Make no mistake, DC Comics fans: the shared movie universe set to be launched by Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to get interesting – and fast. After DC’s three heaviest hitters duke it out onscreen, it will be director David Ayer’s Suicide Squad taking the next step forward, introducing some of the most lasting DC villains in an ensemble adventure (minus Tom Hardy it seems).
Now that the final roster of villains has been revealed, there’s a good chance even seasoned comic fans may have some questions. We’ve been arguing for some time that the Squad may be just what DC’s movie universe needs, but there’s no denying that the world-building nature of the movie means even the lesser-known cast members could re-appear once their freedom is earned.
To prepare fans for just such an event, we’ve previously outlined exactly why Jai Courtney’s ‘Boomerang’ is a character worth adapting. Next up: the better-known – but widely misunderstood – assassin, ‘Deadshot.’
5. The Origin
As deadly as a man named ‘Deadshot’ (Floyd Lawton) may sound, he certainly didn’t begin his run in the pages of DC Comics quite so… intimidating. Arriving on the scene in Gotham sporting tails and a top hat, Lawton began to fight crime just as Batman had, taking down criminals with his signature pistols. He never shot to kill, and he never missed.
The parallels to Bruce Wayne don’t stop there: born into a wealthy family and idolizing his older brother Edward, Floyd’s life took a tragic turn when the pair set out to save their mother from their abusive father, once and for all. As Edward traded blows with the old man, Floyd sighted their target through his hunting rifle. But the crack of a tree limb sent his shot awry, killing Edward – Floyd’s hero – instantly.
From that point on, Floyd sought to never miss a single shot, and adopted a crusade in keeping with Edward’s memory. But a hero Floyd was not, and a desire to fight crime soon gave way to a need to rule the criminal underworld of Gotham – landing him a one-way trip to prison, courtesy of the Batman.
When he returned to Gotham he did so with new resolve, a new costume, and a lust for revenge against Batman. Their fight would go poorly when Deadshot found he was unable (or unwilling) to take the kill shot. This struggle would continue for years until Lawton realized that his skills would be put to better use as a hired assassin. Predictably, Batman would thwart those attempts just as easily, sending Lawton to prison on numerous occasions.
While only a minor villain, Deadshot’s design and skills made him a lock for writer John Ostrander’s Task Force X (a.k.a. “Suicide Squad”). With few flaws or weaknesses in combat – and even fewer reasons to live – Deadshot took to the Squad’s missions with vigor. He enjoyed them so much, in fact, that he passed up the shortened sentence earned through success, taking up residence in in Belle Reve Prison (the Squad’s home base) and taking missions – for the right price.
4. The Update
It was in the pages of the “Suicide Squad” and its direct spinoffs that a more modern, compelling Deadshot took shape. Stories that found Lawton’s son kidnapped – leading him to murder every one of the gangsters responsible – showed his still waters ran deeper than expected. When that son was brutally abused and killed by the pedophile holding him (whom Floyd executed), and the mastermind was revealed to be his own mother (whom Floyd paralyzed), it was clear the assassin could go to darker places than most DC characters.
Over time, Floyd’s ‘death wish’ and the lasting trauma of killing his own brother were also refined. Seeing Squad leader Rick Flagg as a surrogate brother (and even Waller as a mother figure), Lawton still took missions that seemed most likely to get him killed. Put quite simply: he was looking for a chance to die (awakening in hospital after dangerous missions with a gruff “…damn.”).
Eventually, that willingness to die – and undeniable attachment to some of the people around him – made Lawton into one of the more compelling of DC’s assassins. Keeping to a contract no matter the cost, with little thought towards vengeance, anger, betrayal or sentimentality makes it hard to call him a ‘villain’ in all situations. And no surprise, he has become the de facto leader of the modern Suicide Squad.
When DC’s company-wide New 52 reboot launched a new take on the Squad, it was no surprise to see Deadshot at its center. He has now been re-imagined as a young boy whose family was accidentally killed by a group of criminals; criminals Floyd would track down and kill with a single bullet (his continued aversion to wasteful violence or death obviously intact).
The modern version of Lawton has appeared numerous times in DC’s animated properties – including the recent Batman: Assault on Arkham – and was adapted into live-action on The CW’s Arrow. He’s a killer with a code, taking on jobs and sending almost all of his profits to his daughter Zoe (and her mother). A complicated man, if there ever was one in the DC Comics roster.
He may find himself surrounded by the mentally imbalanced or homicidal, but we guarantee Deadshot has even less patience for their antics than the audience.
3. The Action
The appeal of a highly-trained assassin who never misses a shot – be it from a gun, bow, or anything else – equipped with wrist-mounted machine-guns should be obvious to any blockbuster fan. Since this is a comic book character we’re talking about, those guns are able to fire a range of ammunition, from incendiary to armor-piercing and even non-lethal rounds (whenever Boomerang gets out of hand).
