Overview (Spoilers):

Slade Wilson may be the most dangerous mercenary there is, but he has his weakness, family. After narrowly saving his son from the terrorist group, The Hive, the boy is left mute. And with causing such risk, Slade distances himself from those he cares about most.

Ten years later, and the past comes back to haunt Deathstroke. The Hive has resurfaced, and they have invested interest in Slade’s family. The unstoppable mercenary dives headfirst in an attempt to save his son once again. Unfortunately, after such a long time passed, Slade is naïve to where his child’s alliances lay.  

The past haunts him further when his daughter that he didn’t know existed is at the centre of The Hive’s re-emergence. Thankfully, her own alliances are not as clear as they seem.

In the end, Slade can do all he can to save his family, but there is no assurance that he can make up for his past mistakes.

 

Our Take:

Deathstroke is easily one of the most dangerous villains in the DC Universe. He may not have the flair of a Joker or the influence of Lex Luthor, but he is in those upper echelons of villainy. Slade Wilson is formidable, dangerous, and as layered and complex as a bad guy can get. In fact, it is often debated that uber-popular Marvel character was a direct rip-off of this underappreciated DC powerhouse. He is not the face of the publishing company like some of the bigger criminals that appear in nearly everything. However, when he does show up, things are guaranteed to become a little messier.

Thankfully, Deathstroke seems to be getting the recognition he deserves. He had a last-minute appearance in the 2017s Justice League blockbuster. The copycat shared universe that DC was intending after that film failed to find legs. 

However, the planned Batman film featuring Deathstroke would have been unlike any Bat-film we had seen before. 

But that didn’t stop the character from making strokes in everything else from Titans to DC Super Hero Girls.

It is as good a time as any for Slade to get the recognition he deserves with his own feature-length film.

Though, how this movie manifested is a bit strange. It was the intention of DC to release this same story as a web series and follow it up as a collection adding 15-20 minutes of story. The first episode even premiered back in January. However, that CW Seed episode was promptly followed up with nothing. Not 11 other episodes as was expected, not even the latter half of the plot they had begun. Fans have been awaiting any conclusion to the exciting story. And they have had to wait for over half of this endless year.

The wait has been long, but it also means that many of us have already seen the first half of this newly released film. Though, this dynamite conclusion may have been worth the delay.

The story dives into the mercenary’s background and family. Though it does take many liberties with the origin story compared to what we have seen before.

When it comes to superhero/villain films we have become desensitized to them changing plots around to better fit with their story. Unfortunately, this one changes a couple of key aspects to the Wilson family that don’t align with the character. For one, Jericho’s abilities are given a power boost despite already being formidable. 

But more unforgiving is that this version implies that Slade had no influence on the training of his children, specifically Rose. Though it does help to make this film that much fuller of twists and reveals.

Everything that makes Deathstroke great would be nothing without his complicated backstory. His flaws as a father and husband bring the otherwise merciless killer into balance. His desire to remedy his failures redeems the character for us; it also creates a weakness for an otherwise unstoppable force. It makes him one of the most captivating baddies in comic books. 

This film may mess around with some of the components, but it brings all of the important details into one cohesive run.

One thing this film managed that you don’t often see out of the DC Animations is that it is not overrun with superhero namedropping. Typically, it is exciting to see how many recognizable characters one movie can cram in. Though in this case, they allowed the space for Deathstroke to be the biggest hitter. Aside from the Slade family, there are just a couple of familiar villains in Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. Even the main antagonist was obscure as they come.

Another thing that you won’t see in many DC films that is painted all over Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons is blood and gore. There is fatal action in all corners of the movie including an underwater battle, and a couple mid-air free fall fights. The one theme through all of the action is graphic details. There are moments in this movie that are not for the squeamish. Even for animation, some points are over-the-top violent and hard to stomach. Though, that too is true to the character.

Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons surprises through every turn. This is not the DC movie that you would expect. Nor is the animation predictable. There is an effort to make the film stand-out and that starts with a powerful story. Kudos to the writers and filmmakers who managed to put together an amazing villain movie without one hero and not dropping Batman in for the sake of having Batman show up. It is too bad that this didn’t work out as a longer series, but they did pump out an excellent film.

 

Jesse Bereta

Jesse (Green Onion) Bereta is a chef of words cooking up freelance projects from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. You can find his humourous emprise at greenonioning.wordpress.com

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