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.
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