Monday, November 27, 2017

Real Name: Slade Wilson
First Appearance: New Teen Titans #2 (December, 1980)
Fight Club Ranking: #96

Featured Fights:
- vs X-MEN: Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans #1 (1982)
- 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)

The Justice League have finally made it to the big screen, but the single most interesting aspect of their theatrical arrival isn't the heroic assembly, or the immediate threat of New God: Steppenwolf. It's the headline grabbing post-credits meeting between Lex Luthor and Deathstroke!

We got our first glimpse of a cinematic Deathstroke more than a year ago, with speculation that he might just turn up somewhere in Justice League, before featuring in The Batman. The man beneath the two-tone mask is Joe Manganiello, and he tweeted out a great photo of himself in full costume.

So far the DC Cinematic Universe has been one big, ugly hot mess, but the innate good of the source property keeps fans hanging on. The presence of an obscure, alien Green Lantern (seen in flashback) was another allusion to the good things Warner Brothers could still put on screen, if so inclined.

Deathstroke shows up to aid Lex Luthor, whose appearance comes with a foreboding vision to form a League of their own. Unfortunately, it's still Jesse Eisenberg beneath the bald scalp.

Fortunately, Manganiello shows plenty of promise in his limited, menacing appearance. The visual alone is enough to get comics fans excited, even if cinema's Deathstroke has gone for a more off-the-shelf look. Bright flourishes of orange and a silhouette of swords at back do enough to imply the character we know and love. That Slade Wilson has retained his age and eyepatch -- more bonuses.

It's been surprising to see the DECU do so little to build its universe of characters. It may compare unfavourably to the Marvel post-credits tradition, but tacking this expansion on at the end of the film helps remove it from the quagmire of what came before.

It's surprising that it's taken this long for a superhero film to build towards a team-up of villains.

The short-lived Andrew Garfield Spider-man was heading for a collision with the Sinister Six, before that franchise was unceremoniously put out of its misery. Marvel Studios have made character conversion points a major part of their business, but emphasis on heroic ensemble has typically made villains too unconvincing to demand reprisal. Otherwise, we may've seen the likes of Red Skull, Baron Zemo, or Abomination coming together to form The Masters of Evil.

DC already have a natural antagonist team in play in the Suicide Squad, but building up a team of super-villains is one way they can finally blaze a trail Marvel hasn't already walked. The injection of name villains like Deathstroke will certainly be a welcome step forward!

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