Why Peacemaker sticks to a ‘mirrorball helmet,’ according to James Gunn

At a distance, Peacemaker is clearly identifiable from a few details: His red, white, and blue get-up; a bright dove on his chest which symbolizes that peace is so important to him that he’d kill to get it; and a voice that really projects all his terrible opinions and theories throughout the world.

Maybe most key to his look is his silver helmet, which for a former black-ops assassin is pretty conspicuous. As we see in episode 1 of Peacemaker, it comes with its own baggage and its own power (even if the comics never really instilled it with much depth).

Why Peacemaker wears a silver helmet in the comics

The cover of Peacemaker #2 Image: Tod Smith/DC Comics

Though a few people have picked up the mantle as Peacemaker through the years, the main one (and the one that James Gunn seems to have based both his The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker versions on the most) is Christopher Smith. Initially he was a pacifist diplomat who used non-lethal force to “maintain” peace around the world; later on, he adopted more violent means.

A mid-’80s reboot of the character reimagined his motivation. Paul Kupperberg and Tod Smith’s Peacemaker miniseries revealed that he believed the spirit of his dead father haunted him, criticizing his every move as he tried to fight for peace to make up for his father’s Nazi history. He also came to suspect that the ghosts of those he’d killed (and those killed around him) gathered inside his helmet and offered him commentary.

Beyond that, the comics’ Peacemaker helmet has sometimes had an array of “utilitarian” features that seems more all-purpose than Peacemaker’s single-gimmick chrome dome: In addition to the ultrasonic beam, the helmet has had a fuse for an RDX bomb, a laser-ray, a pocket radar, voice duplication equipment, and “underwater mode” abilities.

While the helmet sometimes looks more like a sleek bullet helmet, it’s often (as The Suicide Squad noted) shaped a lot like “a toilet seat,” with a giant lip around the top of his head — exactly as it looks in the Peacemaker show.

Why Peacemaker wears a silver helmet in the show

John Cena in full Peacemaker gear in a still from the Peacemaker show Photo: HBO Max

In episode 1, “A Whole New Whirled,” Peacemaker trades away his helmet for a ride home from the hospital. Not to worry — before too long he’s at his dad’s house getting another one. His father Auggie is something of a tech genius, having crafted a surreal lab that seems to stretch out forever and no fewer than 10 helmets for Chris to grab and go.

As outlined, each helmet has a different combat ability: he could grab the one that has X-ray vision, or that allows him to breathe underwater. One of them enables a full-body force field, and then there’s also the sonic blast. By the end of the episode, we see the latter helmet in action as it sends out a shockwave that eviscerates the woman attacking him.

At the very least (as we’ve seen in The Suicide Squad) it protects his head from bullets. But of course it’s not as simple as just its utilitarian advantages.

“He’s a guy who really, really wants to be loved,” James Gunn tells Polygon. “And one of the ways he does it is by wearing a mirrorball helmet, a bright red shirt, and tight white pants.

“And it doesn’t work for him, that’s the sad part.”

Peacemaker’s first three episodes are now streaming on HBO Max. New episodes will drop every Thursday.