* Spoilers Ahead *
The end credits scene of Justice League shows Lex Luthor having escaped from prison and lounging on a yacht. A seemingly familiar, silhouetted figured rides up on a smaller boat and boards the yacht. This figure is fully costumed with a mask which only features are the eyes. Sheathed on his back are two swords, framing a Y around his head.
That’s because that’s the exact same costume as your favorite foul-mouthed superhero, Deadpool.
So is it Deadpool? Is this just a different version of Deadpool like there’s a different version of The Flash from the one on TV?
Are you sure? Lex Luthor calls him Mr. Wilson.
It’s not Deadpool. This is a popular Batman adversary called Deathstroke.
Who is Deathstroke?
Deathstroke first appeared in the comic New Teen Titans back in 1980. Originally, he was called Deathstroke the Terminator, with it often being shortened to just The Terminator. However, after Arnold Schwarzenegger popularized the name with a significantly different character, the name was dropped.
Deathstroke, also called Slade Wilson, was a popular antihero in his own comics for a number of years, before being pitted against Batman and becoming a classic adversary of the Dark Knight.
Why does he look so much like Deadpool?
Deadpool first appeared in Marvel comics in 1991, a good eleven years after Deathstroke was introduced in the DC universe. There was, of course, an already existing rivalry between Marvel and DC. Deadpool was already a character to break all the rules, so Deadpool creators Rob Liefield and Fabian Nicieza chose to pattern elements of Deadpool after Deathstroke, if only to be facetious.
They even went so far as to name call him Wade Wilson, which is only slightly different from Deathstroke’s alter ego, Slade Wilson.
What is he doing in the end credits of Justice League?
DC has big plans with Deathstroke. He’s slated to be the villain in the upcoming Batman movie, as well as getting a movie of his own sometime in the future. When Lex Luthor talks to him about forming a “league of our own,” he’s not referring to the Tom Hanks, Geena Davis baseball movie. Instead, this scene serves as the preliminary stages of the Injustice League – essentially, a bunch of DC supervillains who team up to fight the Justice League.
Why does Joe Manganiello/Deathstroke look like Stephen Lang when he takes the mask off?
Yes, historically Marvel was intentionally copying DC when they created Deadpool. Honestly, that bit of history makes Deadpool that much more entertaining. So yes, DC is justified in having Deathstroke be their next big character. And yes, they’re keeping his original appearance.
But is it smart?
Not at all. Deadpool the movie was revolutionary for comic book movies, and frankly, is one of the most popular movies to come out this decade. With how much of a success the movie has been, it almost doesn’t matter that Deathstroke came first in the comic books. DC already has enough of a problem trying to make their Justice League not feel like the Avengers, and by keeping Deathstroke’s original appearance, they’re just digging their hole even deeper.
I know all you hardcore DC fans are disagreeing with me. But the hard truth is, most people haven’t read the comics, but nearly everyone has been impacted by the cultural icon that Deadpool has become. Yes, Deathstroke is a significant member of the DC universe and always has been, but Marvel has rudely (and rather brilliantly) spoiled any future success he might have with Deadpool.
If Deathstroke was going to work, DC needed to change his appearance enough so that he doesn’t look like Deadpool. They didn’t, and we have, yet again, another epic fail from DC.
Be sure to read my spoiler-free review of Justice League! Just click on the image below!