10 Things The ‘Batman’ Movie Needs To Get Right About Deathstroke

The DCEU’s solo Batman movie will feature Slade Wilson (a.k.a. Deathstroke) as the main villain. Most casual comic book fans are quite familiar with the legendary assassin already, as he’s been a staple of New Teen Titans since 1980. But if you’ve only caught glimpses of the character in TV shows and video games over the years, there might be some crucial facts you’ve missed out on that shape the character we love to hate.

Specifically, a lot of non-comic readers know of Slade exclusively through the Teen Titans animated series that debuted in 2003. Or they may have followed the character through his arc on Arrow, which appropriated him as a main villain of Green Arrow. He’s also been a consistent Batman villain, appearing in the video game, Arkham Origins, as well as the DC animated movie Son of Batman, among many others.

There are a lot of different takes on Deathstroke, just like any good DC villain. At times, he’s been a ruthless mercenary with no remorse, while some incarnations paint him with a more detailed backstory. But every incarnation gets at least one thing consistently right with the character: he’s one of the DC universe’s best assassins, if not the best. Here are some of the pivotal considerations of the character that frankly need to be considered as the DCEU attempts to do him injustice.

#10 Deathstroke’s “preparedness” rivals the Batman.


Start an argument over who Batman can defeat in the DC universe, and you may come across that fan who says a prepared Batman wins every time. Obviously, they’re pretty much right in all those cases, as having a Plan “B” for just about everything is one of Batman’s most common traits. But Bruce Wayne isn’t the only DC character known for being a good boy scout.

Deathstroke and Batman have fought on numerous occasions throughout the comics, with Deathstroke winning most of the time. His Promethium armor and weapons, along with his super-strength and reflexes, make him an incredibly dangerous foe for the Bat. Though Batman is probably better at overall martial arts.

Also, Deathstroke nearly managed to take down the Justice League single-handedly, sans the Trinity. That includes the Flash, Green Lantern, Zatanna, Black Canary, Atom, and Green Arrow, but not Superman, Wonder Woman, or Batman.

#9 Deathstroke has perfect “timing.”


When describing Deathstroke, it’s easy to get caught up in the more obvious powers he has. Yes, Slade Wilson is essentially Captain America turned up a notch, but there’s more to the character than muscle. He also has an incredibly enhanced mind.

Specifically, Deathstroke has 9x the brain capacity of a normal human, making him almost like a computer. So he’s brilliant at strategy and mind games, but there’s one other factor that sometimes gets buried. Deathstroke has a perfect sense of time. He can predict the cause and effect of his enemies and use their strengths against them. In real-time, he can do the math on what his opponent is going to do and adjust in a split second.

One of the best stories that illustrates Wilson’s “beautiful mind” is DEATHSTROKE #17-18 (pictured above) in 2011. In that run, his intellect was tested against the “unkillable” Koschei, and he had to face off against many of the Sukesada Clan’s ninja forces alone. He won.

#8 Deathstroke knows Batman’s identity, but he doesn’t care.


One of the more fascinating trademarks of Deathstroke is his code of conduct and professionalism, excluding some of his Teen Titans portrayals. Yes, things get personal from time to time (more often than not with the Teen Titans and Green Arrow). But Wilson typically sees Batman as just an obstacle or job, not someone to deconstruct with backhanded tactics.

Keep in mind that Deathstroke is one of the smartest characters in the DC universe at the moment. He figured out that Dick Grayson is Nightwing on all his own after accepting a contract to kill him. And the only reason Nightwing is still alive is because Dick Grayson outbid the other guy. Against Batman, it would make good sense for the DCEU to use this as the character’s starting point, before delving into what makes him tick.

#7 Deathstroke is fast enough to impress Superman.


OK, obviously Deathstroke is no Flash, but he did have a chance to show off his quick reflexes during a bout with Superman in 1987, pictured above. In SUPERMAN #62, the two had a brief encounter, in which Deathstroke was able to elude the man of steel for a few seconds.

We can probably expect to see some version of Deathstroke’s quick thinking and agility when facing off against Batman, who is also known for misdirection. But if Superman shows up for some reason, we can probably assume Deathstroke won’t last very long. For this reason, the solo Batman movie should be exactly that: solo.

#6 Deathstroke knows how to permanently hurt others.


The Judas Contract is probably the most important Deathstroke story ever written, as it paved the way for the character to make more appearances. This is the iconic tale that presented Deathstroke as a conniving manipulator who devastated the lives of the Teen Titans. So much so, he went on to become their definitive villain, carrying over to the popular cartoon from the early 2000s.

