With the start of season 3 of Superman & Lois, it was clear that it will have a fair share of powerful villains, the kind that will present quite a threat to Superman, Lois, Metropolis, and Smallville as a whole. We learned early that Bruno Manheim, the leader of Intergang, has been creating superpowered villains by using Clark’s blood, and so far, we’ve had the “pleasure” of seeing Atom-Man and Onomatopoeia. In the latest episode 5, we’ve seen yet another criminal turned supervillain, James Distefano, going under the name “Deadline.” So who is Deadline & what are his power and abilities?
James Distefano, aka Deadline, is one of the criminals that was granted compassionate release so that Aleister Hook could experiment on him. Deadline has phasing powers and is able to turn invisible and phase through objects via his high-tech suit, and he seemingly appears to be in good health thanks to the serum derived from Superman’s blood. In the comics, Deadline was originally a metahuman assassin with phasing abilities and one of the biggest villains of Starman.
One short paragraph is not enough to explain who exactly Deadline is. Due to this, we’ve prepared quite the character background for you in the rest of this article. If you’re interested in more, stay with us and keep reading!
Deadline suffers from a terminal illness, and only Bruno Manheim can help him
Early in season 3, we learned that Intergang stole samples of Superman’s blood and was using it to give superpowers to terminally ill criminals. This was the story behind Atom-Man, and probably behind Onomatopoeia, who, so far, remains the most mysterious of the bunch.
While they were researching the Judge who granted compassionate release to Atom-Man, Chrissy, and Lois learned that one more criminal under the name of James Distefano was likewise granted release at around the same time.
James, like most of Manheim’s henchmen, suffered from an undisclosed disease and was one of the test subjects for Aleister Hook and his macabre experiments. Nowadays, James Distefano cannot survive without regular injections of the serum derived from Superman’s blood which is the only thing that keeps him from dying and keeping the illness at bay.
Deadline has phasing powers
Like most other serum-enhanced villains, Deadline likewise has enhanced reflex speed and durability. Still, the core of Deadline’s power lie in his high-tech suit. The suit allows him to phase through solid objects, as we’ve seen in the latest episode when he turned invisible and completely avoided all of Superman’s attacks by phasing through them.
Deadline also came prepared to a fight armed with weapons laced with green kryptonite, and we all know what kind of effect that has on Superman.
Still, Superman managed to defeat him by destroying the device on his chest and leaving him “half-phased” with the wall. His fate, in that sense, remains uncertain as we don’t know what kind of effect “phasing with the wall” has on his enhanced body.
Deadline was the one who broke into DoD’s secret building
We learned that Manheim had some kind of a task for Jame Distefano, and due to his phasing abilities, Deadline is practically perfect for any kind of infiltration. He used his abilities to easily get into DoD’s building and strongarm the general into revealing the location of the secret database. He used her retinal scan to access the data and started downloading the info.
Superman managed to stop him, but not before the data transfer was complete. Likewise, Clark later learned that the data Intergang stole was not the only thing that Intergang was after, as they managed to steal one more thing while Superman was busy with the Deadline. The thing in question is extremely dangerous and can have devastating consequences for Metropolis because Intergang stole the corpse of Bizarro Superman.
Deadline is a well-known Starman villain from the comics
The comic version of Deadline debuted in Starman #15 back in 1989, and like his Superman & Lois counterpart, even before he acquired his superpowers, he was a criminal and a gun for hire.
Deadline worked as an elite assassin for criminal families in America. The thing that led to him acquiring powers was, in this case, a Gene-bomb activated by Dominators.
After this incident, Deadline learned that he was metahuman all along and that he had increased durability, fast reflexes, and, you guessed it, phasing powers.
His newly-acquired phasing abilities made him an even better assassin, and he started taking on more “high-risk” contracts. One incident that changed his life was his contract on Starman, during which Deadline suffered debilitating burns. This led to Deadline developing a special kind of hatred toward Starman, and the two clashed many times. Deadline was before the New 52 rework, considered to be primarily a Starman villain.
Deadline was, over the years, a member of numerous criminal organizations and supervillain teams, including the Killer Elite and Suicide Squad.
Just like his live-action portrayal, Deadline has metahuman properties such as superhuman agility, superhuman durability, and enhanced healing factor that allows him to recover from injuries faster than a regular human would. Due to his line of work, Deadline’s superfast reflexes and marksmanship came in handy.
The major difference between the comic version of Deadline and the live-action version is the fact that James Distefano’s powers in Superman & Lois are derived from the phasing device on his high-tech suit, and in the comics, Deadline has natural phasing abilities due to his metagene being activated.