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Why The Batman Movie Should Keep Deathstroke As Its Villain

For nearly a full year, DC fans have been expecting The Batman to feature Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello as main antagonist Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke. But the Caped Crusader's new solo movie has gone through a lot of changes since the start of 2017, namely with War for the Planet of the Apes' Matt Reeves taking over as both the director and writer. Reeves then confirmed last month that he's starting from scratch with The Batman's story, and while Manganiello has been informed about what the situation with Deathstroke is, he can't reveal whether or not the character is appearing in Reeves' new story.

Since The Batman hasn't been scheduled, it's unclear when we'll find out if Deathstroke will remain the movie's villain. In the meantime, we've compiled the top reasons why it would be wise to keep Slade Wilson in his current position. Starting off, let's look at how he hasn't received nearly as much attention as a Batman opponent compared to other baddies.

Deathstroke comics

He Hasn't Been Used In A Theatrical Movie Yet

Batman has the biggest rogues gallery of the DC Comics superheroes, and certainly one as large as Spider-Man's, if not larger. With eight live action movies (nine if you count Suicide Squad, which had Batman in it, but wasn't focused on him), a significant number of the Caped Crusader's enemies have been adapted for the big screen; some of them more than once, like Joker, Catwoman and Bane. Deathstroke, however, is one of the few who hasn't gotten his due yet. Slade Wilson has been played on live action TV twice in the last decade: by Michael Hogan on Smallville and by Manu Bennett on Arrow, with the latter earning praise for his performance.

Keeping Deathstroke into The Batman is the next best step for boosting his popularity, and while we expect to see new versions of Batman villains who've already appeared in movies, the DCEU needs to kick off this era of the Dark Knight's standalone adventures with a conflict that isn't familiar to moviegoers who don't read the comics. Batman Begins did that for the Christoper Nolan era with Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul, and Deathstroke can kick off Matt Reeves' tenure with a bang by spotlighting Deathstroke and giving audiences something new.

Deathstroke fighting Batman in Arkham Origins

He's One Of Batman's Best Physical Matches

Batman is one of the world's greatest "normal" physical specimens, but Deathstroke is anything but normal. Slade Wilson was already a proficient fighter when he was in the military, but thanks to being injected by an experimental serum, he gained abilities like enhanced strength, boosted speed, quicker reflexes and being able to recover from injuries more quickly (though that latter ability has its limits, as evidenced by Slade's eye not healing). Batman's enemies have certainly overwhelmed him on numerous occasions, but Deathstroke is one of the few who can match the hero in hand-to-hand combat.

The Dark Knight Rises put Batman through arguably his toughest physical challenge in the movies through his battle with Bane through his fights with Bane, but The Batman can take that to the next level. Picture the warehouse scene in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, only this time Batman's opponent can match his moves with ease.

The Penguin comics

He Can Be Flexibly Paired With Other Antagonists

Unlike most of Batman's enemies, Deathstroke doesn't pull of heists, murder civilians for the hell of it or pick fights with Batman because he hates him. Slade is a mercenary, so money is the bottom line. If he gets paid to kill someone, he'll finish the job unless either someone neutralizes him (which is extremely difficult to do) or he's offered more money, though there have been rare instances where he's walked away from killing someone for other reasons. In any case, because Deathstroke one of the world's best assassins, it would be easy enough to have him be hired by one of Gotham City's criminals to eliminate the Bat.

Many have tried to kill Batman over the years and failed, so if Deathstroke is a relatively new player, he presents the best hope yet of cutting Batman down so the city's underworld will finally be free from his interference. We would still get the main conflict between Batman and Deathstroke, but The Batman could also highlight another notable baddie as Slade's employer. I vote for either Penguin or Black Mask, as they both tread the line between colorful freak and organized crime figure nicely.

Deathstroke wielding bloodied swords

He Can Easily Be Spun Off

Even though Deathstroke has been a member of Batman's rogues gallery for decades, he's also established himself as a primary villain for other heroes, like the Teen Titans and Green Arrow. But more importantly, Deathstroke is one of the select DC villains who is so popular and interesting that he frequently leads his own adventures, such as his current comic book series in the DC Rebirth line. The DCEU slate is already packed, but a Deathstroke movie is one of the few projects that's worth squeezing in.

Sure, if the rumor of Deathstroke appearing in Justice League turns out to be true, then the DCEU could use that to set up a solo movie. But if The Batman keeps him as its main antagonist, then more time can be spent not only demonstrating what he's capable of, but showing what makes him tick and dropping hints about his background. Whenever The Batman is released, you can bet that it will have one of the highest audience turnouts of all the DCEU movies, and more people in those theater seats means more people will likely to check out a Deathstroke movie if they find him to be a compelling antagonist.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.