If you don’t already know who Deathstroke (aka Slade Wilson) is, you’re going to become well aware of the character in the very near future. Maybe you recognize the character from the hit show Arrow, but even if not, Joe Manganiello has recently been cast to bring the character to life in Ben Affleck‘s upcoming solo-Batman film.
One thing is for sure, by the end of this list, you’ll know exactly why Affleck was so confident when deciding that this was the main villain he wanted to duke it out against. Not only is Deathstroke one of the most physically gifted villains in the DC universe, he’s also one of the smartest. Below you’ll learn all about the character, his backstory which is marked full of badassery and tragedy, his powers and some of his most memorable battles (including some against The Dark Knight, Wolverine and Superman).
You won’t find a more comprehensive look at the most talked about villain on the internet, so be sure to also share the list with your friends on social media to help get them excited for the big news.
15. He Went By The Terminator
Now to be fair, when you are creating a character who is supposed to be one of the strongest mercenaries in the comic book universe, having a title like “The Terminator” makes sense. So when Deathstroke was first introduced back in 1980, he was originally under the name Terminator. When he ended up receiving his own series in 1991, the name turned to Deathstroke The Terminator.
Partially due to the success of James Cameron’s The Terminator, Wilson goes primarily by Deathstroke. But if we’re being fair, he could be called damn near anything and he’d probably still be one of the most physically intimidating forces in the DC universe.
14. His Original Backstory
One of the best ways to get all the training necessary to become a world-class assassin has to be joining the military. Slade Wilson joined the armed forces at the age of 16 after lying about his age. After a stint in Korea, Slade met and fell in love with Captain Adeline Kane. Kane helped train Wilson as he mastered countless fighting styles.
Wilson was so talented that he was chosen for an experiment that enhanced his physical powers. Sadly for the U.S. Military, Wilson became a mercenary after defying orders and saving his friend Wintergreen, who had previously saved Wilson’s life. Nobody in Wilson’s life, including his wife, was informed of his military experiment.
13. How He Originally Lost His Eye
Deathstroke may do some pretty villainous things, but he’s also had himself one hell of a tragic backstory. Wilson has several children, including a son named Joseph, who was kidnapped by the criminal Jackal; who was attempting to get the name of a client who had hired Wilson to kill Jackal.
Wilson was able to take out the kidnappers, but not before his son got his throat slit. He survived, but it rendered him mute.
Following a confrontation at the hospital with his wife Adeline, she pulled out a gun and shot Wilson in the right eye. While he lived, he donned the iconic mask with half of it blacked out to indicate his lost eye.
12. His Physical Skills
If you’re going toe-to-toe with the Dark Knight, you better believe you need some physical skills at your disposal. For Wilson, he possesses enhanced strength, speed, agility, and durability. To elaborate on that last point, he’s also able to regenerate from most physical injuries. As a fun twist, recovering from his injuries sends him into an animalistic rage. He is, however, unable to recover his lost eye (an injury that he sustained prior to his healing factor) or entire missing limbs. He is also described as being as strong as 10 men and can lift up to 5 tons.
You may see him use a variety of weapons, including a power staff that has the ability to fire lethal and non-lethal energy blasts. He’s also got some pretty wicked armor, making most guns and physical blows pretty infective against him.
11. His Intellectual Skills
You know by now that you aren’t going to be able to get past many foes without also being smart. Deathstroke has the ability to use up to 90% of his brain at one time, which in effect makes him a tactical genius. This goes as far as him being able to predict an enemy’s movement, and the more he goes up against them, the stronger his perfect memory will become. His sense of timing is so perfect that he was literally able to predict where The Flash was going (and made sure his Katana was there to meet him).
10. His Battles With Batman
You aren’t going to be cast as the main antagonist against Batman on film without having some serious tussles with him in the comic book world. One of the most prominent may be in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol 2 which came out in 2012. It features Deathstroke who has been affected by a venom that completely eliminates the fear of death. As a result, he smashes into the Batplane and throws Batman from it. Thankfully Batman was smart enough to be able to grapple to a tree and break his fall, but you can imagine it was still pretty inconvenient. Especially when the last thing Deathstroke needs to become is more deadly.
The two also clashed in Deathstroke Vol 3 in 2015 which features a more intense battle after Harley Quinn tricked the two into fighting one another. In reality, Deathstroke was just hunting for his son Jericho who he thought was in Gotham City. The fight featured a moment in which Deathstroke had an opportunity to kill Batman, but a hammer from Quinn put an end to that.
9. His Daughter Gouged Her Eye Out For Him
There are definitely some serious relationship issues with Deathstroke and his children. Such as his daughter Rose, who was kept a secret from Deathstroke until she was in her teens. She is revealed to have the ability to see the future, among other assets (strength, speed, stamina, etc…) Many of which she received after Deathstroke secretly injected her with the serum that gave him his abilities. But one of her downfalls is definitely that the serum also made her suffer from psychosis.
Want to know one of the most intense parts of their relationship? When Deathstroke doubted his daughter’s willingness to work alongside him, she decides to gouge out her eye as a sign of loyalty (and also as a sign of that whole psychosis thing!).
She ends up receiving training under Nightwing, including being placed in a battle against Superman. Deathstroke gave her an eye made of Kryptonite, but after she discovered that the eye was carcinogenic and also lethal to humans, she cut off all ties with her father.
8. He Went After Batman Using Robin
If you’re going to try and get after Batman, why not try and use some of his closest allies against him? In the Batman and Robin comic series that came out in 2010, Deathstroke conspires with Talia al Ghul and the two are able to control Robin’s actions with a neural-implant that was inserted into his spine. Batman was able to outsmart Deathstroke by correctly realizing that if he used a taser on Robin, the electric shock would also impact Deathstroke’s senses.
