You've probably heard the news by now that a pretty huge DC Universe character was recently confirmed as the Big Bad for Ben Affleck's upcoming solo The Batman movie, as part of the DC Extended Universe. It is of course Deathstroke/Slade Wilson, arch-nemesis of the Teen Titans and one of the world's deadliest mercenaries.
Test footage of the formidable DC villain was released via Ben Affleck's official Facebook page last week and set the internet alight, making us even more confident that The Batman could be the movie to set the DCEU right with critics.
Deathstroke is a stellar choice for many reasons, not least of all because historically there have been parallels drawn between his character and that of Batman himself. In many ways, they're like two sides of the same coin, Deathstroke is a distorted reflection of what Batman could be without his iron morals.
This makes him an interesting choice for the DCEU, given that Affleck's Batman doesn't seem to have the strongest morals either, so how their interaction plays out could be central to forming a more solid moral base for Batman himself. Or Batman could just say "f**k it" and shoot Deathstroke in the face, the DCEU hasn't exactly proven itself to be above heavy-handedness thus far.
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From TV To Cinema
The introduction of Deathstroke also marks another character jump from the CW's DC TV shows to Warner Bros.' larger, more ambitious DCEU. While Marvel Studios has kept its shows and movies all existing in the same shared narrative universe, DC's shows and movies are very definitively kept separate.
This mirrors the blueprint of the DC Comics. While Marvel tends to keep their comic continuity more or less linear (and I use "more or less" in the loosest of terms here) DC is famous for its continuity reboots, often hinging on multiverse-wide events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint. Both Marvel and DC use the multiverse concept, but for DC it's much more prevalent and important in forming the continuity baseline. When it comes to the multiverse concept, DC is the master of that particular narrative.
So it's no surprise to see this becoming a central facet of the live-action DC Universe. The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl have already established that a multiverse exists within the "Flarrowverse" of the DC TV shows, and Tyler Hoechlin is set to join the cast of Supergirl in Season 2 as the Big Blue Schoolboy himself. So there is a version of Superman who exists within the CW Multiverse, just as there are many other characters existing there who also appear in the DCEU — Amanda Waller, Flash, Harley Quinn, Katana and Deadshot, just to name a few.
Will We See Deathstroke In Arrow Again?
Deathstroke was one of the primary antagonists of the first two seasons of Arrow, portrayed by Manu Bennett. Season 2 in particular, as he *spoilers* was the architect of the death of Thea and Oliver Queen's mother Moira, and the fall of Queen Consolidated.
At the conclusion of Season 2, Deathstroke is defeated by Oliver and locked away in an A.R.G.U.S. prison back on the island on Lian Yu where they first met. Deathstroke popped up again for an episode during Season 3 — "The Return" — where he fought Oliver and Thea on the island, but ended up locked away again at the conclusion.
He hasn't been seen since, but given the history between Slade Wilson and Oliver Queen both in Arrow and in the DC comics, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him returning at some point.
Arrow star Stephen Amell certainly seems to think so, as he responded to a question asked at this past weekend's Salt Lake Comic Con regarding whether or not the appearance of Deathstroke in the DCEU would nix his return to the TV shows:
"That's actually something that people bring up on a regular basis… that DC has told us you can’t have or you must get rid of [this character]. That’s not how that works. Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns – the people at Warner Bros. on the feature side, the people at Warner Bros. on the television side – are all in the business of making the best products for fans. Just because there may or may not be a Deathstroke in the DC Extended Universe doesn’t mean Manu Bennett can’t exist on our show."
And Amell's not wrong — and he should know, he's part of the show and not just some internet commentator. Logistically, it could be a different matter though. Remember what happened to the Suicide Squad?
The Suicide Squad Dilemma
You might be thinking that it makes perfect sense to see Deathstroke returning to Arrow, given how DC has built its shows upon the multiverse theory. We haven't even gotten a confirmation yet that the CW shows and the DCEU exist within the same multiverse — though they very well could.
This means that there's technically no reason whatsoever that there can't be multiple iterations of the same character running around. Look at Barry Allen, he's being played by the well loved Grant Gustin in The Flash, while his cinematic counterpart will be picked up by Ezra Miller, who first appeared in a cameo role in this year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
There's a precedent for the actions of the DCEU having repercussions for the CW shows, however. The first few seasons of Arrow also featured Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad as a side narrative related to Diggle, but their storyline was obliterated from the show to make way for the DCEU Suicide Squad property, which Warner was betting a fair amount of their chips on.
But, as Amell says, there's no reason Manu Bennett's character can’t exist on Arrow. Though the Suicide Squad branding was likely stricter due to the fact it's a major cash cow for Warner Bros., there doesn't really seem to be a reason that we wouldn't see Deathstroke as a singular character popping up again.
The difference between Deathstroke and the likes of the Suicide Squad is that Deathstroke isn't a profitable a property. Outside of the Teen Titans/Batman/Green Arrow mythos, he's not nearly as prolific a character as the likes of Harley Quinn, and so not quite as marketable and bankable.
This could be a good thing for Arrow. As he's not as important a character for Warner Bros.' branding, there's no real reason that the two separate narrative universes can't share Deathstroke. And let's be honest, Arrow could use an infusion of good old Slade Wilson right about now, after the dreariness that the show has slipped into since Season 2. Sorry Oliver, it's not us, it's you.
Do you want to see Manu Bennett's Deathstroke returning to Arrow? Have your say in the comments below!
(Source: SLCC Arrow Panel (via Ammaross Danan))