Slade Wilson, Deathstroke, isn’t a terribly relatable guy. In the comics, the character went from lieutenant colonel to guinea pig in a secret super solider project cooked up by the United States military. Throughout the years, Deathstroke has massacred villages and killed people for money, but he retains one thing in his backstory that most comic characters (superheroes and villains alike) don’t -- a family.
Recent episodes of the CW’s Arrow have delved deeper into Slade’s background, unearthing the details of his family life. Manu Bennett, who plays the character, thinks that’s a great step towards humanizing the honor-bound villain.
“I mean, I’m lucky because of all of the Slade origin story stuff,” Bennett said at a Heroes & Villains Fest San Jose panel. “Every time we add on a little bit of a layer here and there it helps kind of draw that story out. Sometimes I’m missing Arrow and there’s been times when it's been a year and a half between getting back out there to film Oliver and the cast -- Stephen [Amell] -- but they made a really good job out of this last couple of episodes and that they humanized Slade rather than demonized the character was just such a relief for me because I’ve always been of the idea that Deathstroke from the DC Comics, Marv Wolfman’s character, has more integrity just being a crazy Mirakuru guy.”
Lately, Arrow has pulled Slade’s family into the mix, namely his son, Joe Wilson. When Slade went missing on the island of Lian Yu, Joe opted to follow in his father’s footsteps, becoming a member of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. He was soon imprisoned, though, but eventually rescued by the criminal organization called the Jackals. In time, he would become the leader of the Jackals.
“So, being able to sink myself back into the legend of Deathstroke and bring out some of the characters like his son, and a mention of his other son and a mention of his wife and whatnot, gives us now the scope to open up to potentially other parts that could be explored,” Bennett said.
Deathstroke plays a massive role in the DC Comics Universe, so there’s no telling how the character will continue to grow in Arrow. Things might get a little dicey in the near future, though. Joe Manganiello was recently introduced as the big screen incarnation of Deathstroke in Justice League, but hopefully that doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing less of Bennett.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, Arrow airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, Willa Holland and more.