MoviesWho Is Deathstroke and Why Did Ben Affleck Tweet A Video Of Him?
Is this a Batman thing? Or a Justice League thing? Or maybe it's about The Accountant.
The most annoying thing about both superhero comics and superhero movies is probably the one thing most vital to the business models by which they are delivered to us: They are never about now, and always about what comes next. Marvel Studios has built an incredibly successful movie empire out of this, spawning the modern "cinematic universe" in which each installment is given a brief appraisal before the conversation moves to "but what does it mean for the next one?" This is fine. It is part of the appeal after all, seeing this big impossible action movie jigsaw puzzle come together across over a dozen disparate films. Y'know, like Voltron, only with more swole dudes named Chris.
However, the charm only lasts as long as you make good movies. Start making bad movies, and the whole enterprise appears suspect. Take Warner Bros., the movie studio responsible for Marvel's primary competition, the DC cinematic universe. Two movies in, and the whole affair looks pretty bleak. Yet still, the hype must continue, because hype and superheroes go hand in hand—and also because the studio is already neck-deep in Wonder Woman and Justice League for next year.
But there was a curious new wrinkle in the DC scheme this week, as whoever had the keys to Ben Affleck's Twitter account posted a video of footage of a previously unseen and unannounced villain on a dark, smokey set. The villain's named Deathstroke, and because this is related to a superhero movie, everyone wants to know what it means.
Of course, there's a simple answer: It doesn't mean anything. Not yet. But it certainly suggests a lot of things that are both hilarious and potentially disheartening, because it looks like Warner Bros. is going to continue to fixate its DC movies on the darker, grimmer side of the mythos.
As it stands now, speculation stands that Deathstroke—a DC villain created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez whose entire schtick is being The World's Greatest Assassin—will be a villain featured in either Justice League or Ben Affleck's still in-development Batman film. The former is possible because that's the movie that's actually shooting now; the second is a compelling notion because the video came from Ben Affleck's account and because The Wrap has reported a rumor that Deathstroke will be in Batman.
Either way, it's a really weird choice. The biggest argument against it is that Deathstroke has almost no compelling connection to the Justice League in any media, and that includes two well-loved television shows. Deathstroke—real name Slade Wilson, by the way—is most known for being a villain in DC's hit '80s comic The New Teen Titans, where he is a grown man with a mortal vendetta against a bunch of teens, which is actually a pretty good metaphor for "the media."
Deathstroke's rivalry with the Teen Titans is legendary stuff, the definitive Titans story of the '80s and one that was later adapted in Cartoon Network's beloved Teen Titans animated series that ran from 2003-2006. (Deathstroke isn't even his full nom-de-plume, by the way. It's DEATHSTROKE THE TERMINATOR, which is a name that's so goofy it begs to be typed in all caps, all the time.)
However, the character has also recently been associated with DC superhero The Green Arrow thanks to the CW series Arrow, where Manu Bennet portrays Slade Wilson as a former friend-turned-foe of series protagonist Oliver Queen in a grand plot spanning the show's second (and best) season.
The point: Deathstroke's connection to either the Justice League and/or Batman is tenuous at best, which means that to consider him worthwhile, we must find something interesting about the character. And honestly there isn't much? Deathstroke is a guy who picks fights with teens and rich pretty boys who are super into archery. Or, maybe we've got it all wrong. Maybe this has nothing to do with DC or Batman or Justice League, and it's just viral marketing for The Accountant.