DC movie fans now have confirmation that True Blood and Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello is playing Deathstroke in the DCEU, beginning with Ben Affleck's Batman solo movie.
Deathstroke (aka "The Terminator," aka Slade Wilson) has long been a comic book icon - but he also made a strong impression on the small screen, when Slade Wilson was the featured villain on season 2 of the CW's hit show, Arrow.
For a lot of DC fans, actor Manu Bennett made the Arrow version of Slade Wilson something worthy to be included in the DC Universe, so inevitably there will be comparisons made between Bennett's TV version of Deathstroke and the DCEU movie version that Joe Manganiello will deliver.
But like any character that exists in both the DCEU and DC TV universe (or "Flarrowverse"), there is little need (or reason, or sense) in comparison; they'll probably be very different, and exist in very different contexts. Here's How we expect DCEU Deathstroke to be Different from TV Deathstroke.
Different Context Makes Different Men
In the comic book origin stories (old and new), Slade is a gifted soldier who falls in love with his training officer, eventually marries her, undergoes a radical experiment, and is enhanced into the world's top mercenary, known as "The Terminator." A mission of personal nature results in him losing his one eye, and in each of the origin stories, his family is hurt by his life of violence, resulting in him being alone. Slade has a twisted code of honor about who he kills, and believes in the almighty dollar as the only true legacy to leave his family.
On Arrow, Slade Wilson's traditional DC Comics origin was completely revamped into a completely different arc, thereby creating a completely different Slade Wilson persona behind the Deathstroke mask. Slade was an Australian special agent who crashed on Lian Yu island during a mission, and eventually allied with Oliver Queen in a fight against Dr. Ivo for the Mirakuru serum. When injured in battle, Slade is injected with the Mirakuru which, combined with the death of he and Oliver's mutual love interest - twists his mind into something violent and unstable. Oliver thinks he kills Slade on Ivo's submarine, but instead Slade survived and tried to resume a normal life with his family.
However, a continued obsession with Oliver made his organization turn on him, and a shootout resulted in his family dying. Blaming Oliver for all his misfortune, Slade become the mercenary Deathstroke and eventually came to Starling City with a plot to create an army of Mirakuru soldiers, until he was stopped by Oliver's alter-ego The Arrow. Now Slade sits in the prison on Lian Yu that Oliver uses.
Clearly from those two stories you can see two very different depictions of Deathstroke, with the latter clearly falling on the misguided villain side of things, rather than having the "anti-hero" nature of his comic book counterpart.
As Comicbook.com's DC expert, Russ Burlingame breaks it down:
"It seems likely that the biggest difference between the Deathstroke we see on film and that one we saw on Arrow will be in his motivation and backstory. In the comics, he has an almost Shakespearian backstory filled with family drama and tragedy. That has allowed him to be a recurring character for decades rather than the one-trick pony that so many comic book characters can become. In Arrow, Slade's backstory and motivation were specific to Oliver, and tied up in a personal betrayal that festered for years… something that would be difficult to make work in the one-and-done format of making a big-budget movie as opposed to the serialized storytelling of TV and comics."
For our part, movie Deathstroke doesn't need to have the deep level of personal drama that TV Deathstroke did. Despite the complicated nature of his family life vs. his mercenary life, there's a simplicity to Slade Wilson's outlook and mentality that's always been a great staple of the character. Deathstroke wants money, and will use his top-notch skills for whomever pays, for whatever job... provided it falls within the boundaries of his personal ethics.
That simplicity makes Deathstroke exactly what we want him to be: a character who's like an actual Terminator, showing up onscreen with a clear target in sight, and going after it relentlessly, making it hard for Batman and Co. to survive the encounter. We want to see an elite agent of war onscreen, more so than a man.
But the great thing about Deathstroke is that he's not too rigid; like Schwarzenegger's Terminator character, Slade can be "reprogrammed," so to speak; if his mission is revealed to be too evil for his tastes, or if the right offer is made, then Deathstroke's relentless assault can be aimed at the bad guys, just as quickly as it was the good guys.
A killing machine that could operates on the side of both light and dark is a definite change from the TV version that we expect to for the more complex themes of the DCEU.0comments