3. The Vision Connection
Introducing Deathlok in this way also works as perhaps an interesting thematic tie to 2016's The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron: namely, a nice, meaty artificial intelligence run amok story with the benefit of introducing something like Vision to the shared TV/film universe.
For those of you unfamiliar with Vision, he was the android version of Martian Manhunter with a dash of Red Tornado, who would become a mainstay of the Avengers, husband to the Scarlet Witch, and frequent resident of the scrap heap. More importantly, he was also the franchise's take on the great sci-fi question: what makes us human?
It's not unreasonable to expect the AoS writers taking a page from some of Vision's greatest hits, as he fought a long-running battle to maintain his humanity while under the control of his programming. That's grist for some excellent, fundamental science fiction stuff there, plus our poor hero, Michael Peterson may, even on the side of the angels, offer the threat of reverting to the dark side thanks to very evil, very persistent programming.
So here, the writers of the story-challenged show have the opportunity for some meaty plotting... only to find out that to use it could hose them from the start like so many cyborg-feeding station nozzles.
2. Because Here's Where Things Could Get Dumb...
Or less dumb and more... easy and repetitive as we may have to suffer through an arc reintroducing Michael Peterson's issues and stuff. Again.
For those of you who suffered through the AoS pilot, you'll recall that Peterson was an accidental superhero, thanks to a secret initiative by the Centipede science goons to create on-demand human weapons. That episode saw Richards' character struggling with his new, potentially volatile powers as well as spiking rage levels, ultimately giving us the climactic first act where our heroes... attempt to reason with the heavy?
Anyway, it would not be a major surprise if Peterson-as-Deathlok played out more or less the same arc when it's written into the series: numerous scenes of Richards trying his earnest hardest to be a decent guy while his poorly-CG'd powers cause him to run amok. It's all too easy to imagine that storyline resurfacing and potentially frustrating given how this is less a character-based story and more plot-based (ultimately kind of throwing the character under the bus).
Reusing Peterson for this particular arc will yet again foist a story upon the character where's he's unwittingly turned into a villain and caught in a struggle for his own good, inner nature. And we've already seen the character win that battle, and unlike with Hulk Hogan's "Hollywood" phase, we already know it's just a matter of time before our hero does a face turn, thus stripping any potential plot of dramatic heft.
Which is why the character needs a broader canvas than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with another civilian identity.
1. Enter: The Deathlok Movie?! Or, Claws of the Wolverlok!
Let's set the scene: somewhere in the sewers of New York, Captain America hurls his shield at a trying--very-hard-to-kill him Deathlok, only for the would-be assassin to take a flying disc of patriotism to the top lip. As Deathlok falls to the ground, from the shadows emerge... another Deathlok! And another! And another! Until Cap is surrounded, making a final, futile stand against his assassins, before meeting his heroic end.
And so it goes for Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, and whatever other characters aren't under the control of FOX and Sony.
This was the basis of a recent arc of Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force, which saw Deathlok kill-squads eliminating Earth's superheroes and helping usher in a utopia before being hurled back into the past to wipe out the one superhero who could thwart their mission. And among, them, one lone unit regains his conscience, joining our present-day heroes in defeating the wave of killers and restoring a less-than-perfect, but free timeline.
Ladies and gentlemen, here we have the rough sketch of what could be a great future Deathlok film (as well as a way to get Marvel's first hero of color headlining the latest wave of movies based on their properties). With a dash of Terminator and an extra helping of Robocop, a film based on the Deathlok mini-invasion would be the perfect bridge between the Marvel Cinematic U and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (if it, you know, lasts that long).
Hell, if his rights weren't tied up in the Marvel/Disney movies, he could somehow make an appearance in the forthcoming X-Force movie out of FOX, serving as the Rosetta Stone that unites the two cinematic universes, so that the Avengers and Also Wolverine movie we've all been secretly wanting actually happens.
In the meantime, we'll have to content ourselves with whatever generic flavor of Deathlok we ultimately get in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: one which probably won't have nearly as much zombie face as we all clearly want.
Previously by Charles Webb: