The Titans just made a killer cast addition: Esai Morales will portray Deathstroke, the fan-favorite assassin and archenemy of Teen Titans leader Dick Grayson.
The Titans, the first original programming franchise for the DC Universe subscription steaming site, launched in September and finished its first season in December. The weekly show follows the superhero squad that’s led by Batman’s former sidekick, Robin, aka Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), and includes the hot-tempered alien princess Starfire (Anna Diop), the mysterious empath Raven (Teagan Croft), and the green-skinned shape-shifter Beast Boy (Ryan Potter).
That Titans line-up of characters was introduced with much fanfare in the pages of DC Comics back in 1980. The team, created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, didn’t have to wait long to find their signature antagonist: Deathstroke the Terminator was introduced in issue No. 2 of The New Teen Titans in December 1980.
The character bio from the show’s producers: “Slade Wilson is known for being DC’s deadliest assassin. While serving his country, Slade became an elite soldier before government testing enhanced his physiology to near superhuman levels, putting him on a path of darkness and revenge. To his family, Slade is a father and husband, but to the rest of the world, he is feared by many as the infamous Deathstroke; selling his services to the highest bidder as the ruthless assassin that never gives up and never misses.”
The character is well known to fans of the popular Teen Titans animated series from Cartoon Network as well as the show’s 2018 tie-in feature film Teen Titans Go! to the Movies. Deathstroke has also been portrayed by Manu Bennett in 36 episodes of The CW series Arrow while Joe Manganiello (True Blood) appeared as the assassin in the 2017 feature film Justice League but only with an uncredited cameo.
The DC Comics character represents an interesting footnote in Marvel Comics history. The character Deadpool, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the popular R-rated Fox film franchise, was created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld in 1990 as a thinly disguised version of the DC villain. Not only do the characters share similar costumes, Deadpool’s alias is Wade Wilson, which in fact rhymes with Slade Wilson.
Adding a bit more confusion for casual fans, both Deadpool and Deathstroke have similar attributes to Deadshot, a DC Comics villain introduced in the 1970s and portrayed by Will Smith on the big screen in Suicide Squad in 2016.
Morales, a Brooklyn native and graduate of New York’s High School for the Performing Arts, began his acting career in El Hermano at the Ensemble Theatre Studio and at New York’s Shakespeare Festival In The Park in The Tempest. Morales found his feature film breakthrough role as Bob Morales in Taylor Hackford’s La Bamba, the landmark 1985 biopic about Ritchie Valens.
The actor’s feature film credits include Bad Boys, Rapa Nui, Mi Familia, Fast Food Nation, Paid in Full, The Line, Atlas Shrugged: Part II, Jarhead II: Field of Fire, The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca, and Gun Hill Road, a film he executive produced and starred in. Gun Hill Road was a grand Jury Nominee at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Most recently Morales starred in Sony’s Superfly and the indie film The Wall of Mexico.
Morales’ recent television credits include Ozark (Netflix), Mozart In The Jungle(Amazon Prime), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), and Chicago PD (NBC). Morales also had notable credits over the years on shows such as NYPD Blue (ABC), Miami Vice (NBC), Fame (NBC) Law and Order: SVU (NBC), Caprica (Syfy), and Criminal Minds (CBS).
Morales is repped by Innovative Artists, LINK Entertainment, and Eric Feig Entertainment & Media Law.
The executive producers of Titans are Greg Berlanti, Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Sarah Schechter, and Greg Walker.