The Neglected Nemeses: Deathstroke
One of the first names that pops up when asked which DC villain needs to be features in a film is Deathstroke, the rogue who has been one of the most popular for the Teen Titans. However, this assassin has also been on the side of “good” when needed. Many will tell you that he is the DC version of Deadpool, or vice-versa, and it is hard to dispute the similarities. In the long run, I think that Deathstroke is a baddie that should be taken a bit more seriously than his Marvel counterpart, as he is a man that has a purpose and nothing will get in his way. He has repeatedly landed on “Top Villain/Character” lists, including 84th greatest villain and 72nd greatest comic book characters of all time in Wizard Magazine and the 32nd greatest comic book villain of all time on IGN’s list. In his relatively short history, Slade Wilson has had quite an impact in the comic book world. His popularity has seen a bit of a spike, especially among newer readers thanks to his presence on the hit CW series Arrow, where he is portrayed quite well by Manu Bennett.
Slade Wilson was given the “gift” of enhanced physical powers during experiments performed by the US Army, attempting to create super-human soldiers. After the completion of these experiments, Slade defied direct orders by rescuing his friend Wintergreen, who had been sent on a suicide mission by a commanding officer with a grudge. Thus began Wilson’s turn to the mercenary world. Slade kept his new career hidden from his family, especially his wife, who was a military combat trainer and had played an integral part in Slade’s training. A criminal mastermind by the name of Jackal took the Wilson’s younger son Joseph hostage in an attempt to retrieve the name of the person who had hired Slade to kill him. But Slade felt that releasing this info would go against his honor code and he refused to divulge the name. In the melee that occured when Slade attacked Jackal, Joseph’s throat was cut, slicing his vocal chords, rendering him mute. After take his son to the hospital for care, Slade’s wife, Adeline, became enraged at the endangerment of her son and attempted to kill Slade. The shot she fired failed to kill him, but permanently damaged his right right. His confidence in his abilities was so great, however, that he made no qualms about his new impairment, going so far as to altering his costume to reflect the missing eye. The mask he wears is solid black and featureless, while he wears a patch over the eye when not wearing a mask.
Deathstroke the Terminator, as I mentioned earlier, has a long history with the Teen Titans, which all began with the involvement of Slade’s son, known as Ravager, who was sent on a mission to kill or capture the Titans. During the treatments of adding physical enhancements, Ravager was killed and Deathstroke opted to fill in for his son to complete the mission. His first mission was to steal the Promethiam element from S.T.A.R. Labs and sell it as “The Ultimate Weapon.” He then captured the Titans and placed them in the path of a Promethiam bomb to test the device for potential buyers. Naturally, the Titans escaped and went after Deathstroke. In the process, Wilson badly injured the Changling, creating a long-standing feud between the two.
Deathstroke later appeared in New York, holding officials hostage in order to call out the Titans and confront him. Changeling and Terra, a new ally of the Titans, were the only two available to take on Slade. In order to show her worthiness to joint the teen group, Terra knocked Changeling out and took on Deathstroke on her own. As the other Titans arrived, Slade escaped, but Terra had proven herself to be a worthy addition to the team. Later that night, it was discovered that Terra and Deathstroke had conspired to plan the fight in order for Terra to infiltrate the team. It was also revealed that Deathstroke and Terra shared an intimate relationship, despite her being only 15 years old. The artist of this particular story, George Perez, made note that this constituted statutory rape.
Despite her actions, the Teen Titans entrusted Terra with their identities, which she then passed on to Deathstroke. With this information, he systematically took out the Titans. Dick Grayson, who had recently retired his Robin costume was the last to be attacked. He narrowly escaped capture by Wilson and learned what had happened to his team mates. Upon returning to Titans Tower, he found Slade’s former wife, Adeline and their son Joseph, who now went by Jericho. She informed Grayson about Slade and Terra’s plans and how each of the Titans were captured, as well as the past of Deathstroke. Grayson assumes the identity of Nightwing and goes off to confront Deathstroke, along with Jericho. During the confrontation, Wilson recognizes Jericho to be his son and hesitates, allowing Jericho to possess his father’s body and releasing the captured Titans. Thinking Slade had betrayed her, Terra turns on her older lover and commits suicide. Slade is then taken into custody. The trial that ensued was deliberately sabotaged by Changeling so that he could kill Deathstroke by himself, believing that he was responsible for Terra turning on her former allies. Slade agreed to the confrontation, but showed up in civilian clothing, and Changeling was unable to attack a man who was defenseless. The two talked instead, with Slade revealing his past with Terra and how she was responsible for her choice. The two parted ways on peaceful terms, with Slade going of to Africa with his friend Wintergreen.
