she grew up with, like Batman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man, the original X-Men film trilogy, X-Men: Evolution and Justice League Unlimited. She picked up her first comic in high school and fell instantly in love with the medium. Later, she took her love for pop culture with her to college, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts from Suffolk University and a Masters Degree in Literature from University of Massachusetts Boston. She loves to apply her education to her work writing editorials and conducting interviews. You can catch her writing on Agents of SHIELD, the Arrowverse and more right here on CBR. You can also find her on Twitter at @metathor.

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