If you haven't seen Justice League yet, turn back now, because here be spoilers for the new DC film. Superhero fans who stayed through the end of Justice League were treated to a cameo from Deathstroke, a character who could become an important part of the future of the DC film universe. Who is Deathstroke? He's the one guy that the Justice League doesn't want on their bad side, and since he seems to be working with Lex Luthor, they might just be in trouble.
Deathstroke made his DCU debut in an end credits scene where he's seen with Luthor, who recently escaped from prison. When Deathstroke asks Luthor what it is that he wants exactly, the Superman villain responds, "To put it plainly. Shouldn't we have a league of our own?"
Luthor's statement likely made fans who are familiar with the DC comics gasp. The implication is that the Injustice League is coming. The warped mirror version of the Justice League is comprised of notable villains including Luthor, Catwoman, The Joker, Penguin, Harley Quinn, Reverse Flash, and Scarecrow. Think the Suicide Squad with zero good intentions.
In the comics, Deathstroke was introduced as a villain for the Teen Titans to face, but his strength, extensive military experience, and tactical brilliance all make him a formidable foe for any hero. Deathstroke was experimented on, and the serum he was injected with gave him super abilities of his own, and allowed him to use 90 percent of his brain. He's also notable for being motivated by money and his own self-interests, making him a wildcard character who is rarely guided by any sort of moral compass.
True Blood star Joe Manganiello has been cast as Deathstroke, a.k.a. Slade Wilson. The Justice League cameo marks his first appearance in the DCU, and it's unlikely to be his last. If all goes to plan, Manganiello could end up being a major player in the DCU, and the possibility of his mercenary character starring in a solo film is not out of the question. In many ways, Slade Wilson is similar to Marvel's Deadpool. The character doesn't share Deadpool's sense of humor, but they're both mercenary antiheroes who straddle the line between good and evil.
According to comicbook.com, Deathstroke was set to be the main villain in the next Batman movie, but the film is currently in a state of flux after Ben Affleck bowed out of his role director. Matt Reeves has stepped in to direct The Batman in Affleck's place, and details about his vision for the film are scarce. While Manganiello was officially cast in Affleck's version of The Batman, Reeves is reportedly starting over with his own plans. Whether or not they include Deathstroke remains to be seen.
One thing is certain, Deathstroke is exactly the kind of character that the DCU needs moving forward. His moral ambiguity is a bonus that allows him to play off of the heroes and villains as he sees fit. Seeing an Injustice League form would be cool, as would seeing Batman face off with a character who shares so many of his personality traits, but there's also no doubt that Deathstroke could carry his own film, given the chance.
Marvel has found great success in putting the focus on smaller profile comic book characters, while DC has struggled to keep their heavy-hitters interesting. Aside from Wonder Woman, the WB's recent superhero movies haven't been met with much critical acclaim. With his dark backstory and complexity, Deathstroke could put the studio back on track.
Fans could be waiting a while for confirmation on when they will see Deathstroke next, but whether he goes on a solo adventure or ends up menacing Batman, the character's time in the DCU is likely just beginning.