Some people think Floyd Lawton, a.k.a. Deadshot, is just a dude with great aim and an epic mustache. Whether they were introduced to him in the DC Animated Universe or the Arkham video game franchise, those people probably believe he's yet another assassin with impressive accuracy. All badassery, no real story potential. Well, it turns out there's much more to the character than just his wrist gauntlets and the amazing way he styles his facial hair. I mean, those are definitely standout features, but the character has much more depth than some may expect.
Believe it or not, Deadshot didn't always have his signature mask with a red eye. When he made his debut back in BATMAN #59, he basically looked like Mr. Monopoly attempting to be a cowboy. (According to a much later issue, he's dressed as Ronald Coland from the unmade movie Raffles Goes West.) Floyd poses as Gotham's new hero, but he was really running a gang as well. Eventually, Batman uncovers the truth and places Floyd in jail. The Dark Knight stopping crime is kind of what he's known for, after all. Just like a gazillion other villains, Floyd eventually escapes prison and steps into his new (and infinitely cooler) signature outfit. He became the efficient assassin you now know, having several encounters with Batman (we'll talk about that relationship in a bit because it's very important) and he plays a substantial role when he's part of the Suicide Squad and then Secret Six.
In the New 52, he's once again a part of the Suicide Squad. I mean, the team just wouldn't feel the same without him being a part of it at one point. His future on the team is uncertain, but considering he'll appear in theaters next year, it's safe to assume DC probably has noteworthy plans for the guy. But what turned him into such a seemingly cold-hearted killing machine? The following four paragraphs (and images!) contains major spoilers from his first limited series, so skip it if you haven't read it yet and don't want big plot twists ruined!
Floyd had an older brother, Edward Robert Lawton. The kid exceled at virtually everything, was loved by many and he was nice. You'd think this would make Floyd jealous of his brother and grow to hate him, but instead he admired his brother -- he idolized him. His ridiculously wealthy parents, however, didn't have such a healthy relationship. They loathed one another and eventually, the mother convinced Edward that he should shoot and kill his father. Floyd tried to stop the brother he loves from going through with the messed up plan, but Edward locked him out of the house. Still determined to stop his brother from killing his father, Floyd grabbed a hunting rifle, climbed a tree, and took aim. As his armed brother approached their dad, Floyd aimed at Edward's arm and prepared to take the shot. He hoped to prevent anyone from dying, but right when he was ready to fire, the branch he was sitting on snapped. His bullet ended up going through his brother's head and his brother ended up shooting their father in the spine. Floyd wanted nothing more than to save the brother he worships and instead he put a bullet between the kid's eyes. If that doesn't mess someone up, I just don't know what would. Oh, and two decades later he puts his mother in a wheelchair by shooting her in the spine. We won't tell you what motivates him to finally do that, but we do strongly recommend reading the four issue limited series.
The name "Deadshot" wouldn't appear for several years after the death of his brother, but that horrible incident is the moment that molded him into the man he is today. His only rule seems to be he won't kill children. Aside from that, there seems to be no job he won't turn down. No matter how crazy or hopeless it may seem, he doesn't fear the possibility of death. In fact, he embraces it.
"If Deadshot never misses, how come Batman's still alive?" That's a good question, random reader! They've certainly encountered each other plenty of times and Floyd has seemingly let loose, but obviously, he hasn't killed the Caped Crusader in any of their battles. Does Batman's armor save him? A few times. Does Batman's stealth, tactics, and skill counter Deadshot's aim? It can. What really leads to Deadshot's defeat is the fact he pulls his shots against the hero and sometimes shoots where he knows Batman's armor will make it non-lethal. That's right, this man who has no problem killing countless targets apparently refuses to take down DC's famous hero.
Floyd may not admit it, but deep down, Batman reminds him of his brother. So yes, that means Deadshot's technically a Batman fanboy just like so many of us, except he acts way cooler about it when he's around the vigilante. Plus, I can't really picture Floyd wearing a Batman shirt. Anyway, Floyd couldn't save his brother, so he refuses to kill the one man who reminds him of the sibling he loved so much.
Deadshot's origin underwent some drastic changes in the New 52. His parents -- who were in love -- were struggling with finances and Floyd had a sister, not a brother. Instead of his family tearing itself apart, some gunmen entered the apartment right next to them and opened fire. Firing dozens of bullets at their two targets, many of the projectiles tore through the wall and went into Floyd's family. A novel saved Deadshot from a few bullets. The senseless, random, and sloppy death of his family filled him with hate, anger, and determination. He remembered the faces of those two gunmen (he saw them fleeing) and he made sure each and every bullet should mean something. If a bullet is fired, it'll hit its intended target and not stray elsewhere.
If you want to see Deadshot put his abilities as a marksman to the test, you'll want to read his second limited series. It turns out the assassin has a daughter and she's living in a not-so-great section of Star City. Floyd heads there to make sure the neighborhood is safe for her and what follows is pretty much non-stop action. He even battles Green Arrow! The story may not be as emotional or compelling as the first volume, but it makes up for that with a whole lot of jaw-dropping displays of Deadshot doing what he does best.
Aside from his two limited series, we recommend checking out his appearances in the first volume of SUICIDE SQUAD or SECRET SIX. It may not have the spectacular displays of awesome action like some of his cameos and the second volume do, but it makes up for that by delivering a strong focus on story and character. This is where his personality really gets to shine. If you can only get one issue to see if this character interests you, we recommend giving SECRET SIX #15 a read. It's pretty much one big character study and also a recap of his past.
Want to enjoy something entertaining which features Deadshot but you're not exactly in a reading mood? Batman: Assault on Arkham is what you're looking for. In a movie which features Batman, Harley Quinn, and Joker, it's Deadshot who manages to totally steal the spotlight. It's a heist movie with a ton of personality and fun, so that alone should pull you in. From Floyd's competitive and hostile relationship with Captain Boomerang to his savage fight with Joker, it really is something every Deadshot fan should watch at least once. Now I'm left wondering if Will Smith has seen it. (In case you haven't heard by now, he's playing Deadshot in David Ayer's Suicide Squad.)
Peter Parker is defined by that terrible moment with Uncle Ben. Batman is transformed by the horrific murder of his parents. Those two iconic heroes experienced huge tragedies and then did everything they could to take all of their pain and anger and turn it into something positive. Deadshot's traumatic experience made him feel nothing but numb on the inside and it's a feeling he'll never be able to shake. He's a man who wants death but it looks like the universe has other plans for him. To some, he may just be yet another villain who has a cool design and is incredibly gifted with firearms. To me, he's a tragic character who manages to amuse because of his blunt personality and stunning accuracy.
He's been broken on the inside since he was a child and he simply doesn't care anymore. Unlike so many others, he's fighting so he can die. It's just too bad for him that he's so talented and seems to keep overcoming the impossible or getting very, very lucky. He'll keep fighting and fighting until one day he gets the rest he so desperately craves. Maybe as his life begins to fade away from him in his final moments, he'll finally know what it's like to truly be happy.
Considering he plays a role in a big movie next year, the chances of him finally meeting his end doesn't seem too likely, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see what DC has planned for Mr. Lawton. Maybe -- just maybe -- they'll capitalize on the attention the movie's receiving and release a third Deadshot limited series. In the meantime, we'll continue to enjoy his amusing interactions with others and his ridiculously impressive shooting. Even if his upcoming appearances aren't all that good, at least there's plenty of comics that are absolutely worth reading all over again.
Do you also like the marksman and think he's more than just a dude with solid aim? Share your thoughts with the world below.