After that tantalizing teaser from Ben Affleck’s Twitter account, the Internet exploded and netizens everywhere are no doubt all about the Deathstroke fever right now. While die-hard fans may be well aware of the awesomeness that is Deathstroke the Terminator, some of the more casual fans may be wondering why a grainy clip of a masked guy huffing and puffing (and looking suspiciously like Deadpool) is driving all the DC fans insane. So before the new solo Batman movie comes out, here’s everything you need to know about the one-eyed mercenary’s best moments, battles, and career highlights in the comics.
- The Deathstroke family is dysfunction defined.
Manu Bennett’s version in The CW’s Arrow may have had his own tragic backstory, but Deathstroke’s origin in the comics is actually much more horrific. Slade Wilson debuted in 1980’s New Teen Titans #2 as an unfortunate victim of your average comic book super-soldier experiment gone wrong. His superhuman strength, enhanced intelligence, and accelerated healing abilities all come at a price. After he joined the United States Army at the tender age of 16, he fell in love with Adeline Kane, who bore him two sons. One of them, Joseph, was abducted, and in an unfortunate twist of fate, had his throat slit and became a mute. Slade managed to exterminate the kidnappers, but the tragedy angered Adeline so much that she personally shot Slade right in the head, costing him his right eye—you know, hell hath no fury and stuff.
Slade’s other son, Grant, got superhuman experiments from H.I.V.E., and because fate just hates Deathstroke that much, Grant’s enhancements proved to be fatal. This caused Slade to take up his son’s contract to kill the Teen Titans on Grant’s behalf. Slade has a daughter, too, by the way. Rose Wilson is just the right kind of demented, as she effing took her own eye out just because Daddy is her all-time idol. Oh, and did we mention that Deathstroke himself injected his own daughter with various serums to enhance her hostility and drive her cray-cray? He also implanted kryptonite in her missing eye, effectively causing her cancer. That’s your average psychotic father’s love right there.
- Deathstroke manipulated a teenage girl in order to kick the crap out of the Teen Titans.
Aside from his unmentionable relationship with a minor (which we’ll just pretend never happened), Deathstroke was cunning enough to sneak a mole into the Teen Titans in order to take them down right where it hurts. That mole was in the form of Terra, whom Slade used as a double agent. With her working for him the entire time, Slade was able to take out the Titans by striking them down one by one based on their secret identities.
- Slade Wilson killed his own son.
Remember that mute boy whose throat was slit? Yes, that one. In New Titans #82-84 (1992) titled “The Jericho Gambit”, Joseph Wilson a.k.a. Jericho who had the power to possess humans was himself possessed and corrupted by the evil Souls of Azarath. As a result, Jericho reached out to his father and pleaded in a split second of sanity before Deathstroke himself plunged his sword right through his son’s body to free him from his misery. Ugly tears; ugly tears everywhere. Why is it so dusty in here?
- Deathstroke once took down the League.
In my favorite comic book of all time Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales, Slade Wilson efficiently takes out the entire Justice League in one battle, proving just how much of a threat he can be. Granted that the Big Three weren’t there, he still single-handedly defeated Atom (by waving a laser pointer at him), Zatanna (by sucker-punching her in the freakin’ liver), Hawkman (by disabling his wings), Flash (by impaling him), Black Canary (by suffocating her), Green Arrow (by slicing off all the arrows in his quiver), and even Kyle Rayner. Of course, right before he could fully disable the Green Lantern, Green Arrow unceremoniously shoved an arrow into his empty eye socket, making Slade go ballistic and lose his cool. This is where all the bad blood between Slade and Ollie began.
- At the heart of it all, Deathstroke is one badass mercenary.
The beautiful thing about Deathstroke is that there are a myriad of levels to his three-dimensional character. He’s not just your basic bad guy template, nor is he a flat antihero or a boring villain. His personality is far too complex to fit into a single category, and he’s fought so many of the superheroes that he’s probably the most versatile villain in DC Comics. Still, especially in the new DC Rebirth line, Deathstroke is, when you get right down to it, a cold-blooded mercenary—and a damn good one at that. At the capable hands of writer Christopher Priest and artists Jason Paz and Carlo Pagulayan, Deathstroke’s character is given the proper justice and awesomeness he deserves, and we can’t wait to see how the DCEU will portray him in the next solo Batman film.
That said, what are you looking forward to the most? Do you think Deathstroke will go down in history as one of the best Batman villains on film and join the ranks of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Tom Hardy’s Bane? Sound off in the comments section below!