Deathstroke Should Be The Next Batman Movie Villain, Here’s Why

Deathstroke is a dark mirror of Batman, smart, a gifted tactician, one of the greatest fighters in the DCU, and he would be the perfect villain for The Batman 2.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Manu Bennet as Deathstroke in Arrow

One of DC’s greatest villains has never leaped from the comic page to the big screen; despite a very brief tease in Zach Snyder’s Justice League, Deathstroke deserves to be the next big Batman movie villain, and he’d be perfect for The Batman 2. An accomplished strategist, gifted fighter, and beholden to a self-serving moral code that is the antithesis of Bruce Wayne, Slade Wilson would be a dark reflection of Batman and a dramatically different type of villain. Forget the grandiose nature of The Joker or the mind games of The Riddler; Deathstroke is only concerned about getting paid and accomplishing his mission.

Originally a Teen Titans villain, Deathstroke was created by Marv Wolfman in 1980, and quickly rose in prominence following the ground-breaking storyline “The Judas Contract.” The seminal Teen Titans story featured Dick Grayson’s transformation into Nightwing and the betrayal of the team by Terra, a young metahuman secretly working with Deathstroke, making the villain evil on a level normally unseen in a DC character at that time.

Through the late 80s and early 90s, Deathstroke became more popular, gaining his own solo series that ran for 60 issues and in the highest form of praise, a Marvel comics character knock-off when Rob Liefeld created Deadpool. The groundswell of support for the character only increased over the years, especially following Identity Crisis, a controversial comic series that saw Deathstroke defeat the Justice League. How Slade beat The Flash, Green Lantern, Zatanna, The Atom, Hawkman, and The Elongated Man proves he’s the perfect Batman villain.

Slade Wilson strategized, prepared, and planned for an encounter with the Justice League, which let him win. Planted explosives allowed him to control where The Flash ran, a simple laser pointer stopped the sub-atomic Atom, and a heavy hood combined with heavy-duty handcuffs rendered Black Canary useless. Fans have talked for years about how Batman could beat anyone with enough preparation, and in a recent issue, he even survived a fall from space by planning, so how would the Caped Crusader fare against an opponent that strategizes just as well?

Robert Pattinson‘s Batman in Matt Reeves corner of the new DC Universe is an even more grounded take on the superhero than Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s Dark Knight trilogy. Imagine The Batman 2 requires Batman to keep new district attorney Harvey Dent safe from Deathstroke after the assassin accepts a contract from the remnants of Gotham’s underworld. Each sets traps for the other, the fights are even, and finally, Slade goes too far, and the new Robin stops him, setting up the Nightwing/Deathstroke rivalry.

joe manganiello deathstroke
Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke in Zach Snyder’s Justice League

That would make for a fantastic movie like The Dark Knight, but with a new twist. If Deathstroke were to be the next Batman villain, it wouldn’t be the first time the character made it to live-action; it would just be the highest-profile appearance. Manu Bennet played Deathstroke in season 2 of Arrow, and fans loved his version of the character, but after his big arc was over, the character faded away.

The most recent depiction of Deathstroke came from Esai Morales in Titans, which was more comic-accurate and included Chelsa Zhang as Rose Wilson, his estranged daughter known as Ravager. Yet it’s Zach Synder’s Justice League that could only briefly tease my pick to play Deathstroke in The Batman 2, True Blood’s Joe Manganiello. Tall and muscular, Manganiello looks like the comic character come to life, and as an avowed nerd and comic fan, his performance would be true to the sleazy, intelligent, and dark character.

Batman and Deathstroke have gone up against each other multiple times, sometimes without a clear winner, which is rare for a Batman villain, but we need to get this matchup on the big screen. The Batman 2 needs a strong villain, preferably one that has never been seen before, and Deathstroke is the best possible choice.