If you're on the internet today (and if you aren't, but are reading this, that's a neat trick), you've probably noticed DC fans losing their absolute $#!+ over the revelation that longtime Teen Titans villain Deathstroke is headed to the big screen.
According to multiple sources, he'll apparently be the bad guy in Ben Affleck's Batman solo movie. He had previously been named as a potential member of the Suicide Squad back when the first movie was in pre-production, and then as a possible villain for the sequel, which is expected to be announced soon.
So, who is Deathstroke, and why does his inclusion in the forthcoming Justice League movie and beyond have DC fans going crazy? It's pretty simple.
Of course, for some people even the little bit of explanation that I'm about to do isn't actually necessary to enjoy the movie:
That Deathstroke tease is the kind of shit I love. No context, but enough to get you hyped as shit. Knowing and not knowing at once. Awesome— Paul Shirey (@arcticninja) August 29, 2016
In DC Comics, Deathstroke the Terminator (then called simply The Terminator for the most part, but for some strange reason that one isn't copyrightable) was introduced as a major villain for Marv Wolfman and George Perez's groundbreaking series The New Teen Titans in 1980. Besides being the primary antagonist in one of the best-loved runs on a comic book ever, he was the big bad in "The Judas Contract," widely recognized as one of the most important Teen Titans stories ever told. It's one that routinely appears on Best-Ever lists not just of Titans tales, but DC Comics stories.
(And, for those who take things like Batman: Assault on Arkham and Justice League Dark as omens of future things to come in live action, it's worth a reminder that there's a Teen Titans: The Judas Contract direct to home video movie coming after Justice League Dark.)
Deathstroke’s appeal is, in part, the way he's managed to become a one-character Swiss Army Knife, connecting disparate corners of the DC Universe: he’s got ties to one of the company’s most stories and underrated franchises (the Titans), he was the most memorable villain on its flagship TV show (Arrow), and he is, in many ways, the anti-Batman. If everybody loves Batman, how could you NOT love a version of him whose code of conduct is, “I’ll do what I want, because who’ll stop me?" They used that last bit to great effect in the Batman: Arkham games which, if you look at both Deathstroke's and Harley Quinn's aesthetics, clearly had a pretty significant impact on the DC Extended Universe.
Deathstroke is coming. Can't wait to this on the big screen. 🔥🙌🏾 pic.twitter.com/jd1W0uJj2t— Geeks Of Color (@GeeksOfColor) August 29, 2016
Being the anti-Batman is somewhat fraught with danger of abuse. Over the years, Batman became the dude with gadgets who can defeat gods and monsters with a little bit of prep time. Some fans argue that it can blunt the impact of Batman stories, when you know he's essentially unstoppable.
Those same arguments have haunted Deathstroke over the years, especially since the controversial scene in Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales's Identity Crisis when they had Deathstroke take on a group of superheroes that included The Flash, Green Lantern, and Black Canary, herself one of DC's best hand-to-hand fighters.
Of course, while that scene might have rubbed people the wrong way, it's hardly the first time a Deathstroke fight scene has been controversial. Take this one, from "City of Assassins," in which he beats on Batman while telling him that while Batman trained to fight, he (Deathstroke) "trained to kill:"
He's a dangerous guy.
"I told my editors about it and I said, 'Look, you've got to be careful and you've got to tell your editor pals that you've got to be careful who you put up against Deathstroke because Deathstroke is a killer. He doesn't just knock you out and go, "I won that fight." You have to be careful who you put in front of him because if Deathstroke doesn't kill them, we're violating the character,'" current Deathstroke writerChristopher Priest told me at Comic Con. "If Deathstroke is always getting his butt kicked, then we're violating the character. So you've got to stop that. If he's going to fight Robin, that means you're tired of Robin and you want Robin to go away because he's Deathstroke!"
One benefit to having a handful of great fights to work from is that in much the same way the uninitiated were blown away by Zack Snyder's rehashing of Frank Miller's Batman/Superman fight from The Dark Knight Returns, a similarly visually-spectacular fight between Batman and Deathstroke would be the centerpiece of a potentially-great Batman movie -- even though it does seem (according tosomebody who's been on a set visit, anyway) that Deathstroke won't be exclusive to the film reportedly titled The Batman:
Either way, a great fight scene could up the ante on DC movies, especially after Suicide Squad, which often felt like its fight scenes were sub-Arrow in terms of choreography and stuntwork. Hell, Arrow's criminally under-recognized stunt team might be able to give Team DCEU some tips, considering that Deathstroke was a key part of the show's second season, generally understood to be its best.
That scene was reminiscent of some of the fights from the Arkham games, which literally are animated and don't have to be limited by the capabilities of human actors:
In fact, if there's a drawback to bringing Deathstroke to the movies, it's likely to be that Manu Bennet's fan-favorite depiction of the character on Arrow is likely done for good now. The show has a history of killing off or otherwise doing away with characters who are headed to the movies (notably Deadshot and Amanda Waller from Suicide Squad). Of course, he's been gone since Season Three and had not-entirely-kind things to say about the show after he left, so there's a good chance that ship had already sailed for Lian Yu.0comments
Justice League Part One is expected in theaters on November 17, 2017 (the 25th anniversary of the Death of Superman in the comics). It will star Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Bruce Wayne as Batman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Henry Cavill as Superman, J.K. Simmons as Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon, Amber Heard as Mera, and Willem Dafoe as Aquaman's Atlantean mentor Vulko.
...Plus, apparently, somebody as Deathstroke.