After this meeting, Deathstroke assisted the Teen Titans in several ventures, including the “Titans Hunt.” Both active and non-active members of the Titans were coming up missing in a very similar method as those that occurred in the “Judas Contract” storyline. Changeling’s step-father, an on-again-off-again member of the Doom Patrol, hired Deathstroke to find the missing members. Along with Nightwing, Slade discovers that the Wildebeast Society was behind the abductions, with its leader being the former Titan member and Wilson’s son Jericho. Come to find out Jericho was under the control of the corrupted souls of Azarath, who were using Jericho to capture the Titans to use as hosts to keep them alive. During a transfer process, the true Jericho briefly emerged and he begged his father to kill him. Wanting to end his suffering, Deathstroke did so, driving a sword into his heart. Wilson carries this burden even today.
Deathstroke has appeared in many other DC storylines, including Birds of Prey as well as several Nightwing story arcs. Wilson’s family also had a tie-in with the Blackest Night story, in which Deathstroke and his two surviving children Rose and Jericho, were forced to set aside their differences and work together to battle the Black Lantern attack. Wilson has also worked with Talia al Ghul in an attempt to kill Dick Grayson using the current Robin, Damien Wayne.
Deathstroke was also involved in an Uncanny X-Men/Teen Titans crossover, being pit against the always impressive Wolverine. The two fought a fierce battle, but came to a near standstill. Deathstroke did, however, defeat Colossus, despite the mutant’s powers. There have even been mentions of Deadpool in Deathstroke storylines….well, kind of. In Superman/Batman Annual #1, written by former Deadpool writer Joe Kelly, Deathstroke appeared from the antimatter universe having characteristics very similar to Deadpool, including the “Merc with a Mouth” attitude and a black spot over the eye on his mask.
While this character did not seem to be as skilled at fighting as Deathstroke, his healing factor seemed far more effective, with Slade becoming annoyed at how hard he was to kill. This character tries to introduce his name multiple times but is always interrupted. The most he was able to get out was “Dea-“. It could be implied that Deadpool is the Marvel counterpart of Deathstroke, who was created eleven years earlier. Marvel seemingly acknowledged this in the Cable/Deadpool series, where Deadpool sometimes answers a letters column. Deadpool claimed that he did not want to be in a Marvel/DC crossover, because people might mistake him for a certain DC character.
In the event that a Teen Titans film were to ever happen (which shouldn’t be too hard to pull off, I would think), there is really only one man to start things off right, and that is Deathstroke. He is a character with some depth and an emotional background that could translate very well onto film. He could provide the team of teens with a formidable foe that could make for some very impressive fight sequences, especially when you include the likes of Robin/Nightwing and their high level of martial arts abilities.
I have seen several fancasts that include Deathstroke and there are two or three actors that seem to be the favorites of fans, such as Stephen Lang and Ron Perlman. Perlman, coincidentally, provided the voice for the character in the Teen Titans animated series. Another name that has popped up repeatedly is Bruce Willis. With the backgroud ogf the Deathstroke character, an older actor is required, but they still need to be able to handle the action scenes that would arise in a film like this. All of the aforementioned actors could handle the role well, but there is one man who could not only handle the action, but could also add a unique element to the character. None other than Snake himself, Kurt Russell. Should the need for an actor to provide a bit of humor to the character, Russell would be able to do that with skill and timing, as well as keep with the badass-ness of the full character, much like his role of Stuntman Mike in Death Proof. Russell is a talented actor who has proven to have an impressive range when acting and his past roles have proven that.
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