Most of us comic book fans know Deadshot as an expert marksman and an insanely dangerous assassin. But he is also a character who has taken the role of both villain and antihero over his years in comics. One of the most exciting thing about Deadshot is its back and forth transition between villain and hero.
DC, along with creators David Reed and Lou Schwartz, first introduced Deadshot in Batman issue 59 in 1950. In his first appearance, we meet him as a wealthy and incredibly gifted marksman who suddenly takes up crime-fighting while Batman and Robin are away on vacation.
After stopping a robbery with one of his trademark trick shots, Deadshot introduces himself to the police and even the mayor. He tells them that he’s just looking to put his talent to good use and he chose the vigilante method only because the metal plate in his leg made it impossible for him to be a police officer. Deadshot promises that he will never shoot to kill and the mayor gives him his approval to become Batman successor as Gotham’s new crime-fighting vigilante. Batman was shocked when he returned to find the bat-signal replaced with a bulls-eye. He quickly discovers what happened and who replaced them while he was away.
After being introduced to Deadshot, Batman and Robin decide to work with him. During the first assignment, Batman notices that Deadshot’s leg doesn’t set off a metal detector. Batman begins to investigate his new partner and to be the world’s greatest detective he manages to discover that Deadshot’s actual name is Floyd Lawton. While spying on Lawton at his mansion, Batman overhears him confessing to his Butler his actual plan to kill him and Robin and take over Gotham as a crime lord. Long story short Batman stops him, and Deadshot ends up being put in a maximum-security prison.
He would remain there until 1977. When in the Detective Comics 474 he breaks out of prison by stealing a laser that the penguin had smuggled in. In this Issue, we learned that for apparent reasons Lawton had developed a pretty severe dislike for Batman during his time in prison and vowed revenge.
He upgrades his costume from his original tuxedo with dual gun holsters to a full-body suit with an attached eye scope and Magnum guns on each wrist. This costume would become his iconic costume as his previous tuxedo costume wasn’t the best.
Deadshot would spend the next few years making unsuccessful attempts to destroy Batman which eventually leads him to be locked up in Belle Reve. But not before he manages to establish himself as one of the world’s deadliest assassins for hire.
Later on while at Belle Reve Deadshot is approached by Amanda Waller and recruited into her newly formed Task Force. It was a team of the world’s most deadly convicts designed to carry out suicide missions that no one else would take aka the Suicide Squad.
Deadshot accepts Amanda’s offer, and while his character and backstory remain mostly undeveloped at this point, this is where we start to see Deadshot display his now well-known death wish without much explanation as to why. That is until 1988 when Suicide Squad creator John Ostrander gave Deadshot his very own four-issue miniseries in which we learn about his tragic childhood and many of the circumstances that led to his miserable life decisions.
Backstory of Deadshot
Floyd Lawton grew up in a wealthy but abusive family. Although he idolized his older brother Edward, his parents hated each other. This made his life miserable at home. Eventually, it all started to fall apart when Floyd’s mother convinces Edward to kill their abusive father.
Floyd tries to stop him from making a horrible mistake, but Edward locks him out of the house. So Floyd climbs a tree with a rifle and attempts to shoot the gun out of his brother’s hand through a window. But just as he’s pulling the trigger, the tree branch breaks, causing him to shoot Edward in the head, killing him instantly accidentally.
Accidentally killing his brother who was the only true friend that he had ever known sends Floyd on a downward spiral. He gives up any hope in humanity and loses all value for life including his own. It’s at this point he vows never to miss his target again and begins training in the art of sharpshooting which sets him on a course that would eventually lead him to become Deadshot.
As if his newly explained back story wasn’t devastating enough in the same miniseries we learned that Floyd being a member of The Suicide Squad had started a family at some point. But was forced to abandon and detach himself from his wife and two children to protect them from his enemies.
It only gets worse from there. After years of separation, his young son Edward, who he named after his older brother, is kidnapped by men working for Floyd’s mother to blackmail him into finally killing his father. Deadshot refuses and starts killing everyone involved.
But he failed to save his son before he was raped and murdered by one of the kidnappers who was a sick pedophile. Deadshot decides to kill his mother and put an end to the madness. But a friend ends up talking him out of killing her. Deadshot instead paralyzes her by shooting her in the spine.
Not surprisingly, this whole series of events pushes Deadshot further down the road to crazy town, leaving him incredibly unstable. So when Amanda Waller sends him on a mission to stop Rick Flagg from killing a U.S. Senator, Deadshot kills the senator himself in an attempt to provoke cops into killing him. The police end up shooting him several times, but he survives and is placed in Arkham Asylum for quite a while.
Deadshot would eventually be called back to Suicide Squad to help rescue members of the team on Planet Apocalypse He even becomes the team leader at times. He would then remain a member of the team until it was dissolved by Amanda Waller. He would, of course, rejoined the Suicide Squad several years later and went on to be part of several new significant missions and events in the DC Universe including Infinite Crisis where he also becomes a member of secret six.
Powers and Abilities of Deadshot
- Deadshot is an expert marksman who prides himself on never missing his target. He is well known for his seemingly impossible shots. Most consider him to be the world’s greatest sniper. He even uses perfect accuracy with any and all known weapons.
- Also, he is highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat including knowledge of the human anatomy which makes him a scary opponent for almost anyone. As we saw earlier, he has actually gone toe-to-toe with Batman on several occasions.
- Similar to Batman he has also trained in espionage and clandestine tactics making him a stealth and an elusive predator who was very adaptable in the field.
- Moving on to weapons, Deadshot is most known for his wrist-mounted guns. These guns can take modified rounds including explosive bullets, grappling hooks and so on.
- Another one of his most dangerous weapons is a sniper rifle which he uses with terrifying accuracy from long distances.
- He has also been known to use knives, rocket launchers, and explosives.
- His suit is made of a highly durable body armor that protects him from gunfire and even small explosions.
All of this makes for someone you don’t want coming after you. Ultimately Deadshot is a sad, complicated mess of a human being who has minimal regard for human life especially his own.