7. How Much Butt He Kicks In Identity Crisis #3
One of the biggest stories involving Deathstroke that you may be hearing a lot about in the near future is the one from Identity Crisis #3. In the story, Dr. Light (an antagonist) is on the run and hires Deathstroke as his bodyguard. It ends up being a great move when The Flash, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Zatanna, Hawkman , The Green Arrow and The Atom all came to fight at once. But as you can tell by the heading, all it did was give Deathstroke an opportunity to kick some serious butt.
To start, he impales his katana through the chest of The Flash, predicting where he would run after a timed explosion. He chops Hawkman’s wings off, which are as you can imagine, pretty damn important. Speaking of chopping, he also cuts up the quivers of Arrow and when confronted with Green Lantern, he literally breaks his fingers and attempts to overpower the ring. It nearly works, but sadly for Deathstroke, it gave Arrow a chance to shove an arrow into his blind eye. The distraction was enough for the team to recover and put an end to the day, but not before allowing D-Stroke to show just how much behind he can kick.
6. He Was A Pirate
One of the alternate reality series that has been created was Flashpoint and it featured Deathstroke hanging out as a pirate. He and his crew go around searching for loot, and also trying to hunt down his daughter Rose who had been kidnapped. One of the more memorable moments may be his confrontation with Aquaman, which involves Deathstroke taking a trident to the chest. He would have perished if not for the help of Sonar (another supervillain).
Their ship was later attacked by a bunch of Warlords but was saved by Jenny Blitz who joined in on the search for Rose.
Sonar ends up turning on Deathstroke, but not before they were able to track down and free Rose. And as you can imagine, anyone that turns on Deathstroke probably is in for a pretty bad time; as is evident by the fact that the battle with Sonar ended with him dropping a grenade on the ship.
5. He Went Up Against Clark Kent
While Deathstroke doesn’t normally go up against Clark Kent, as you’ll read, in this instance he thought he was going after Bruce! The story Superman: American Alien featured Clark befriending a yacht full of partiers after his plane crashed in the ocean. It turns out, the yacht was a birthday party for Bruce Wayne but because Wayne never shows up, nobody raised any eyebrows when another person on the boat (Oliver Queen), addresses Clark as Bruce.
The party continues with Clark impersonating Bruce, which turns out to have dangerous consequences when his drink gets poisoned by Deathstroke, who had been paid off by Carmine Falcone to try and kill Bruce.
4. His New Origin Story
When DC decided to revamp their comic series with The New 52, it came with it slight modifications to some of the characters’ origin stories. Above you read the first iteration of his origin, but in the new version, Slade receives an operation to enhance his abilities after he is gravely injured in battle. He still enters into the war and meets Adeline, but instead of her blinding him, he is instead shot in the eye after battling some North Korean’s.
He is also led to believe that his son, Grant, was also killed in the battle. When Deathstroke was later teaming up with the Alpha Dogs, he decided to turn on all of them because he thought it was ridiculous that he needed a team to complete missions.
The takeaway from this experience was that he discovered Grant may still be alive. Slade ends up tracking down Grant, but Grant decides to attack him, leaving Slade greatly wounded.
3. His Influence On Deadpool
When Fabian Nicieza, who was the writer for Deadpool, first saw the design for the character, he was quoted as saying “This is Deathstroke from Teen Titans.”
It’s definitely easy to see where the artist Rob Liefeld got his inspiration for the character. Including the obvious visual similarities and career choice. The name Wade Wilson for Deadpool is also obviously a fun tongue-in-cheek reference to Slade Wilson. Now to be fair, Deadpool is definitely more of a wise-ass and has his own identifying characteristics (such as breaking the 4th wall), but they definitely share the same overall aesthetic.
2. His Relationship With The Teen Titans
You can’t finish a list about Deathstroke and not talk about his relationship with the Teen Titans. A superteam comprised of several members, Deathstroke first became familiar with the team when his son Grant died after receiving superhuman enhancements, but not before accepting a contract to kill/capture the Titans.
Wanting to finish his son’s work, Deathstroke took on the mission, and while he did not kill any in his first encounter, he did significantly wound Beast Boy. Proving that he is smart as well as strong, Deathstroke then had Terra (another hero) fake a fight with him in order for her to gain membership into the Titans.
Once involved, Terra disclosed all of the secret identities to Deathstroke, who used this information to attack the heroes at their weakest moments; including gassing Donna Troy at her photo studio and poisoning Changeling with tainted envelopes that were used as fan mail. This isn’t his last encounter with the Titans, but it was the incident that kicked it all off.
1. He Battled With Wolverine
When you think of the toughest superheroes out there, Wolverine is definitely going to be near the top of a lot of people’s list. So perhaps you aren’t surprised that Wolverine was able to significantly slow down Deathstroke when he tried to rip through the X-Men during a DC/Marvel Crossover in 1982.
The series The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans saw Darkseid hiring Deathstroke to try and defeat the two superteams, and in the process, Darkseid also hoped to be able to harness Dark Phoenix’s power. Deathstroke and Darkseid are unsuccessful in the end (as villains tend to be), but Deathstroke was still able to take down Colossus in the comic, so I mean he had that going for him.
It is considered by some comic experts to be one of the strongest publication crossovers of all time. There were plans to create a 2nd comic, but an editorial squabble between Marvel and DC saw the cancellation of this series, as well as a planned JLA/Avengers book.