The Suicide Squad: Who is Bloodsport?

With yesterday's teaser for James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, fans learned that Idris Elba will play Bloodsport in the film. While he is likely playing Robert DuBois, one of three characters to take that name and the most memorable of the bunch, it also appears that he will be serving a role in the story not entirely dissimilar to the one occupied by Deadshot in David Ayers' Suicide Squad. The DC FanDome panel yesterday revealed that Storm Reid will play Elba's daughter -- likely mirroring the relationship between Floyd Lawton (Will Smith) and his daughter (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon) in the previous incarnation.

In the comics, DuBois doesn't have a daughter who is a big part of his story (while Deadshot, of course, does). First appearing in 1987's Superman #4, the character was created by John Byrne and was one of the first new characters created to face the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths version of Superman.

Bloodsport uses high-tech weaponry, including sometimes Kryptonite bullets, and has the ability to teleport them into his hands from a remote location or tesseract. During the Suicide Squad panel at DC FanDome, the cast and Gunn confirmed that Bloodsport would be in custody for shooting Superman, with the idea of a Kryptonite bullet coming up, but never fully explored or confirmed.

In the comics, DuBois was succeeded by Alex Trent, a white supremacist who appropriated the Bloodsport name while DuBois was in prison. Unlike DuBois, whose tech came to him later in life, Trent was experimented on as a child -- although he got the same powers.

Eventually the two would die, replaced by a third man -- or were they?

According to the DC Wiki there are three Bloodsports, but the third has only made a handful of appearances and has never been named. He took on DuBois's powers and looks like DuBois, so it is possible that he was either revived off-camera or that the writers and editors who used Bloodsport III were either confused or chose to ignore DuBois's death.

Let's dig just a little deeper into the character, whose previous live-action appearance came in an episode of Supergirl back in 2017 -- which of course means that these two are technically alternate-Earth doppelgangers, since The CW's take on "Crisis on Infinite Earths" confirmed through an Ezra Miller cameo that the movies are part of the multiverse that The CW's shows occupy.

In his first appearance, Bloodsport (Robert DuBois) was a deranged man who snapped after seeing the injuries and trauma visited upon his brother during the Vietnam War.

After arriving on the scene ranting and teleporting guns into his hands so he could fire into crowds, Bloodsport revealed that he was going to prove difficult to catch because he had a rifle that fired Kryptonite darts.

This was right after John Byrne's The Man of Steel miniseries, so Kryptonite was borderline non-existent, making it clear to Superman and the readers that Bloodsport was working for Lex Luthor.

Not only did DuBois not realize that the mysterious benefactor who had outfitted him with his teleportation tech was Luthor, but he actually shot up one of LexCorp's properties at one point in the story.

Ultimately, Luthor was not prepared for the civilian casualties that would come with Bloodsport, having recruited him in the hopes that he could kill Superman by proxy and have deniability because DuBois was clearly in need of help. As Luthor security and Superman converge on DuBois, it is his multiple-amputee brother who talks him down, urging Robert to surrender to the police.

Because his story was one of misplaced anger and not genuine villainy, Bloodsport actually vanished at this point, going quietly to jail for several years in real time before making only his second-ever appearance in the comics (we'll get to it).

Just two months after Superman was "back for good" from his death at the hands of Doomsday, another Bloodsport appeared.

This one, too, had an agonizing and politically-tinged backstory but much less sympathetic.

Introduced when a group of thugs were beating up on a woman in an alley, it was at first implied he might be an antihero rather than an outright villain: he kills the thugs and "rescues" her.

That illusion is short-lived, though: Bloodsport also killed the woman he had just "saved," because she was black.

Bloodsport II came along at a dark time in the Superman titles. Following the death and return story, some of the titles seemed to embrace the grim and gritty nature of the early' 90s comics boom enthusiastically -- so much so that the week before Bloodsport's first appearance, Superman had failed to save Cat Grant's ten-year-old son Adam from being murdered. So pairing it with a murderous white supremacist was a bit on the controversial side.

The introduction of a new Bloodsport was also something that tied easily into the events of the titles at the time because white supremacist views and the ability to make weapons appear seemingly out of thin air made him an interesting foil for the newly-introduced Steel, a Black man who had spent years developing military weapons and who had been horrified when some of those high-powered guns made their way into the hands of street gangs.

Later in that first appearance, Bloodsport took a group of hostages and tried to force Superman to choose between them by using two missiles; the Man of Steel outwitted the trick, of course, but it sets up a whole story of Bloodsport chasing after Ron Troupe, a then-recent addition to the Daily Planet newsroom who was also black.

In The Adventures of Superman #526, the two Bloodsports meet for the first time -- in prison.

Being a white supremacist, the decision by Trent to take over the identity and power set of a Black man is a strange one -- and of course, it is a bit awkward when he and Trent come to the realization that they are wearing the same dress to the dance, so to speak.

The violence was going to happen anyway, so the prison tried to mitigate the damage by having it be a boxing match which could happen within a set of rules and have guards there to keep things from escalating. That is a self-evidently terrible idea, and the fight sets off a prison riot.

While Superman arrives to help out, he's managing the crowd while the main event takes place. Eventually DuBois gets the upper hand, but rather than killing Trent, he steals a Toastmaster (a massive, powerful gun designed by John Henry Irons), and tries to escape by blasting a hole in the prison gate. He is killed by prison guards, and Trent is brought back to his cell...but then burned to death by other members of the Aryan Brotherhood who were dissatisfied by his performance in the fight.

As we alluded to above, there is some question as to whether Bloodsport III is somehow DuBois or a new character altogether. There is not much information about him, since he has not been used as a solo/stand-alone villain at all as far as we can tell.

Bloodsport III first appeared immediately following Infinite Crisis, when a mostly-depowered Superman was facing a new, Intergang-backed Superman Revenge Squad. Bloodsport was only one of a number of members, including Silver Banshee, Hellgrammite, Kryptonite Man, Livewire, Puzzler, Toyman, and Riot.

The only other times Bloodsport has been seen is in a throwaway scene where Guardian stops him and Riot from trying to steal water during a disaster; and background appearances in the Salvation Run miniseries.

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During his appearance on Supergirl, the show established that DuBois did have a military record, and that after he left the service he had become a mercenary and terrorist. He was contracted by Morgan Edge to bomb the National City Waterfront -- a crime which was foiled by Supergirl, but DuBois got away. Later, he stole some Daxamite tech that was in military hands, and then tried to attack Supergirl with a submarine, but she stopped him, and sent him to jail.

The Suicide Squad will be in theaters in late 2021.