“You called me a villain. Never thought of myself as that. I’m a mercenary. A soldier for hire.” — Slade Wilson, Deathstroke
Most of you are probably aware that Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke the Terminator), played by Joe Manganiello (6’5″,b.1976), is set to be a villain — perhaps the main one? — in The Batman. Or, at least, he was, until questions about Ben Affleck’s involvement and other issues arose, then Matt Reeves took over as director, and now it isn’t certain if Deathstroke will be in the film, after all. A few weeks ago, though, I saw an announcement that Manganiello will be starring in a Deathstroke solo film, which will be directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid). Like most DC fans, I think Manganiello is a great choice for the role, especially physique-wise. But, news of the solo movie got me thinking again of who (else) I thought might be able to take on the role. So, here ya go…
Deathstroke the Terminator
From what I can gather, Slade Wilson was roughly 30 when he was promoted to Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, got married, and was shipped off to war. (His second.) Some time after this, he volunteered for the experiment that ended up giving him powers, i.e., the ability to use up to 90% of his brain capacity, as well as near-superhuman strength, durability, and agility. After a military discharge (possibly connected to bouts of depression), he became a wealthy and famous big-game hunter. A few years after that, after mercenaries broke into their home and kidnapped their younger son, Joey, Wilson confessed to his wife that he was also Deathstroke the Terminator, “one of the world’s deadliest and most highly sought after assassins.” Wilson saved Joey, but not before the boy’s vocal cords were cut, making him mute. Wilson’s angered wife, Adeline, shot him, destroying his right eye. However, Wilson’s skills with firearms, bladed weapons, etc., was so great, as was his ego, that his occupation wasn’t even affected. In fact, he incorporated his right-eye blindness into his “Terminator” costume.
While generally working as a mercenary/assassin and even bounty hunter, Deathstroke sometimes works with superheroes, too. He often tangles with the Bat-family of heroes, various Justice Leaguers (alone or together), and most especially the (Teen) Titans. At times, he has been known to infiltrate a super-team (i.e., either himself or a double-agent) and/or foment conflict between members. He has even led the Titans for a time. His older son, Grant, was a villain called Ravager; son Joey became a hero/Titan named Jericho; and daughter Rose later took the name Ravager, her loyalties wavering between the Titans and her father. Deathstroke’s abilities and training allow him to hold his own (and sometimes temporarily defeat) much more powerful opponents, even multiple foes at once. He is cold, brutal, often lethal, yet he retains a sense of military-born honor.
Though I have seen a version of Wilson with black hair and no beard, his iconic look is silver/white hair and a goatee on his chin (no mustache). He is a tall, white man, quite muscular, with a patch over his blind right eye. (DC’s wiki page puts him at 6’4″, 225 lbs.) A later experiment gave him regenerative abilities, which also means that he ages extremely slowly. That said, I think it best to cast someone in their 40s, possibly even 50s. (Especially if we want the option of introducing one or more of his children in their teens to 20s.) He should also be at least 6’2″ and very physically fit. (Of course, anyone cast would probably need to do strength- and weapons-training.) I considered Kevin McKidd (5’11”,b.1973), but he’s too short. Alexander Skarsgård (6’4.5″,b.1976) might work for a younger version of Wilson. Except for his height, Stephen Lang (5’10.5″,b.1952) might’ve been a decent choice 20 years ago, but now he’s too old.
And that brings us to my three candidates for the role of Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke the Terminator):
Ray Stevenson‘s (6’4″,b.1964) name should sound familiar to you (and I think I’ve suggested him for another role or two), since he has played two Marvel characters — namely, Frank Castle in Punisher: War Zone (see pic) and Volstagg in all three Thor movies. He is also known for such genre fare as “Rome”, The Three Musketeers, “Dexter”, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the Divergent film series, “Black Sails”, and voice work for “Star Wars: Rebels”. He is almost outside my preferred age range but still appears to be quite fit and could likely handle the physicality of the role. He is also the exact height of the comic-book Deathstroke.
Richard Armitage (6’2.5″,b.1971) should be another familiar name, as he has had roles in “Ultimate Force”, “Robin Hood”, “MI-5”, Captain America: The First Avenger, “Strike Back”, the Hobbit trilogy, “Hannibal”, “Berlin Station”, and voice work for “Castlevania”. That’s a pretty solid genre resume, and it includes some very physical action, including shooting guns and wielding swords. Plus, we know he looks great with chin whiskers (e.g., this pic I pulled from his IMDB profile). Just shave the mustache, trim the beard down to a goatee, dye it silvery-white, and we’re good to go!
Now, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to present a third candidate but ultimately I decided that Michael Shannon (6’3″,b.1974) was too good a possibility to pass up. He did such a great job with Zod in Man of Steel, and he spent part of that movie with a gray-n-black goatee (no mustache). So, we already know he can pull off the look; on the other hand, it might be too close to Slade Wilson’s classic look, so they might need to alter it. (Maybe a full goatee?) In any case, he has been in a ton of stuff besides MoS (e.g., Tigerland, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Jonah Hex, Machine Gun Preacher, “Boardwalk Empire”, The Shape of Water) and would make a fine Deathstroke the Terminator.
Do my candidates meet your approval, dear readers?
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2017.