SPOILER ALERT: The below feature contains minor spoilers from season one of Peacemaker.
She loves animals and dressing up her tiny dogs. She’s never been in the field. Sometimes she can’t stop talking. Honestly, no one’s quite sure why she’s even on the team. But Danielle Brooks' Leota Adebayo is just as valuable as anyone on Amanda Waller’s secret task force—in fact, I think she’s Peacemaker’s real hero.
“But the guy with arms as big as tree trunks,” you might be saying, “or the tough-as-nails field agent. Or the freakin’ PET EAGLE.”
I hear you! But let me explain why Leota Adebayo is top of the team.
Leota is all of us.
Peacemaker is the muscle. Murt is the leader, Harcourt is the handler, Economos is tech and tactics. So, what does that make Leota? The former proprietor of a Gotham City dog shelter is the new girl on the team. She’s also…well, us.
“She becomes the audience’s perspective,” actor Danielle Brooks said in Podly: The Peacemaker Podcast.
Leota is an ordinary person thrown into an extraordinary team of experienced agents and combatants who have taken out countless bad guys—and some of the good guys, too. She’s scrambling to keep up as she’s confronted with one bizarre thing after another. She can’t believe what she’s seeing and asks the questions we’re all asking. No matter what’s thrown at her, though, Leota stands her ground and is there when the team needs her.
She might be faking it until she makes it, but she doesn’t give up.
“I know that I’m not made for this shi*t,” she tells her wife, but Leota gives it her all anyway. While her duties include making dinner reservations and the occasional bribing of witnesses, Leota can handle herself. She has weapon training and received combat certification as a teenager. And she’s a dope wheelman.
She learns quickly that the job is a lot more dangerous than she anticipated, but she does everything in her power to back up her team with enthusiasm. If Leota is the audience surrogate, 99.9% of us would have quit on the first day, but not her.
She treats Peacemaker like a person—and a friend.
Leota is the first member of the team to look at the superhero on the squad not as Peacemaker, but Chris Smith. She calls him by his given name almost immediately. Leota sees Peacemaker as a person, flaws and all, and she’s willing to spend the time to get to know him. She likes him, and the feeling is mutual. Well, with Eagly anyway.
“I trust her the most because Eagly liked her,” Peacemaker says simply.
Not only does Leota give Peacemaker a sympathetic ear, but she’s also not afraid to call him out when he says something insensitive and/or offensive. (Usually both.) With her help, Peacemaker can start to work on being a better person. Now that’s a real friend! (Well, okay, there was the whole thing with the diary, but we can overlook that. After all, you try saying no to Amanda Waller!)
She’s risking everything for her family.
Leota is the rookie who’s on the team just for the paycheck. She may have fibbed to her wife Keeya by describing the job as simply filing papers, but they’re both clear about the real reasons she took it. Not only do Keeya and Leota need the gig to get back on their feet, Leota is on the team at the request of her mother—Amanda Waller.
“You’re the only one I can trust,” the director of Task Force X tells Leota with uncharacteristic honesty. Secretly on the team as Waller’s eyes and ears, Leota may be risking her life in the field, but her hidden true purpose proves to be the real danger for her. Still, with her family’s safety and her old way of life at stake, Leota arguably has the most to lose of all of the Project Butterfly team. Speaking of which…
Leota is the heart of the team.
She talks, she listens, and she gives people a chance. She also messes up and wants to make it right. Leota is the emotional heart of the team. She might be the daughter of Amanda Waller, but that doesn’t make her like Waller.
“Empathy?” asks her mother. “In this business, Leota, that will get you killed.”
Because of her, we see the same humanity and sadness in Peacemaker that she does. He’s a violent vigilante, yes, but he also experiences loneliness and regret. Through Leota, the audience sees past Peacemaker as a caricature and sees him instead as a character.
Compassion is in her nature, and even in a world with the likes of the Flash and giant alien starfish, it’s one of the strongest superpowers there is. Our girl Leota might be ordinary, but it’s her empathy that sets her apart and makes her stay with her team when just about anyone else would have bailed immediately. It’s also what makes her my hero.
Peacemaker's first season is now streaming on HBO Max. Are you as enthusiastic about peace as Christopher Smith? Check out our official Peacemaker series page!
Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.