Ten years ago, Slade Wilson—aka the super-assassin called Deathstroke—made a tragic mistake and his wife and son paid a terrible price. Now, a decade later, Wilson's family is threatened once again by the murderous Jackal and the terrorists of H.IV.E. Can Deathstroke atone for the sins of the past-or will his family pay the ultimate price?
Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons is a 2020 animated web series from DC Comics starring Michael Chiklis as the titular mercenary. Other characters include his wife and son Adeline and Joseph Wilson, The Jackal, high-ranking member and leader of the global terrorist organization HIVE, Slade's old friend Wintergreen, Bronze Tiger, and Shiva. The first episode was released January 6, 2020, running for 37 minutes, before eventually getting a DVD release with the other 50 minutes, all compiled into an 87-minute movie.
This film provides examples of:
- Ace Pilot: Wintergreen proves his piloting chops more than once despite his advanced age.
- Action Girl: Quite a few, of course: Adeline, Shiva, a big woman named Bora that puts up a good fight against Slade, Rose and Jackal's daughter.
- Adaptational Badass: Jericho's Psychic Powers are expanded far beyond his usual Body Surf abilities. The Hive Queen outright compares him to a nuclear bomb, and he's key to Hive's plan.
- Adaptational Sympathy: The Jackal is still a ruthless bastard who goes after Deathstroke relentlessly but in the comics, he did it out of petty jealousy that Slade showed him up their elite military school and the belief that Slade stole Addie from him. In this incarnation, the Jackal at least has a more sympathetic Freudian Excuse for going after Deathstroke on account of Deathstroke killing his daughter in a fight.
- Adaptational Wimp: Bronze Tiger is usually portrayed as one of the three preeminent Badass Normal martial artists of the DCU, alongside Richard Dragon and Lady Shiva, and sometimes even taught Batman. Here, he gets utterly destroyed by Deathstroke, in under a minute, with a partner. He fares better against Deathstroke in their second match but still ultimately loses the fight.
- Affectionate Nickname: Adeline calls Joseph "little soldier."
- Artificial Limb: Bronze Tiger has a new cybernetic right arm after the timeskip. It's strong enough for him put up a longer fight against Deathstroke than the first time, but still gets chopped off.
- Bait-and-Switch: In Deathstroke's first job, he carves a bloody path through a South American base until he reaches the office of a general named Suarez. The target surmises the dictator he technically serves under is the one who hired Deathstroke, but then Slade shows him said dictator's severed head. He then explains in exchange for paying him for this, the general now has a chance to do better than his predecessor.Suarez: I don't understand; if Molina hired you to assassinate me, then—
Deathstroke: I'm a mercenary, not an idiot.
- Believing Their Own Lies: Adeline accuses Slade of compartmentalizing pieces of his mindset so much that he truly believes he's some sort of modern Knight in Shining Armor, protecting the world and his family from the true monsters out there.
- Big Bad: The Jackal.
- Bloodier and Gorier: This movie shows about as much blood splashing around as a Quentin Tarantino film.
- Break Them by Talking: While threatening to have Rose and Jericho cut down in front of Slade and Adeline, Jackal takes the time to tell them how Rose supposedly twisted their son with lies and false affection so he would only be loyal to her.Rose: I told him the truth! I loved Jericho!
Jackal: And what's love but another way to control people?
- Calling the Old Man Out:
- Joseph and Rose call Slade out for abandoning them, in one way or another.
- Metaphorically, Jackal positioned himself as Rose's father, and she gets time to call him out on manipulating a scared little girl to do his bidding.
- Crazy-Prepared: Jackal has taken precautions just in case Jericho or Rose would try to stab him in the back: for one, a psychic damper his engineers designed to absorb and redirect psychic powers, and for another, a good old-fashioned kidnapping plot of the US President.
- Curb Stomp Cushion: Adeline puts up a good fight against Jackal when he appears to kidnaps Joseph, but on the one hand, she's out of practice, and the other, Jackal isn't afraid to fight dirty.
- Darker and Edgier: The movie earns its R rating because of how incredibly violent it is.
- Deadpan Snarker: Wintergreen provides a few gems.Wintergreen: (clears his throat) Thank you.
Slade & Adeline: For what?
Wintergreen: For reminding me why I've chosen to remain a bachelor all these years.
- Did You Actually Believe...?: Jackal says this to Rose and Jericho after their failed attempt to take control of his mind:Jackal: Did you really think I'd unleash a weapon like you without providing myself protection?
- Disabled in the Adaptation:
- In this version, Slade was already missing his right eye when he underwent the procedure that gave him his powers. In the comics, he already had his powers when he lost it — part of the aftermath about what happened with Joey, as it sent Adeline into a murderous rage, who fired at Slade with the intent to kill him and his heightened reflexes saving him, but the shot still costing him his eye. The change is possibly due to the beefing up of Slade's Healing Factor in this story - with it amped up to Wolverine levels, it's hard to imagine a bullet in the eye taking more than a minute or two to heal.
- In the comics, Bronze Tiger still has both arms. Here, Slade slices off his right one and Ben replaces it with a cybernetic one.
- Dragon Ascendant: At first, Jackal's just a high-ranking member/face for HIVE. But after Deathstroke thinks he's killed him, he goes underground and lets the mercenary tear through the organization. Then once Slade thinks he's done, Jackal puts the pieces back together - with him in charge now.
- Dual Wielding: Slade, Bronze Tiger, and Lady Shiva all use twin weapons at times.
- Everyone Has Standards:
- Slade has a certain code of honor and repeatedly refuses to join Hive despite Jackal's pushing him.
