As Avengers: Endgame gears up for release, Marvel Studios has kept quiet regarding its upcoming film slate. According to Deadline, fans may see an unexpected character in an upcoming film: Deathlok the Demolisher.
First conceived in 1974 by Rich Buckler and Doug Moench, Deathlok is usually portrayed as a U.S. soldier who is killed and transformed against his wishes into a cyborg weapon until he finally breaks free from his programming to become a hero. Deathlok arose from the same gritty comics era that produced fellow antiheroes Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and the Punisher, and the original series depicted the character in a post-apocalyptic landscape that was later echoed by films like The Terminator and Escape From New York. The hero also inspired Megadeth’s 1992 song “Psychotron.”
As longtime Marvel devotees are quick to note, this is not the cult favorite antihero’s first dalliance with the silver screen. Back in the mid-2000s, a proposed Deathlok film made it all the way to script stage before getting lost in studio machinery, as FilmJerk reported. More recently, a version of the character appeared on the ABC television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where he has been played by J. August Richardson.
In response to the latest speculation, Richardson has campaigned on Twitter for Marvel to cast him as the movie version of the character, and even employed the hashtag #RichardsforDeathlok, to the approval of his fans.
I know there’s little precedent for the actor from TV to reprise the role on screen but I’m going to fight to keep playing him! I invested everything I had into the character and I am still emotionally connected to him. I really want to play the part!!! #RichardsforDeathlok https://t.co/d5BL7GaIjj— J. August Richards (@jaugustrichards) March 30, 2019
If Deathlok does appear in a future Marvel Studios film, it’s likely that a different actor will wear the cybernetic eye. The comics have portrayed many versions of the cyborg, none of whom were TV’s Mike Peterson iteration. In the source material, the most popular incarnations of Deathlok have been the original soldier version from the 1970s, Luther Manning, and the 1990s character of Michael Collins, a devoted pacifist and family man who programs a so-called “no-killing parameter” into his own CPU.
Currently, details are slim, but the Deadline piece has already fueled fan theories across Twitter.
While little is known of Marvel’s post-Endgame plans, ComicBook.com has speculated that Deathlok may appear opposite Scarlett Johansson as the antagonist of the upcoming Black Widow film. That movie is rumored to be a prequel set between Captain Marvel and Iron Man, so a pre-Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. version of Deathlok (such as Manning or Collins) could be employed by HYDRA, A.I.M., or whatever villainous organization Johannson’s spy heroine is pitted against, until she presumably releases him from his killer programming.
It seems unlikely that Deathlok is being targeted for a solo film at this stage, though the same could have once been said about Guardians of the Galaxy.