Monday, September 05, 2016

Real Name: Slade Wilson
First Appearance: New Teen Titans #2 (December, 1980)
Fight Club Ranking: #298

Featured Fights:
- vs JUSTICE LEAGUE: Identity Crisis #3 (Oct 2004)
- vs FREEDOM FIGHTERS: Infinite Crisis #1 (Dec 2005)
- vs JUSTICE LEAGUE: Justice League of America #15 (Jan 2008)

Just like that: Ben Affleck restores a sense of excited anticipation to the DC Extended Universe with a single tweet! Of course, the real star turning heads is the character featured in the short snippet of test footage -- traditional Teen Titans nemesis, and all around bad ass mercenary: Deathstroke!

The Wrap offers context, following quickly with exclusive reports Deathstroke will feature as a "main villain" in Affleck's much discussed Batman film! No word yet on whether or not that means any kind of preliminary appearance in the slate of films booked.

"The Batman" has no definitive release date -- a rarity for superhero films, these days -- but is being nursed through the writing stage by Affleck, and escalated movie overseer, Geoff Johns. Ben Affleck will also star and direct, reprising his role as The Dark Knight for at least his fourth screen appearance by the time he faces off with Deathstroke in theatres. That will quickly make him the actor to have played Batman on screen the most! Wowsers!

Affleck's debut as a burly, Miller-esque Batman (with slightly homicidal tendencies) was one of the few lauded elements of Zack Snyder's bloated blockbuster - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He followed that picture's March madness with a couple of cameos in August's Suicide Squad, which introduced a controversial new take on The Joker, and canonized plans for the 2017 live-action film debut of the Justice League. Affleck is front-and-centre there, as well, personally greeting film press during a presentation of footage transparently designed to change the narrative surrounding Snyder's grim directorial style. A Comic-Con pseudo trailer really failed to convince, but excited some.

Excitement surrounding a big screen arrival for Deathstroke is a testament to the power of the lowest common denominator. Warner Brothers won't have an unlimited supply of resets, but the cache built up by decades of DC Comics, as well as mainstream cross-media exposure through animation, video games, and television, has cultivated a fundamental interest in IP that will keep them in the game while they search for cinematic identity. Deathstroke's credible, broad appeal could be the bridge between those who accepted or enjoyed WB's morose 2016 superhero movie slate - and those who could not.

He may've begun his career harassing kids in Teen Titans comics (and cartoons), but the last decade of print has produced memorable run-ins with Batman, Superman, The Justice League, and perhaps most effectively - Green Arrow! The latter became something of a contemporary arch-nemesis, understood by the masses thanks to appearances on TV's ridiculous, but somehow beloved, Arrow.

Deathstroke arrives from the comics with a reputation as a cold, calculating, competent killer with a complex moral code, and the skills to trouble DC's best! In terms of the villains we've seen in Batman movies before, he's somewhere between Ra's al Ghul and Bane, without the lofty philosophy that fuelled Christopher Nolans' work. Deathstroke's militant aggression could prove a refreshing change of pace for the Batman movies, introducing a new type of threat in a consistent type of manner.

With powers that revolve around being super-humanly good with guns, swords, and martial arts; Deathstroke exists within the perfectly absurd pseudo-reality that mainstream cinema has been hooked on since Nolan. TV has already repurposed the character as a slightly silly, unstoppably butch Terminator clad in two-tone orange helmet. The movies' test footage shows similar appropriation of the classic George Perez costume, outfitting the traditionally chain-mailed villain in more modern, off-the-shelf body armor. Flourishes of orange show at least an interest in establishing visual identity consistent with the comics and beyond generic thugs. We like to see that sort of thing.

While we know Deathstroke will feature in a Batman movie -- we don't know if we'll be seeing him sooner, or who will wear the helmet.

The WB/DC 2017 schedule has Wonder Woman hacking her way through World War 1 in June, before Justice League gathers the heroes in November. The latter seems the more likely film debut destination, but all rumors are focused on Steppenwulf: slightly obscure familial minion of Darkseid. With a presumed resurrection for Superman somewhere in there, and a gathering of the league -- including formal introductions for Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg -- there doesn't seem to be much room for anything else substantial. Never say never, though.

With any luck, you will be able to expect some long overdue love for Deathstroke here on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths! As you may have noticed perusing past feature fights at the top of this post, "The Terminator" has been sorely absent from our spotlight on superhero smackdown! Something I look forward to correcting! If you look forward to it too, be sure to tide yourself over by checking out past battles in the Issue Index Archive! Tell a friend!

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