Fans of the CW’s runaway success Arrow may have yet to see under the mask of DC Comics’ deadliest assassin, but when they do, we now know whose face they’ll see. Given the villain’s proficiency with both fists and swords, it makes sense that Spartacus star Manu Bennett would be cast as Deathstroke the Terminator.
Deathstroke’s role is certain to become larger as the second half of the season nears, and the show’s producers deciding to go with a proven physical actor, not a stuntman, hint at how much the show may delve into the complicated past between Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Slade Wilson.
The masked assassin has already made his first appearance on Arrow this season – boosting the ratings a full 30% – so it’s likely that the showrunners will want him on the show as much as possible from here on out. We don’t know if the decision to cast a proven actor as Wilson is a sign that the character’s popularity was even greater than expected, since stuntman Jeffrey C. Robinson previously played the role, but the casting seems to be good news all around.
Manu Bennett will be immediately recognizable to fans of STARZ’s swords-and-sandals epic Spartacus, playing the titular hero’s regular accomplice Crixus. With experience in hand-to-hand fight choreography, and the build needed to make a convincing Deathstroke (the villain’s first appearance was somewhat…lacking in size), Bennett seems a perfect fit.
Specifics aside, it’s hard to think of an available actor that would better fit the mold. Sure, the producers will have a challenge of making the 5’10” Bennett be physically imposing next to the 6’1″ Amell, but it wouldn’t be the first time they got a bit creative with the source material. But now that Wilson has been cast with an accomplished actor in his own right, the chances of Deathstroke remaining hidden beneath that mask are next to none.
So far, the show’s perspective hasn’t shifted very far from Oliver and his immediate family, so don’t expect to see much of Wilson’s own upbringing or journey into mercenary work. That being said, there’s still an untold story of exactly how Oliver became the man he is while stranded on that mysterious island, and how Deathstroke’s trademark mask ended up being left behind.
As the first real physical threat to Oliver seen in the show so far, there is a chance that their later encounters on the island got darker than we might have thought. First things first, though, as Bennett will have to take a backseat to Jessica De Gouw’s recently introduced Helena Bertinelli (A.K.A. The Huntress).
The female counterpart to Oliver’s vigilante persona made a promising impression, and her role will only be growing as the season progresses. So for those who fear DC’s greater catalogue of characters jumbling up the show’s plot, or are starting to feel the monster-of-the-week formula so far, all signs point to Bertinelli and Deathstroke becoming more consistent figures in the near future.
The next episode of Arrow – ‘Vendetta’ – airs Wednesday @8pm on The CW. Watch a preview for the episode below:
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