With a specialized suit of armor that renders him nearly impervious to most attacks, and a helmet that heightens his already honed senses to superhuman levels, Deadshot wouldn’t actually need to be particularly skilled at hand-to-hand combat to maintain an edge on his competition. Luckily, he’s as deadly with his fists as he is with a paperclip (read: very deadly).
According to the New 52 origin story, Lawton acquired these skills from both the US Marine Corps and the League of Assassins (Ra’s al Ghul’s organization of deadly operatives). In other words, a big screen Deadshot would be about as deadly and flawless in his mastery of combat as any action hero Hollywood has yet created. He may have a weakness when it comes to his mindset, but his skillset is second to none.
It’s hard to craft a compelling fight sequence when a character is all but invincible, however. That means that Deadshot may be technically capable of ending a battle with a handful of bullets, but fans shouldn’t expect the action to play out that way. In reality, an assassin wouldn’t need to be all that invincible to be an asset to Amanda Waller – assuming he has virtually nothing to lose.
2. The Actor
The early frontrunners rumored for Suicide Squad took fans largely by surprise, with Will Smith one of the more stunning names mentioned. Not only has the actor been noticeably absent from just about any superhero movie talk to this point, but the skepticism that he would appear as merely one player in an ensemble cast was widespread. That’s not a criticism of Smith himself – he’s one of the most profitable leading men Hollywood has ever seen – but his explanation for passing on the starring role in Django Unchained certainly backed up the idea that he pursued leading roles, or nothing.
Could his casting in Suicide Squad be a hint that his take on Deadshot will be given a starring role? Possibly. As we’ve noted above, Deadshot emerges as the leader of the team in most incarnations. But it’s equally possible that Smith may have changed his perspective on leading the charge; having recently worked with co-star Margot Robbie on Focus, and apparently pushing for WB to sign Viola Davis for Amanda Waller.
All thing considered, Smith’s mastery of playing imposing, charismatic characters without actually having to say very much is a major asset for a character like Deadshot. Not only will his face be covered while in the field (although the art in this article alone shows the filmmakers have some wiggle room), he’ll be sharing the screen with extroverted characters like Boomerang, Harley Quinn, and of course, Jared Leto’s Joker.
Smith’s Deadshot may prove to be the film’s biggest question mark; take the character one direction, and he’s a man of few words who leads by example. Taken another, and he could play as central a role in Suicide Squad as Brad Pitt did in David Ayer’s Fury. What we do know is this: there’s no better time than the present for Smith to turn in an acclaimed, high-profile blockbuster performance (we’re looking at you, After Earth).
1. What Comes Next?
When word of Suicide Squad surfaced years ago, it seemed a clever way of introducing new villains to WB’s movie universe, gauging audience reaction, and lifting the most successful into larger roles in standalone franchises. But now that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor could also appear, it seems the studio is looking to move successful villains into the series as well.
It’s a safe bet that the film isn’t a one-time deal; there may have only been one Suicide Squad film announced as part of WB’s official slate, but we also know that solo Batman and Superman films were left out of the announcement. If the film’s high-profile cast is intended to remain attached for sequels, then odds are very strong that Deadshot could remain on board as the face of the franchise.
Of course, that’s not the only purpose he could serve.
The most obvious plan post-Squad would be to bring the classic Batman villain into a Batman story. While that’s possible, we would cross our fingers that a successful spin on Floyd Lawton – both in and out of the mask – could pave the way for yet another ensemble film: Secret Six. The comic team’s most infamous adventure is tailor-made for a film adaptation – especially now that Suicide Squad clearly won’t be the smaller-scale, quirky action film fans first assumed.
Calling upon the likes of Deadshot, Bane, and Catman – yes, Catman – the team takes on a job to engineer a prison escape and escort a target across the United States. But when a $20 million bounty is placed on each of their heads, a who’s-who of DC Comics mercenaries come out of the woodwork to cash in. With friendships and personality flaws that make the Guardians of the Galaxy seem like one big happy family, the story could simply be adapted into a follow-up Suicide Squad film, if need be.
If Smith’s Deadshot ends up anchoring the series, spinning off into Batman films, or appearing all across the DC movie universe (as seems to be the plan for Amanda Waller), his potential truly is as great as David Ayer and WB wish it to be. What shared movie universe couldn’t do with one more infamous assassin?
Those are the essential facts for any casual comic book movie fan to get a sense of what to expect from Will Smith’s ‘Deadshot ‘in Suicide Squad – and realize that some of the adaptations they’ve seen before missed the core of the character. Have we piqued your curiosity at all, or do you still have your doubts that the character can work on the big screen, even under Ayer’s supervision? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Below you’ll find more coverage of Suicide Squad – CLICK any LINK for more info on that topic.
- Suicide Squad Loses Tom Hardy; Jake Gyllenhaal To Replace?
- Suicide Squad Director Says the Movie Will be ‘Dirty Dozen’ with Supervillains
- Viola Davis is ‘Fascinated, Excited’ To Play Suicide Squad‘s Amanda Waller
- 5 Reasons Why Suicide Squad Could Be a Great DC Comics Movie
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.