What do you do when your life falls apart? Well, if you’re any one of the number of men in DC’s comics who’ve taken on the name Bloodsport, you shoot as many people as you can — including Superman — until the Metropolis authorities finally put you behind bars or padded walls.
The first Bloodsport made his bullet-riddled premiere in 1987’s Superman #4, not long after writer/artist John Byrne took over the reins of the Man of Steel and changed his mythology forever. But the name of Bloodsport wouldn’t end with that first burst of carnage. Instead, at least three deadly villains would use the name in DC’s comics, each with different agendas, two of whom would meet and beat the hateful tar out of one another. Different versions of the character would pop up in other media, including Warner Brothers’ excellent animated series and films based on the comics, as well as in the CW’s so-called "Arrowverse" of shows. And that’s not mentioning, of course, Idris Elba bringing the character to life in 2021’s The Suicide Squad.
While we can’t say he’s made the biggest mark on DC’s mythology, Bloodsport has certainly proven to be one of its more interesting figures, with the name and concept proving to work for a variety of bloodthirsty gunmen with different motivations. If you’re curious about all the different shades of this relatively obscure yet versatile DC supervillain, keep reading for the untold truth of Bloodsport.
Bloodsport and the Kryptonite bullet
The original Bloodsport is Robert DuBois, a madman who murders dozens of innocent Metropolis citizens during a rampage unfolding in Superman #4. DuBois commands a seemingly endless arsenal of high-tech weaponry that he can teleport into his grasp, including a pistol that fires slivers of Kryptonite. He comes off like an enraged Vietnam War veteran, often yelling at his victims that they’re wasting the freedom he fought to preserve.
After Bloodsport’s initial attack on a restaurant where he murders over two dozen civilians, Superman gets involved and corners DuBois in a bowling alley. Bloodsport wounds Superman with a Kryptonite bullet, but thankfully, Jimmy Olsen’s timely intervention saves Kal-El from an execution. In the meantime, the fact that Bloodsport has access to Kryptonite leads Superman to correctly deduce that DuBois’ sponsor is Lex Luthor.
Just as he saves Superman in the bowling alley, it’s Jimmy Olsen who figures out the key to defeating the villain. Olsen’s research leads him to the discovery that Bloodsport never served in Vietnam. When his number came up, he fled to Canada, and his younger brother Mickey went to Vietnam in his place, losing both arms and legs for his trouble. Robert DuBois’ guilt drove him mad and turned him into Bloodsport. Jimmy finds Mickey and brings him to the battle, where he pleads with Bloodsport to stop his rampage. Bloodsport collapses in tears at the sight of his brother, and the gunman is sent to a maximum security psychiatric facility, but it isn’t the last we see of him.
The Bloodsport of hate
In 1993, Adventures of Superman #507 opens with a heavily armed masked man calling himself Bloodsport and interrupting a mugging in a Metropolis alleyway. As he murders two of the three muggers, you may think he’s a crime-fighter with less forgiving tactics, similar to Marvel’s Punisher, but when he murders the victim of the mugging, you’ll change your mind. This is Alex Trent — a white supremacist dedicated to murdering as many people of color as he can.
The story bleeds into Action Comics #694, and over the course of both issues, the new Bloodsport murders even more innocents than his predecessor — mostly people of color, though he’s also happy to turn his violent attentions to whites he despises for consorting with other races. With the arrival of the cyborg villain Hi-Tech, we learn both she and Bloodsport are pawns of the demon Bloodthirst.
Bloodsport is presumed dead following an explosion at the end of Action Comics #694, but the following year in Action Comics #702, he returns to continue his racist rampage. Just as Jimmy Olsen is key to defeating the original Bloodsport, it’s fittingly another Daily Planet employee — reporter Ron Troupe — who finds Trent’s Achilles’ heel. Like DuBois before him, Trent teleports his weapons to his hands, though his teleporter is implanted in his chest so no one can take it from him. However, Troupe tracks down Bloodsport’s weapons cache and destroys it, leaving nothing for the racist to fight with. Superman captures Trent, who’s eventually sent to Stryker’s Island Prison.
Bloodsport vs. Bloodsport
In 1995’s Adventures of Superman #526, we learn Robert DuBois is the victim of budget cuts. Needing to siphon off some of its patients, the psychiatric facility where DuBois was being treated has transferred him to Stryker’s Island Prison — the same prison Alex Trent was sent to after his latest series of murders. DuBois and Trent are destined to collide, and things don’t go well for either of them.
