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Swamp Thing Introduces One of DC's Weirder Villains

Floronic Man

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the second episode of Swamp Thing, "Worlds Apart," streaming now on DC Universe.a

Although we've known since November that Kevin Durand, a veteran of The Strain and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is playing Jason Woodrue on Swamp Thing, there remained a question of how the Silver Age villain better known as Floronic Man would fit into the narrative. With the second episode of the DC Universe live-action series, that role begins to take shape.

Swamp Thing follows Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed), a doctor for the Centers for Disease Control who returns home to Marais, Louisiana, to investigate the cause of a mysterious swamp-borne virus that kills, and transforms, its victim. In the series premiere, she meets biologist Alec Holland (Andy Bean), who suspects a mutagen he identified in swamp water while working for wealthy businessman Avery Sunderland (Will Patton). It's a discovery for which Alec pays a steep price: He seemingly dies, only to emerge from the marshes as something that's no longer human.

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In the latest episode, Sunderland summons to Marais biogeneticist Jason Woodrue and his wife Caroline (Selena Anduze) to find out whether the accelerant he developed to better exploit the resources of the swamp might -- just might -- be responsible for the illness spreading through the town. Or, as Sunderland puts it, "So, what the fuck, Jason?"

"You told me the accelerant would make things grow faster," he says, providing the audience with a bit of exposition. "More trees to drain the water, more land to develop, more plants to develop into drugs, and cosmetics and things to monetize."

Jason denies that the accelerant could have anything to do with the "crazy green flu" gripping Marais, although neither Sunderland nor the audience believes that to be true. "Diseases emerge from swamps all of the time," the quirky scientist replies. "Dengue fever, Ebola, malaria. Living on a swamp is like living next to a gloriously diverse cesspool." Still, he promises, he'll look into the situation -- or, rather, "fix it," as Sunderland demands.

That set-up is effectively a flashing neon sign that reads "Origin Story." Introduced in 1962 as an Atom villain, Jason Woodrue was an exile from an interdimensional world who, as the Plant Master, attempted to use his advanced technology to control plant life to take over Earth. More than a decade later, he used an experimental formula that transformed him into a plant/human hybrid with bark-like skin. Calling himself Floronic Man, he fought DC heroes on his own and as a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains.

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However, that doesn't sound much like Durand's character, who appears entirely human, despite his idiosyncrasies. However, Jason Woodrue's life intersected with that of Alec Holland in 1984, during writer Alan Moore's celebrated run on Saga of the Swamp Thing. There, Avery Sunderland (who's slightly different from his TV counterpart) arranged to have Jason Woodrue released from prison to determine how Holland was transformed into the Swamp Thing. Studying the creature's apparently dead body, Jason determines Swamp Thing isn't the mutated form of Alec Holland, but is instead a mass of intelligent plant life that absorbed the scientist's memories. Jason attempted to use Swamp Thing's body to make contact with the Green, an elemental force that connects all plant life on Earth, but the experience drove him insane.

Although, sadly, Swamp Thing will end with the conclusion of its first season, it seems likely we'll see Jason Woodrue's transformation into Floronic Man, whether by accident while investigating the mutagen or in a confrontation with the creature, before all is said and done.

Now streaming on DC Universe, Swamp Thing stars Crystal Reed, Andy Bean, Derek Mears, Jennifer Beals, Henderson Wade, Will Patton, Virginia Madsen, Jeryl Prescott and Kevin Durand. The series is executive produced by James Wan, Mark Verheiden, Gary Dauberman, Michael Clear and Len Wiseman.

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