Deathstroke: The villain at the heart of the DCEU’s newest solo film
Earlier last week Warner Bros announced that Joe Manganiello would helm a Deathstroke solo film in their plans to expand their lineup of DC movies. Manganiello was previously set to star as Deathstroke in Ben Affleck’s The Batman, but now it appears Manganiello will have a bigger role to play in the DC Extended Universe.
Viewers of the Arrow-verse will recognize the masked mercenary from Manu Bennett’s portrayal of Deathstroke in the CW shows. He’s also been featured in multiple DC video games and animated outings, including the mega popular Cartoon Network show Teen Titans as the foil to various superteams. But just who is Slade Wilson – the man known as Deathstroke? The answer, unsurprisingly, lies in the pages of comic books.
Deathstroke burst onto the scene in the 1980s The New Teen Titans #2 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Originally billed as Deathstroke the Terminator – predating James Cameron’s The Terminator by four years – Slade Wilson is a mercenary and assassin who takes on a contract from the villainous group H.I.V.E (an acronym for Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination) to kill the Teen Titans after his son Grant is killed during a skirmish with the super team in which his power enhancers cause him to have a heart attack.
As it turns out the contract is originally offered to Deathstroke, though he turns H.I.V.E down as they refuse to pay him up front for his services. H.I.V.E then turns to his son to execute the contract, injecting him with the super soldier formula that would go on to have fatal consequences and giving him the code name Ravager.
Now blaming the Teen Titans for his son’s death, Deathstroke accepts the contract and attempts to kill the Teen Titans in an explosion. Although he is unsuccessful in his first attempt to kill the Teen Titans, Deathstroke returns many times to interfere with the team becoming the Teen Titans arch-enemy in the process, though his role would be expanded in the DC continuity, engaging in battles with Superman, Green Arrow, the Justice League and particularly his heated rivalry with Batman.
Deathstroke’s origins as Slade Wilson were revealed in Tales of the Teen Titans #44 as part of The Judas Contact arc where Slade lies about his age and enlists in the US Army at the age of 16. He then serves a tour in Korea and is later assigned to Camp Washington where he is promoted to the rank of Major. He then meets Captain Adeline Kane, who trains young soldiers in combat in preparation for the conflict in Vietnam. Captain Kane is in awe of Slade’s skill and his ability to adapt to combat situations, and quickly falls in love with the young Major. Within a year, Slade had mastered every available combat scenario, married Captain Kane and had Grant, his first child with Adeline, before being shipped overseas to Vietnam before his service in the military ended.
His military career now over, Slade would then volunteer for a medical experiments designed to stimulate his adrenal gland, which scientists hoped would increase his ability to withstand truth serums, but the procedure had complications and Slade fell into a coma. When he awakened though, Slade discovered that he possessed a higher brain capacity, as well as heightened strength, agility, and durability. He then had a second child with Adeline, named Joseph, and reapplied for the army but was turned down, which caused him to spiral into depression.
Now without a cause to fight for, Slade turned to big game hunting, although Adeline had suspected this was not all he was up to, and it would not take long for her fear to come to fruition as a group of mercenaries broke into the family mansion, planning to kidnap their son Joseph. Adeline would attempt to fight them off, until one of the attackers threw a grenade preventing her from saving her son.
Slade, after finding out what happened to his son, came clean with his wife revealing that he was not a mere big game hunter but one of the most deadly assassins on the planet – Deathstroke. The couple then flew to Algeria, where Slade knew The Jackal – the man responsible – would be. During the standoff between The Jackal and Deathstroke, Jackal explains that he wants information related to one of his contract’s employees or else his men would kill his son Joseph. Deathstroke instead attempts to save his son from the men, believing his super speed to be quicker than the reactions of the men, and although he is quick enough to kill The Jackal and his men, Joseph’s throat gets slashed in the melee, robbing him of his vocal chords.
Adeline now grieving over the injury of her son and wrought with rage, attempts to shoot Slade in the back of his head, and although his reflexes save his life, the bullet strikes him in the left eye, blinding him in it permanently. Slade would then adopt his iconic power suit and mask with a featureless eyeless left half, marking the area and instilling fear in his victims in the process and completing his transformation into Deathstroke the Terminator.
Image credits: DC, Joe Manganiello