In the DC Universe, Vigilante was a crowd of people: A Wild West hero with a red bandana for a mask; a former district attorney who was driven to violence after the murder of his family; an undercover cop with super powers thanks to an accelerator accident.
Rarely has he been as clumsy as in HBO Max’s new one peacemaker Show. Vigilante, portrayed by Freddie Stroma, is introduced to the audience through a series of distressed voice messages he left for Peacemaker while he was in prison. It’s a far cry from the tormented loners who were nicknamed the Vigilante in DC’s comics, and there’s good reason for that.
Like Peacemaker, Vigilante is a superhero who has undergone a number of transformations over the years. He had no fewer than nine identities, some with superpowers and some without. In certain runs he exclusively uses non-lethal force, but in other arcs he becomes increasingly violent towards the criminals (and sometimes civilians) he arrests. But since he first debuted in the 1941s action comics
So why peacemaker‘s Vigilante seems so different from its (various) comic book counterparts? According to James Gunn, that’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 in a costume and goes around killing people who he says are doing something wrong — what would he really be like?” Gunn tells igamesnews.
“And that’s where Vigilante came in [from], he’s doing really well and he’s a sociopath but he has such a sweet aspect.”
Most of this aspect is manifested in his loyalty to Peacemaker, whom he looks up to as an older brother. Contrasted with their acrimonious conflict in the comics peacemaker paints the relationship between the two superheroes as kinship, even if Peacemaker wouldn’t see it that way. Both are incredibly skilled fighters and have a 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 someone is “a murdered an innocent person – or made graffiti.”
Throughout the show, Vigilante walks the fine line of being obnoxious yet bizarrely endearing in the goofy, almost goofy way he behaves even in brutal fights. Unlike the original Adrian Chase peacemaker
While Stroma credits Gunn with giving him “1,000 colors” to play with to create “just this weird sociopath,” Gunn believes it’s Stroma’s accomplishment that really brings out the winning side that helps the keeping character grounded.
“I’m very comfortable with the Guardians of the Galaxy because they’re not superheroes […] They don’t dress up in a mask and say they know who’s right and who’s wrong and beat the shit out of them. There are some intrinsic issues with that mindset if you were going to say that was real,” says Gunn. “I thought it was a different way to approach the character, which also made a little more sense to me in terms of what kind of guy would do it.”