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DC’s Bloodsport Explained: Who Is Idris Elba’s The Suicide Squad Character?

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After months of speculation, we finally know which DC villain Idris Elba is playing in The Suicide Squad. And it’s… probably not the character you were expecting. No, he’s not Deadshot, Deathstroke or Bronze Tiger. Instead, Elba is playing an obscure but still significant Superman villain named Bloodsport.Who the heck is Bloodsport? That’s what we’re hear to answer. Here’s everything you need to know about this forgotten villain and why he’s getting top billing in James Gunn’s new movie.

Who Is Bloodsport?

Not to be confused with the beloved Jean Claude Van Damme movie, or with the various other hyper-violent, gun-toting comic book characters with the word “blood” in their name (Bloodstrike, Bloodwulf, etc.) Bloodsport is a DC villain who dates back to 1987’s Superman #4. There have actually been several versions of the character over the years, but they all share a few things in common. They’re good with guns, plagued by mental instability and fond of executing those they see.

The original Bloodsport is named Robert DuBois. DuBois is wracked by guilt after his brother takes his place in the Vietnam War and returns home a quadruple amputee. DuBois becomes obsessed with the war and avenging his brother, even if it means slaughtering innocent Metropolis citizens. Lex Luthor is able to take advantage of that, brainwashing DuBois into believing Superman is a threat, arming him with high-tech weaponry and turning him loose on the Man of Steel.

Ironically, while DuBois is a black man, the second Bloodsport is a white supremacist named Alex Trent. Trent takes up his predecessor’s mantle and weaponry before winding up in jail. He even finds himself locked in a boxing match with fellow prisoner DuBois. While Trent technically wins the fight by teleporting his weapons into the prison and killing DuBois, Trent himself is later murdered by his own gang for showing weakness in the fight.

A third version of Bloodsport has made small appearances in more recent DC stories, but their identity is unknown. They could even be a resurrected DuBois or Trent, for all we know. With the character poised to make his live-action movie debut, maybe DC will finally get around to addressing that mystery.

The original Bloodsport is a black man, while his successor is a white supremacist. But they both love guns.

Bloodsport’s Powers & Abilities

Both DuBois and Trent share the same basic abilities. They’re both adept at wielding various firearms, and they both have access to a high-tech armory. Bloodsport’s greatest asset in battle is the fact that he can access his vast armory at will, literally teleporting whatever weapon he needs directly to his location.

Whether we see this ability on display in The Suicide Squad, though, remains to be seen. How do you control a prisoner who can summon any weapon he wants at the drop of a hat?

How Bloodsport Almost Killed Superman

Elba is specifically playing the Robert DuBois version of Bloodsport, and there’s probably a good reason for that. The original Bloodsport is notorious for managing to come closer than any villain besides Doomsday to actually killing Superman. In his original appearance, Bloodsport was given a full array of high-tech weaponry by Lex Luthor, including guns that fire Kryptonite-laced projectiles. He managed to shoot and seriously wound the Man of Steel, and may well have killed him if not for the timely intervention of Jimmy Olsen. Even Luthor was forced to turn on his new minion after realizing how many civilians had become collateral damage in Bloodsport’s rampage.

This could make for an interesting bit of back-story in the movie, if we learn DuBois has been imprisoned for attempting to assassinate Superman. It’s surely too much to hope for an actual flashback featuring Henry Cavill’s Superman (though Cavill is reportedly appearing in an upcoming DCEU movie), but hinting at this history between the two characters would certainly help establish Bloodsport as a character to be feared.

How Will The Suicide Squad Adapt Bloodsport?

Bloodsport has made a handful of minor appearances outside DC’s comics, including a guest role in an episode of Supergirl (played by David St. Louis) and in animated projects like Justice League Unlimited and Justice League vs The Fatal Five. However, none of these adaptations have stayed particularly close to the source material. The Supergirl version is depicted as a hired gun working for corrupt businessman Morgan Edge, while in Justice League vs. The Fatal Five he’s basically a militant conspiracy theorist.

More than likely, The Suicide Squad will follow this pattern of only loosely drawing on the source material. Consider that early reports pointed to Elba playing Deadshot and taking over the role made famous by Will Smith in the original Suicide Squad. While we later learned Elba is playing a different character, some of that Deadshot DNA seems to have carried over to Bloodsport.

Based on what we’ve seen of the film so far, it seems Bloodsport is still filling the same basic role/archetype as Deadshot. He’s a gun-toting killer, but one who’s more sympathetic and morally grey than his fellow Task Force X members. Like Deadshot, Bloodsport even has a daughter (played by Storm Reid). He may wind up being Deadshot in all but name.

Even so, there’s plenty of potential for the new movie to set Bloodsport apart by leaning on the character’s origin story and the idea that he’s trying to atone for allowing his brother to serve in his place.

If you missed out on the DC FanDome fun, be sure to check out our breakdown of the coolest announcements and trailers from the show.

The Suicide Squad Who’s Who: Full Cast and Character Reveals

Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

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