The latest Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League story trailer finally reveals more information about Rocksteady’s long-awaited return to the DC universe, but anyone familiar with Rocksteady’s previous Batman: Arkham games will probably walk away from that trailer with more than a few questions about exactly how Kill the Justice League‘s Deadshot fits into the Arkhamverse.
There’s a lot to break down here, but the first thing you need to know is that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is set in the same universe as the Arkham games. There’s a deeper discussion to be had about the exact ways it will fit into that universe, but the basic idea is that the major events in the Arkham games are being treated as canonical within Kill the Justice League‘s story.
That brings us to Deadshot. By the end of Arkham Knight, we’re led to believe that Deadshot (Floyd Lawton) had been arrested following the Arkham City incident. While the GCPD apparently had to let Deadshot walk at Amanda Waller’s request, they did keep some of his gadgets and weapons as evidence/souvenirs. There’s a little debate about exactly what happens next, but the general idea is that Waller had recruited Deadshot to join the Suicide Squad, which should lead naturally into the early events of Kill the Justice League.
The only problem is that the Deadshot we see in Kill the Justice League is certainly not the exact same Deadshot we see in the Arkham games. They’re both named Floyd Lawton, and they both use the Deadshot moniker, but as you can see in the comparison picture we’ve included at the top of this article, the Deadshot featured in the Arkham games (the one on the left) and the Deadshot in Kill the Justice League (the character on the right) are obviously different people.
At first, you might just think that Rocksteady decided to change Deadshot’s design, possibly because they’re converting him from a supporting villain to a leading antihero. We’ve seen it happen before in the great history of recasting/redesigning, and it often goes by without a narrative explanation.
The funny thing here, though, is that some fans believe that Rocksteady is trying to offer a narrative explanation for this character swap via this somewhat mysterious tweet:
That tweet seems to be an early, somewhat loose, attempt to address the different character designs, though there’s a bit of a debate regarding what it all means. The most popular theory at the moment is that the text of that tweet suggests that the “old” Deadshot was an imposter who the “real” Deadshot killed and replaced. Some are also arguing that the Kill the Justice League Deadshot may just be a capable assassin trying to claim the Deadshot title, but the fact that the photo above reveals (or strongly suggests) that this Deadshot’s real name is also Floyd Lawton would, at the very least, make that a much more complicated theory to argue for.
Even Kill the Justice League‘s Deadshot being portrayed as a former Arkham inmate raises questions. The assumption is that this character may have been sent to Arkham for killing the other Deadshot, but given that the fate of Arkham Asylum itself following the events of Arkham City and Arkham Knight remains debatable and given that we don’t know what the possibility of a “real” and “fake” Deadshot means for Waller’s initial recruitment of Deadshot…well, the point is that this “imposter” possibility raises a lot of questions.
So is Rocksteady trying to retcon the Arkhamverse? Well, we’ll have to wait to learn the specifics of this character swap (if we ever learn them at all), but given what Rocksteady has revealed so far, it certainly seems like they’re trying to suggest that the old Deadshot wasn’t quite who we thought he was. While I can’t seem to find any evidence in the previous games that strongly hinted at that idea, I’m curious if anyone will uncover evidence in those games that does help lay the groundwork for the “imposter” theory.
If Rocksteady had chosen (or still chooses to) change the Deadshot character model without a narrative explanation, then there certainly would have been some fans who would have found a reason to complain about that decision. However, I’d have to imagine that most people would have just assumed it was done due to some kind of internal creative preference and would have eventually moved on. By suggesting that there is a narrative reason behind that swap, though, they’re really opening the door to the possibility they could play with the Arkhamverse lore quite a bit. That’s hardly a new idea (continuity in comic book stories is often altered in far more crazy ways), but it does further complicate what was already a somewhat confusing relationship between the Arkham games and Kill the Justice League (as well as the upcoming Gotham Knights).
My best guess at this time is that this is indeed an entirely new Deadshot and that Rocksteady is softly preparing us for the distinct possibility that they’re going to treat the Arkhamverse like a loose guideline rather than a rulebook. Again, that’s hardly a new concept for comic book stories, but in this instance, it’s going to be interesting to see exactly how they explain this change and if they’re able to make it make as much sense as possible.