- One of Slade's contacts is a colonel who used to be on Hive's payroll. He was fine with a few deals here and there, but Hive proved to be too much for him and he's more than happy to help Deathstroke take them down.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: For all his flaws, Slade does care about his family, which later includes Rose.
- Rose for her part truly loves her half-brother. Part of the reason she plots against Jackal is for what he did to Joseph ten years ago.
- As it turns out, Jackal decided to turn Joseph and Rose into weapons against Deathstroke because Deathstroke killed his daughter during his audition.
- After Slade finishes his call to his family, Joseph begs his mom for another bedtime story, but declines the one about the Knight in Shining Armor that he already read with Slade. This shows that he isn't on the same wavelength as his father and that book is really for the latter's pleasure.
- The only time Jackal appears agitated is when Deathstroke impales the dark-skinned woman attacking him. As her dead body is thrown to him, he takes a moment to stare down at her and later calls her "an extraordinary operative" after a little hesitation. In their final fight, Jackal angrily reveals that the woman was his own daughter.
- Good Stepmother: When Adeline learns of Rose's relation to Slade, she is sympathetic to the young woman, understanding that her ex's negligence played a part in how her life turned out. In the epilogue, Adeline has accepted Rose as family, assuring her she has a home with her and Joseph for as long as she wants.
- How We Got Here: The film begins with Deathstroke washed up on a beach, then spends the rest of its runtime showing how he got there. There's a fakeout halfway through with Slade getting riddled with bullets and tossed into the ocean, but it doesn't actually catch up to that point until the end, which reveals he survived his final battle with Jackal.
- Informed Ability: Shiva is called the world's deadliest hand-to-hand combatant by Deathstroke and claims it's true, but she never actually defeats him. Rose also manages to beat her unarmed while Shiva's wielding a sword, and even though she impales Adeline's shoulder in a fight, Rose runs her through the throat from behind.
- In the Hood: Jackal and the Hive Queen, Rose wear one.
- Noble Demon: Deathstroke claims he is this; he only kills for a right cause. To be fair, the missions he's seen completing involve beheading a corrupt dictator and freeing a group of women from what's most likely a trafficking system.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After his plan has fallen apart thanks to the collective actions of the Wilson family, Jackal furiously pummels Deathstroke across the ship they're in, shattering his helmet and generally having the upper hand.
- Not Quite Dead: Jackal survived impalement and almost getting blown up thanks to Bronze Tiger.
- And in the final scene, it's revealed Slade survived his final battle with Jackal.
- "Not So Different" Remark: Jackal makes this claim repeatedly about himself and Deathstroke.Deathstroke: You fucking monster.
Jackal: I told you years ago, Wilson: We're two of a kind.
- In terms of being father figures, both Deathstroke and Jackal seem to have this in common as well. While the narrative emphasized how awful of a father and family man Slade was, Jackal proved to be little different in the end, considering Rose and Jericho betray him for both Jericho's slashed throat and Rose accusing Jackal of manipulating and using a lost young child like herself, a common accusation leveled against Deathstroke in most of his incarnations.
- Papa Wolf:
- Slade's primary motivation throughout the film is protecting his children.
- In a darker example, Jackal has spent a long time planning to use Slade's children to destroy him in revenge for his own daughter's death.
- Psychic Link: Joseph and Rose have had one since they were very young.
- Race Lift: Much like in Titans, Wintergreen in depicted as black, though in this case, African-English.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Whenever Joseph's Psychic Powers start to consume him, his eyes flash red and he becomes much more violent and cruel.
- Retired Badass: Adeline and Wintergreen. Thanks to Deathstroke, they don't get to stay retired.
- The Reveal: The HIVE Queen is actually Rose, a daughter Slade never knew he had with Lillian and Joseph's half-sister. Joseph is also not a prisoner of HIVE, but a willing member.
- Shock and Awe: Deathstroke's swords can be charged with electricity.
- Jackal's gloves have a taser-like function, which is later upgraded to full Hand Blasts after the timeskip.
- Slashed Throat: Joseph, despite his father's best efforts.
- The Starscream: Rose and Jericho attempt to overthrow Jackal, though it's less about wanting his power and more about paying him back for Joseph's Slashed Throat. Too bad Jackal's a few steps ahead of them.
- Superpowerful Genetics: The serum that gave Slade his Super Soldier abilities also passed on some impressive power to his children. Rose has the same enhanced physical prowess her father does while Jericho possesses great psychic abilities.
- Sword and Gun: Slade regularly uses a sword and his handgun in tandem. Or separately.
- Take Over the World: Well, technically controlling the ones who already "rule" the world is HIVE's endgame.
- Team Member in the Adaptation: The movie depicts Bronze Tiger, Lady Shiva, Rose and Jericho as members of HIVE, an organization they have nothing to do with in the comics.
- Trauma Button: Hearing Deathstroke call out his name causes Joseph to flashback to the night his throat was cut. It appears to be part of the reason he prefers the moniker of "Jericho".
- Truer to the Text: Putting aside the Race Lift, Wintergreen in close to his comic counterpart in that he's an ally to Slade (unlike in Arrow, where he betrayed Slade), around the same age as him (unlike in Titans, where he's younger), and from England (unlike both series, which respectively made him Australian and American).
- What the Hell, Hero?: Adeline takes many opportunities to call out Slade for consistently screwing up his family by choosing to be Deathstroke. Joseph and Rose get in on it too.
- Would Hurt a Child: Jackal has no problems letting Joseph get his throat sliced open if Deathstroke doesn't comply.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: During the final confrontation, Jackal cruelly twists Rose's belief she loves Joseph into another form of manipulation, briefly breaking her. Slade however assures her that love does exist and that she was there more for her half-brother than Slade himself.