What’s next for Arrow? After that devastating season finale -- an episode which finally ended the series’ flashbacks and left us with more questions than answers -- we can throw out some ideas, but we're not certain of anything, really. But there is one thing we’d love to see a lot more of: Manu Bennet’s Deathstroke. Supposing his redemption in the season finale sticks, he’ll be a changed man -- someone who has conquered the Mirakuru and it as powerful and formidable as the Arrow ever was.
Here’s the catch though -- Manu Bennet doesn't want to settle for more screentime on Arrow. He’s not down with just being another in a long line of sidekicks and super series regulars. No, he’d prefer to star in his own show, and you know what? We'd like to see that, too. It has the potential to be amazing, a spectacularly different show, DCTV or otherwise, than any other out there.
The DC Television Universe (aka the Flarrowverse) is one of the more interesting universes we’ve ever had on television -- and that’s counting the Tommy Westphall Universe, which included practically everything. The amount of interconnectivity, the amount of crossovers and references, the way the shows feel like they’re taking place close to each other (even if they're not always on the same Earth, as in Supergirl’s case) makes the Flarrowverse incredibly interesting and ripe with potential. And now, one of its earliest inhabitants is interested in expanding his -- and the Arrowverse's -- horizons.
The universe started with a man and a bow and slowly built out from there. The first season of Arrow didn’t even have a single magical or science fiction-y thing in it. In Season 2, it began to introduce superhero tropes, but slowly, adding Barry Allen's Flash to the mix. Then magic was added as Constantine and Vixen came into play. Hawkgirl and Hawkman’s eternal, recurring lives became a central focus, as the Flarrowverse exploded outwards with DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Then Supergirl became a part of the universe, and it’s not stopping yet.
But as the Flarrowverse has expanded, it’s headed into greater and more glorious directions -- space travel, time travel, inter-dimensional exploration, paradoxes, magic and more. During all of this, however, the foundation Arrow was built upon, the street-level, realistic approach to crimefighting, has actually been neglected.
Think of the MCU. Each outing added to it -- the first phase focused on science, but then it became about outer space, and aliens, and even magic is now common place in the universe. But we didn’t get any more down to Earth stories about the MCU until the Netflix series’ launched with Daredevil’s gritty fights, Jessica Jones detective work, Luke Cage’s defense of his city, and Iron Fist’s… burning hand? Okay, let's ignore Iron Fist for now. But the point is, the MCU expanded, first in grander ways, and then it took a step back and expanded in more grounded ways.
With Bennet expressing his desire to star in a Deathstroke-led series, the Flarrowverse has a built-in opportunity to do the same. It's interesting to note, then, that Bennet, in his call for a petition, didn’t tag The CW, the show the Flarrowverse airs on, but Netflix, the place where the Defenders meet.
Much like The Defenders, Deathstroke could be removed from the rest of the Flarrowverse simply by airing it somewhere other than ABC or movie theaters. Placing it on Netflix, or even Warner Bros' incoming streaming service, the series would likely have a smaller episode count than its CW counterparts, making it perfect to debut during the now-traditional winter break, thus sating the appetite of millions of Flarrowverse fans itching to watch new content while Arrow, Flash and the rest are on hiatus.
A Deathstroke show, done properly, could be more grounded, more realistic than even Arrow in its freshman season. The show could be darker than its brethren, and and explore oft-ignored parts of the Flarrowverse, the seedier places, the cracks that the heroes overlook -- much as the Defenders' various series have for the MCU. It would thus be a different show than we see on The CW; a harder one, a darker one. And, in the course his travels, Deathstroke could meet more characters who could themselves branch off into their own shows, or movie one-shots, thus expanding the DCTV universe even more
Of course, the main reason we're interested in Bennet's proposal is that, frankly, Deathstroke is one of the most interesting and complex characters in the history of the DC Universe. He’s a villain, sort of, but also has a strong moral code. He’s as devoted as Batman to this code, but with tons more regrets. He’s a hitman for hire, who sometimes deviates from his contract. He has children, heroes and/or villains in their own right, and has numerous regrets about how he raised them.
DC’s current Deathstroke comic, scripted by acclaimed writer Christopher Priest, illustrates just how interesting and dark this character is. He’s willing to go to any extremes to do what is necessary; but unlike Oliver Queen, he doesn’t feel the need to whine about it afterward, or take a moment to get some moral handwringing out of his system. If he needs to kill someone, he'll kill someone.
But the main reason we're excited by the simple prospect of a series starring the Flarrowverse's most dangerous assassin is that Manu Bennet simply deserves his own show. The actor has been nothing short of stellar, one of the most interesting parts of the entire Flarrowverse, on every episode he's been featured in. He steals every scene he’s in because he just gets Slade Wilson, which is why we find ourelves hoping it's more of a question of "when" and "where" we see Deathstroke grace our televisions/tablets/phones rather than "if" it will happen.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, Arrow moves to Thursdays at 9pm ET/PT on The CW next fall. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.
Deathstroke, starring Manu Bennet, does not exist. Yet...