Now this is a bit mysterious. Over the weekend, actor Ben Affleck tweeted a silent Twitter video without any additional information, showing a blurry shot of a man in a half-orange mask sort of wandering towards the camera.
And then the internet exploded.
You see, fans of Affleck’s Batman quickly realized that this wasn’t just any orange-masked enigma – this was clearly a first look at classic DC comics character Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson, in what appeared to be a screen test for Affleck’s upcoming solo Batman movie.
Created in 1980, Deathstroke first appeared as an enemy of young hero team the Teen Titans (seeking to avenge the death of his son, another mercenary), before becoming a foe for several other vigilantes including Green Arrow and Batman. Possessing enhanced physical and mental abilities, an accelerated healing factor and a mastery of all forms of combat, he’s known as one of the most proficient fighters in the DC Universe and a major threat.
If Affleck’s tweet turns out to be accurate, it won’t be the first time fans have seen Slade on screen. He’s popped up several times in various animated DC series and films, and just recently appeared several times in US TV series Arrow, where he was played by Manu Bennett until the character was cut from the series, sparking speculation that the mercenary could be ready to appear in one of the DC movies.
As to who could be the man behind the orange mask, well, it’s anyone’s guess – though rumours have long centred around True Blood’s Joe Manganiello, who is currently hanging out in London (where the Justice League film is being made), allowing for some secret screen tests.
For now, we’ll have to wait to find out any more details, but we’ll leave you with one interesting nugget of trivia. It’s pretty well-known that popular Marvel comics character Deadpool was originally a sort of “tribute” character to Deathstroke, from their names (Deadpool’s Wade Wilson to Deathstroke’s Slade Wilson) and mercenary careers to eye-themed costumes.
Over the years, Deadpool very much established his own identity involving bizarre gross-out humour and meta fourth wall-breaking antics, both of which made his most recent film (made by Fox outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) the surprise superhero hit of the year. But the overlaps with Deathstroke remain – and it’s hard not to wonder if DC would have chosen such an unknown villain over other more famous baddies from Batman’s Rogues Gallery if Deadpool hadn’t been such a smash.
In other words, could it be that the success of a character based on another villain mean that villain the character was based off of in the first place is riding on the character’s coat-tails to success, as the character originally did to the original villain in the first place?
And to think, people say superhero stories are too complicated…