Peacemaker’s Vigilante Has Nothing To Do With Comics By Design

In the DC Universe, Vigilante has been a lot of people: a Wild West hero with a red bandana as a mask; a former district attorney driven to violence after the murder of his family; an undercover cop with superpowers thanks to a throttle accident.

He’s rarely been so dumb as in HBO Max’s new one Peacemaker Pin up. Portrayed by Freddie Stroma, Vigilante is introduced to the audience through a series of desperate voicemails he left for Peacemaker while the latter was in prison. It’s a far cry from the tortured loners who went by the Vigilante moniker in the DC comics, and there’s a good reason for that.

Like Peacemaker, Vigilante is a superhero who has gone through many changes over the years. He’s had no less than nine identities, sometimes with superpowers and sometimes without. In some races he exclusively uses non-lethal force, but in other arcs he has become increasingly violent with the criminals (and, at times, civilians) he apprehends. But since its beginnings in 1941 action comics #42, the character has always been an expert in armed and unarmed combat.

So why PeacemakerDoes Vigilante seem so different from its (various) comic book counterparts? According to James Gunn, it’s because that’s how he saw this character in the real world.

“I thought if this guy really existed, there really was a vigilante, a guy who dresses up, walks around and kills people who he thinks are doing something wrong – what would he really look like?” Gunn tells Polygon.

“And that’s where Vigilante came [from]. He’s very quirky and he’s a sociopath, but he has that kind of sweet aspect to him.

Most of this aspect manifests in his loyalty to Peacemaker, whom he considers an older brother. Unlike their bitter conflict in the comics, Peacemaker portrays the relationship between the two superheroes as kinship, though Peacemaker prefers not to see it that way. Both are incredibly skilled fighters and have a sort of misguided sense of justice. If Peacemaker is the kind of man who “doesn’t care how many men, women and children” he has to kill to achieve peace, then Vigilante is the kind of person who kills when he finds out that someone “murdered an innocent person – or did some graffiti.

Throughout the show, Vigilante walks a fine line of being objectionable but still, oddly, endearing in the clumsy, almost goofy way he conducts himself, even in brutal combat. Unlike the original Adrian Chase, Peacemaker‘s Vigilante is not a shrewd lawyer by day; he is a waiter in a local restaurant.

While Stroma credits Gunn for giving him “1,000 colors” to play with to create “just this weird sociopath”, Gunn thinks it’s Stroma’s performance that really brings out the winning side that helps keep the anchored character.

“I’m very comfortable with Guardians of the Galaxy because they’re not superheroes. […] They don’t dress up with a mask and say they know who’s right and who’s wrong and beat them to death. There are inherent problems with that way of thinking, if you had to say it was real,” Gunn says. “I thought it was a different way of approaching the character that also made a little more sense to me in terms of what type of guy would do that.”

About Raymond A. Bentley

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