Yes, Teen Titans fans, this is the original Terra story, and it’s still one of the comic’s best. That’s because it didn’t shy away from allowing Deathstroke to have a lasting effect on the team, beyond defeating them with brute force. This is a great example of how Deathstroke cares more about beating his foes mentally than just knocking them out. If we’re lucky, this trait will carry over when the villain faces the Batman, a character with plenty to lose.

#5 Deathstroke’s only clear weakness is his ego.


Earlier, I mentioned how Deathstroke nearly managed to defeat the Justice League on his own. The only reason he didn’t is because of his ego and thirst for power. He managed to defeat each member quite quickly, but they overtook him when Wilson tried to take Green Lantern’s ring for himself.

For that reason, Wilson is often seen as a super villain with a lot of hubris, balanced with a specific mercenary code that guides him. This makes him one of the most unpredictable, yet interesting, antagonists in the DC universe. And the only hope Batman has when facing against him is a way to exploit the villain’s pride.

#4 Deathstroke’s arch enemy is technically Nightwing.


This shouldn’t come across as too much of a surprise. After all, the villain has a longer history with Dick Grayson than he does any other DC hero, and most of his best stories have involved the boy wonder in some capacity. This is because their relationship, as shown in the animated Teen Titans, is one that goes back and forth between adversarial and patriarchal.

Going even further, Deathstroke has a familial grudge with Nightwing, as he blames the Titans’ leader for his own son (Jericho) joining their team. And in The Secret Society of Super Villains, Dick Grayson actually trains Wilson’s daughter, Rose (a.k.a. Ravager) and turns her into a hero.

So we should hopefully see one of possibly two scenarios. Either Deathstroke has this backstory with Nightwing already before the events of the solo Batman film, or his best moments are appropriate to fit Batman instead. Either way, getting to the heart of why Deathstroke and Nightwing are compelling adversaries is a tricky, and critical, task.

#3 Deathstroke is motivated by the death of his son.


Slade Wilson’s first son, Grant, was born long before he became “Deathstroke the Terminator.” But Grant grew up to be a lonely, angry child, eventually becoming a mercenary himself in spite of not knowing his father was Deathstroke. As the first “Ravager,” Grant died in his father’s arms after a battle with the Teen Titans.

Though his death was actually orchestrated by H.I.V.E., Deathstroke blamed the Teen Titans for his son’s death. Grant returned some time later in Blackest Night as a resurrected member of the Black Lantern Corps, but also as a foe to his father and sister.

We can probably expect some of this family drama to play a part in the DCEU’s version of Deathstroke, granting that the filmmakers recognize what has previously worked for the character. As long as this movie gets out before Fox has a chance to go further into the family dynamics for Magneto, which are quite similar, Warner Bros. has a lot to work with.

#2 Deathstroke is the perfect opponent for THIS Batman.


Earlier, I alluded to how Deathstroke is essentially the “anti-Batman.” He’s just as prepared and far more lethal than the dark knight. But another caveat to add is that Deathstroke considers himself trained to kill, while Batman is merely trained to fight. The image above from City of Assassins nicely illustrates this.

This is important to bring up because it’s essentially the cornerstone of Deathstroke and Batman’s rivalry. One is more willing to go farther in a fight. The other is holding back, which makes winning impossible against someone who is so “enhanced.” If the filmmakers are smart, they’ll address how in Batman v Superman, we have seen a Batman with little restraint. He’s killed gangsters indiscriminately and in violent ways. He tried to kill Superman, obviously.

So his next logical opponent should be Deathstroke, a villain who can challenge his supposed altered course on killing. It would certainly lend more credence to the arguably off-putting aggression seen in BvS without forsaking it. This should be the world’s greatest detective versus the world’s greatest assassin.

#1 Deathstroke’s signature weapon is his energy lance.


This might seem silly, but bare with me because this is actually, weirdly crucial.

Yes, Deathstroke is quite capable with all manner of weapons, even a broadsword made of Promethium. His bare hands rarely let him down, as well. But if we’re banking on a Deathstroke that differentiates him from other live-action characters he’s similar to (as in Deadpool and Deadshot), then the energy lance is a no-brainer.

Deadpool (an intentional parody of the character) has the pistols and katana. Deadshot (in the same movie universe) has the body armor and again, pistols. To avoid confusion and unfair comparisons, Deathstroke absolutely needs his standard weapon, the energy lance. It allows him to fire energy blasts in addition to being a blunt weapon, and it’s certainly a unique fighting style we haven’t seen against the Batman already. At least not on the big screen.

Jon Negroni

Jon Negroni

I write and I know things.