Even worse bad guys.
That’s the core of what could be an excellent movie rendition of DC’s longtime mercenary killer Deathstroke. Although the comic series might be experiencing its ups-and-downs, there’s a load of potential in the character’s previous stories and in the awareness the public has from other works. Deathstroke is emerging as a key player in TV’s Arrow, but that doesn’t mean a separate un-connected movie couldn’t work as well.
Here’s how I’d do it.
A movie about a bad guy — can it work? You can look no further than the movie The Godfather or television’s Dexter to find that out. A villainous character can work as a protagonist, with careful writing, showing the truth behind his motivations and then sometimes finding antagonist more villainous than he is. And that’s just where DC’s Deathstroke thrives.
For a feature film about Deathstroke, I’d circle around the character’s first story-arc as a solo star, “Full Cycle” from the Deathstroke, The Terminator series by Marv Wolfman and Steve Erwin. In it, Slade Wilson (Deathstroke) narrowly prevents the murder of his wife by a man masquerading as his runaway son Grant, who sometimes goes by the moniker of Ravager. This re-opens old family wounds, all the while with Deathstroke trying to track down this would-be assassin and find out the killer’s motivation.
It’s a nice bit of storytelling by Wolfman, and in a modern context it could work as a morbid version of Taken; maybe closer to the Japanese thriller Oldboy. This wouldn’t be a panel-by-panel adaptation, as I’d play up the roles of Slade’s son — both Grant and the future “Jericho,” Joshua.
For costuming, I don’t think a straight take on Deathstroke’s outfit would work in live-action. Arrow‘s solved this somewhat, but I wouldn’t leave it there; I’d consider bringing in some of the people who did the leather get-ups for the original X-men film as well.
For directing this, I’d turn to veteran director Walter Hill of 48 Hrs., Red Heat and the pilot of Deadwood. He’s currently angling for a comeback in the Sylvester Stallone film Bullet To The head, and would be an inspired choice to bring this old dog of a mercenary to the big screen.
Deathstroke / Slade Wilson – Ron Perlman: Perlman’s been a genre star from his days in Beauty & The Beast all the way to playing Hellboy and his role in Sons of Anarchy. And best of all, Perlman’s played Deathstroke before in the Teen Titans animated series. I’d love to see Warner Bros./DC Entertainment capitalize on that and put Perlman in the central role of this film with a hard R-Rating.
Adeline Kane Wilson – Sigourney Weaver: Adeline’s role in Deathstroke’ story was always interesting to me, but one I thought never properly highlighted — especially when she turned full-on villain. I’m still waiting for the New 52 era to re-examine that role, but in the meantime doing it in film with Kane being Slade’s original superior officer in the military and then becoming his wife and mother to his children would be very interesting, especially with someone like Weaver challenging Slade.
William Wintergreen – Stephen Lang: Some people might argue that Lang should play Deathstroke, but for me he can’t hold a candle to Perlman. Instead, I’d love for him to play this former SASer and mentor to Slade Wilson.
Ravager / Grant Wilson – James Badge Dale: I see alot of room for growth in Grant Wilson’s role in the Deathstroke story, and having someone as commanding as Rubicon‘s James Badge Dale take on that would be interesting. There’s a lot of story potential here, with a man trying to take over the legacy of his father a couple years before the father is ready to hand it over.
Joseph “Jericho” Wilson – Braeden Reed: This might irk some comic purists, but I’d redo Joseph Wilson as much younger — a child even — in this story. Seeing him at that age would give a humanizing part to Slade and Adeline’s world, especially if something were to happen to him by the villain in the story.
Ravager / Bill Walsh – Andy Garcia: … and for the villain, I’d bring in one of Slade Wilson’s old rivals, Bill Walsh. Walsh is the one responsible for Slade’s son Joseph being mute in the comics, but I’d re-arrange those facts and have the potential of that happening be one of the high points in this movie. I’d love to see Andy Garcia reclaim his potential in the movie industry and be a positively threatening force to the already threatening Deathstroke.