With the recent revelation that Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson will play a role in the DC Extended Universe, everyone wants to know what stories might serve to influence the films.
Deathstroke is rumored to be the central antagonist in Ben Affleck's solo Batman film. One thing that's handy is that while Deathstroke is only periodically a Batman villain, he doesn't really need to be for the movie to work. Affleck has said that his script will draw from the comics, but not be as heavily based on one or two specific stories as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was.
With decades of stories and a reputation as one of the baddest dudes in comics at his disposal, it's hard to pick the "best" Deathstroke tales -- but a little easier to pick out the ones mostly likely to shape his depiction in the movies, and/or play a role in how the story of the film unfolds.
Here's what we came up with...!
THE JUDAS CONTRACT
Here's my thinking: Since we know Jason Todd is dead in this universe, there's probably a pretty good chance Dick Grayson is already Nightwing, rather than Robin.
That could mean a version of "The Judas Contract" has already happened without us knowing.
In the classic story from Marv Wolfman and George Perez's The New Teen Titans, Deathstroke systematically disassembles the Teen Titans by planting a spy (Terra) in their ranks and then using her to get information on their secret identities so that he can hit them in their homes.
A similar story idea would be used years later for Infinite Crisis, with Deathstroke single-handedly taking on a team of superheroes including The Flash and Green Lantern, using only a sword and a laser pointer.
(Yes, it's about as silly as it sounds.)
Given how engrained the idea of the Titans are in "The Judas Contract," what could this possibly give us?
Well, if they don't just offhandedly refer to it as being backstory, as they did with "Death in the Family" during Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, the high concept of the story -- that Deathstroke infiltrates a hero's organization/infrastructure and uses that information to make that character's life hell -- could work fairly well in a stand-alone Batman movie.
All that said, it would seem like a waste to use the story like that, as barely recognizable or just backstory, and then render not only Deathstroke's best story but one of the best DC superhero stories of all time unusable.
CITY OF ASSASSINS
The "City of Assassins" storyline from Deathstroke: The Terminator, the characters' 1990s ongoing series, will likely play a role in the film.
Even if Batman and Deathstroke don't eventually end up teaming up against a common foe, the centerpiece of the story -- a beautifully-illustrated and brutal fight between the two that sees Deathstroke get the better of Batman -- is something we're almost certain to see the first time the pair meet up in the movies.
Aside from the fact that pacing-wise it makes sense and would help to build up Deathstroke -- he would need to be built up, being that he's a human with one eye and we've already seen the cinematic Batman beat the crap out of Superman -- there's just the fact that the fight looks so damn cinematic it would be a shame not to use it.
While a great many fans bemoan the "Deathstroke versus the Justice League" fight as being unrealistic to the point of absurdity, hardcore fans of the character mostly love it.
And, yeah, there's very little chance we won't see something like this in the film. Whether it's actually Deathstroke dealing with multiple superheroes, or just some other fight sequence of him doing something that seems two steps beyond the plausible, expect this controversial sequence to inform the movie in a significant way...if for no other reason than because one of the things we've learned so far in the DC Extended Universe is that big-selling comics like Identity Crisis can and will be cherry picked to help inform the big-screen interpretations of the characters -- and then the movies can feed back into the comics market, driving up the value on stories like The Death of Superman, which was conveniently collected in a new series of trade paperbacks just before Batman v Superman came out.
So what's the actual story? Slade is protecting Doctor Light, a supervillain who's on the run from the Justice League. Don't be surprised if either "protecting a supervillain" or "avenging a supervillain's arrest" is a big part of how Deathstroke ends up with a contract on either Bruce Wayne or Batman in the film.
Heck, given the fact that Luthor knows who Batman is in the DC Extended Universe, maybe that's the connection: Lex hires Slade to get some revenge, or to protect him from reapprehension following a jail break.
Rather than speculating exactly what iteration of Deathstroke's origin comes into play in the movies, let's just say it stands to reason that if he's not doing the bidding of a deranged supervillain, then Deathstroke's interest in Batman is likely driven by the Wilson family's seemingly never-ending string of troubles.
In his earliest appearances, Deathstroke was going after the Titans to avenge the death of his son Joseph, the first Ravager, who was briefly a member of the team.
In recent reinventions, the tortured relationship between Slade, his sons and daughter, are notes that are played on again and again. Don't be surprised if Dick Grayson plays a role in whatever interest Deathstroke might have in Batman/Gotham, and if Dick's involvement has something directly or indirectly to do with Deathstroke's kids.
During Infinite Crisis, Slade Wilson was one of the chiefs of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, which brought together nearly all of DC's active supervillains to make coordinated attacks against the world's heroes all at once.
Could we see something like that in the Batman movie? It's hard to say, of course, but it's worth noting that numerous rumors have indicated Affleck's Bat-reboot will feature numerous Batman villains, which might be an opportunity to put Deathstroke at the head of some organization that could put a bunch of them to use all at once.
THE ARKHAM GAMES
In the Batman: Arkham games, he took on a role that was less leadership and more tactical. Working with Black Mask, Scarecrow, and others, Deathstroke was often seen as the brains behind plans to take down the Batman, helping to enhance the unstable energies of some of the Dark Knight's baddies.
His code of honor eventually made him less of a threat, but along the way, Deathstroke was, second perhaps to The Joker, the most memorable and menacing presence in the Arkham games.
And, hell, even if none of that makes it to the screen, it's pretty clear that they're taking something -- the character's look -- more from the popular video game franchise than from the comics.
If there's a version of Deathstroke that non-comics people are familiar with, and it isn't from the Arkham games, it's from The CW's Arrow.
As the big bad on the show's best-reviewed season, Deathstroke was a genuine menace who managed to be a terrifying presence while still holding the hero enough at bay that the whole season wasn't just a string of fights.
He also served as the head of the League of Assassins. While it's unlikely they'll go that route (since Christopher Nolan used the League in his first Batman solo film), don't be too surprised if Deathstroke has underlings who are trying to imitate his success, and in and of themselves proving as a thorn in Batman's side along the way.
Beyond that, though, probably the most likely thing they're going to bring in from Arrow is the idea that Deathstroke spent literally years planning his revenge, and didn't even make himself known to Oliver until it was seemingly too late to stop him.