Tuesday morning as I woke up to the heart crippling sound of my alarm blaring on my bedside table, it was another unwelcome reminder that the 10 minutes I allow myself to lay there before getting up, are undoubtedly the lowest point of my day. I am groggy, cranky, and especially in the colder months, have very little desire to jump out of bed (I hate winter). However, on this very same Tuesday, giving my Instagram feed the usual squinty eyed quick scroll and
Ben Affleck's video of, drum roll,, Deathstroke (I love saying it every time) walking towards the camera, which is clearly a sneak peek of some either Batman or JL footage, had me leaping out of bed. For those of you who know about Deathstroke, I don't need to sit here and convince you about the magnitude of this news. For those who don't, you're probably thinking, Who is he?
Who is DeathStroke?
Without getting too into his character Origin, Deathstroke the Terminator ( I know, COOL), born Slade Wilson, was first released as a villain for the Teen Titans in the early 80s. A one eyed mercenary, who was subjected to scientific enhancement experimentation (a prerequisite of most superheroes/villains), Deathstroke is far beyond the limitations of men both physically and mentally. A master in every form of combat, both weaponised and hand to hand (#Batman), and with a kick arse costume to boot, Deathstroke is very much the villain you wanted to dress up as at your best friends costume party.
Also, you're probably thinking, Deathstroke...Slade Wilson….not dissimilar from Marvel’s critically successful Deadpool...Wade Wilson. DC and Marvel have been stealing from each other since their inception, but, just to clear the air, DC can claim originality for this one.
Why is he, in this editor's opinion, the perfect antagonist for “The Batman”?
“You were trained to fight, I was trained to kill”. That line from Deathstroke after his first confrontation with Batman (Deadpool #8-9), with the former coming out victorious, is the perfect way to summarise the relationship between the two. There are several reasons why I believe Deathstroke is a masterstroke by Batfleck for the antagonist in his solo film, but i'll hone in on three in particular.
Firstly, Deathstroke has never been on the big screen before. With the DCU currently struggling after the critical shortcomings of Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad (read my review on that, but warning it isn't nice), the importance of Affleck's solo directed Batman film cannot be understated. What's a way to win over the audience? Originality. The DCU needs to show it is serious about patching the wounds of its previous failings, and a character that has not only beaten the Dark Knight in hand to hand combat, but has never been seen by or well known to the general public is a great way to generate hype. There are no doubt a lot of neutrals, moviegoers rather than comic book lovers, would have been put off the DCU after seeing BVS, and then even more put off after seeing Suicide Squad; therefore, to appeal to said audience again, I believe a character not as well known as Deathstroke would be an ideal candidate to attract diverse opinion.
Secondly, the nature of Batfleck’s Batman is one that is far more cruel and violent than its predecessors. As we saw in BVS, one of the few real highlights at that, was Batman absolutely crippling his opponents, from the godlike superman to the classic mindless henchman (that warehouse scene was the best scene in the film), Batfleck has given his audience a much grittier take on the Dark Knight, one that has universally been well received. To match this intensity, it would only be fitting that he faces a villain who can match his level of physicality and intellectual durability, much like Bane in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Furthemore, being an assassin by trade, expect to see Deathstroke commit a few cold blooded crimes before caped crusader begins the hunt for him. Why is this so good? Well, it will invariably allow us to see some actual detective work, what Batman's reputation was actually built on, and something that I felt was lost in BVS, and to a certain extent, haven't seen enough of on the big screen.
In addition, we are going to assume that there is going to be multiple Batman films. To make one would be unfair for the fans, and would limit the lifespan of the DCU, something that, given their current situation, they cannot afford to do. Deathstroke, as previously mentioned, albeit being a comic fan favourite, is not one of Batman's most well known, or even primary antagonists; to finish a series of films with him would be possibly too far left field, especially as I expect Batman’s final confrontation to be with the Joker. However to make him the first antagonist in a new series (lets pray trilogy) of Batman films, his presence would be both enigmatic and exciting.
For a sneak preview of what we could be getting, here's a snip from Deathstroke v Batman in Arkham Origins (console game).
Who do I think should portray DC’s greatest ever assassin?
DC’s current casting has been very much a game of hit and miss. While I feel Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Will Smith and Margot Robbie have proven to be astute in their roles, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and especially Jesse Eisenberg (he would have made an excellent Riddler) have failed the grasp the true nature of their characters personalities. For the role of Deathstroke, there are three actors that I feel could portray the role well.
One of the favorites for the role if the rumours are true, Manganiello most definitely has the look of Slade Wilson, not to mention his enormous stature that would match up well with Affleck's, more built, brawn Batman. Despite making his name as a teenage heartthrob in True Blood (awful) and my girlfriends favourite, Magic Mike, I believe this would be a great role for him to shift his career into action films, something that his physical prowess would suit well. He has the looks, the intimidation factor, but does he have the acting prowess to take on a role in the DCU around academy award winners like Affleck, Simmons and Irons? I’d like to think so.
Yes, that arsehole from Avatar that you quite simply cannot stand. That is not a discredit to him, it's actually a compliment; Lang most certainly has presence, he is a seasoned action movie veteran, who even in his later years, has maintained his physique and brings an air of determination and arrogance to his characters. As Deathstroke isn't a young villain, and in this current DCU, Batman has been around for twenty years, a more seasoned Slade could be more appropriate. Plus, he would look with the eye patch.
Here's my curveball choice, but I can back it up. First things first, Ben Affleck + Matt Damon = VICTORY (Insert Johnny drama impersonation). The dynamic duo have collaborated on numerous projects in the past, and have very much developed a Simon and Garfunkel reputation in Hollywood, something that I would love to see in the DCU. Damon has recently admitted he would be open to doing a comic book movie, on the condition that is was with his partner in crime Affleck. So there's our in, but would he be good for the role?
His chemistry with Affleck is a good start, but Damon, an actor revered for his diversity, has performed masterfully in his live action roles. If you question his fighting ability, go home, download (Soul digital does not condone the illegal downloading of films online) The Bourne Identity, come back, read this again and you’ll agree with me, that Damon can be tough if he wants to. He’s older than Manganiello, but younger than Lang, and has the high profile name to lure in the neutrals we previously discussed. Although any one of the three would be great choices, taking into account reasons mentioned, I would love to see Matt Damon as Slade Wilson.
Of course, I can assure you, in the coming months you're going to see new rumours surface, uncover things that you'll absolutely love, and others you will resent (Please don't leave us Jared Leto) about the DCU and our beloved Batman. However, if anything is certain, it's that we believe in Batfleck, and as a result, I believe in Deathstroke being the perfect catalyst for the next, epic Batman tale.