Deathstroke (a.k.a. Slade Wilson) has an extensive history in the world of DC Comics, stretching back to 1980 when he first appeared in the pages of The New Teen Titans #2 and began his rise to infamy. The daunting metahuman adversary has long been a fan favorite in the DC universe, as his superhuman speed and lethal tactics make him the perfect assassin to take on the might and cunning of heroes like Batman and Green Arrow. Although already established within the CW’s so-called Arrowverse, Wilson was supposedly on his way into DC’s Extended Universe for a Suicide Squad pop-in – one that never happened.
As the first Justice League movie rolls on in London, news arrived via Ben Affleck’s Twitter account that Deathstroke would be crashing the team’s first party. Although the announcement wasn’t accompanied by any casting news, rumors are still swirling around Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike XXL) taking up the role. Actor-based curiosities aside, the real question is how does Deathstroke fit into Justice League – and whose side will he be on?
The Villain: Is Deathstroke Working with Steppenwolf?
An old fiend of the family, Deathstroke’s opposition to the Justice League wouldn’t take much coaxing, especially if he’s preparing for his role as Batman’s main antagonist. At the same time, Slade Wilson has no history of working alongside the Apokoliptian general or his second-in-command in the comics.* In addition, his loyalty coda wouldn’t necessarily allow him to ally with an interplanetary menace seeking world domination. His four-color history has made it clear that Deathstroke has his price. A Steppenwolf collaboration even has a tiny bit of precedent, at least in the TV realm.
In the final season of the Superman prequel series Smallville, the US Army attempted to enact something similar to the MCU’s Sokovia Accords on its heroes. Called the Vigilante Registration Act, the anti-superhero legislation was spearheaded by a certain Lieutenant General by the name of Slade Wilson. It’s later determined that Slade was acting under the influence of a certain alien known as Darkseid. Although Snyder and Co. probably won’t be cribbing any plot points from the Superman spinoff, the story could provide some inspiration for the mercenary’s entry into the DCEU.
Still, as the godlike leaders of the parademon hordes, Darkseid and his right-hand man don’t really have much need for hired assassins. Human adversaries like Lex Luthor, on the other hand, even operating under the influence of the Apokoliptians, could hire Deathstroke to disrupt the newly created Justice League. The merc has collaborated with Luthor in the past, joining him in the Secret Society of Super Villains during “Infinite Crisis.” If so, the metahuman hitman could make life difficult for the DCEU crew. Of course, it’s also possible Mr. Wilson could take up arms against the League for an entirely different reason (more on that later).
*Footnote: The only other time Darkseid and Deathstroke worked together is when the New God hired the Terminator to take out the Teen Titans and the X-Men. Since that story was very non-canon, and less likely to happen than Wolverine joining the Avengers, it won’t likely figure into the equation whatsoever.