Hoping to ease tensions in his prison, the Stryker’s Island warden agrees to a boxing match between the two Bloodsports, with the proviso that Superman act as referee. The Man of Steel agrees, though he thinks allowing the boxing match is a bad idea. The match itself doesn’t last very long. DuBois easily dominates Trent in the beginning, after which Trent tackles his opponent. But when Superman pulls the boxers apart, Trent reveals a gun. As it turns out, his Aryan Brotherhood allies have managed to get him a new cache of weaponry. A riot quickly erupts, and Superman juggles trying to stop the crowds of prisoners with trying to get ahold of DuBois and Trent.
DuBois manages to get Trent’s gun from him and get past the walls of the prison, but he’s gunned down and killed by the guards. Trent survives the riot but not for long. His Aryan Brotherhood buddies learn that at one point during the chaos, Superman had to save Trent from DuBois. Ashamed that a Black man got the better of Trent, the Brotherhood burns Trent to death in his cell.
The Bloodsport of mystery
The third version of Bloodsport to appear in the comics has so far proven to be the most mysterious. Unlike either the late Robert DuBois or Alex Trent, he doesn’t make any claim about twisted ideals serving as his inspiration, and like many supervillains, he seems to don the red skullcap mask purely for the money.
During the late 2000s, Bloodsport appears as one of five villains — the others being Riot, Silver Banshee, Livewire, and Hellgrammite — hired to kill the Man of Steel by the criminal organization Intergang. The story is part of DC’s "One Year Later" event, in which we find Superman’s powers just beginning to return after a battle with Superboy Prime. Superman’s narration indicates this Bloodsport’s techniques are at least a little different from those of his predecessors, indicating the teleportation he uses to retrieve his weapons is "interdimensional."
In spite of his weakened state, Superman is eventually able to defeat the five villains. This new Bloodsport’s name is never revealed, but it’s clear he’s more of a mercenary than the villains to previously use the name. He expresses excitement at the money offered for Superman’s life, particularly after some of his comrades have been defeated, and he realizes he could get a bigger piece of the pie. This Bloodsport’s given name has yet to be revealed, and since "One Year Later," most of his appearances have come in the form of cameos.
Bloodsport fights for, well, bloodsport
Bloodsport made his mark on the DC Animated Universe in the mid-aughts, though in a relatively minor role. In 2005, he made his first appearance on Justice League Unlimited in season 2’s "The Cat and the Canary." The episode revolves around the meta-brawl run by the entrepreneurial villain Roulette. In the meta-brawl, supervillains and heroes fight for sport — some of them against their will. Here, we meet Bloodsport briefly as he’s locking horns with the Batman bad guy Electrocutioner.
It isn’t clear whether or not Bloodsport survives the events of Justice League Unlimited, though it seems unlikely. While he’s usually only seen in the background, Bloodsport is a member of Gorilla Grodd’s Legion of Doom. The Legion eventually suffers an internal conflict between forces loyal to Grodd and those following Lex Luthor. In the battle between Grodd’s people and Lex Luthor’s, Bloodsport can be seen fighting the Atomic Skull. When the Legion of Doom’s space vehicle is destroyed by Darkseid in the series’ penultimate episode, it isn’t revealed whether or not Bloodsport survives. His death is implied, however, as he isn’t one of the villains saved by Star Sapphire and Sinestro.
We also never learn exactly who this version of Bloodsport is supposed to be. We never discover his given name, and the unnamed Bloodsport has yet to appear in DC’s comics. We don’t know if his turn toward crime is similar to that of Robert DuBois’ or if he’s a mercenary like the third Bloodsport.
Bloodsport takes hostages
Though he isn’t one of its titular bad guys, Bloodsport has a minor role in the 2019 animated movie Justice League vs. The Fatal Five. While he isn’t one of the main bad guys, he does create the opportunity for a "teachable moment" for one of the heroes.
While physically this version of Bloodsport most closely resembles Alex Trent, he doesn’t openly express any racist ideologies. Instead, this Bloodsport is a conspiracy theorist who takes a Gotham news station hostage and demands the late John F. Kennedy — who he insists was never assassinated — present himself before he kills everyone in the station. Before going on the air, Bloodsport sends the station’s weather reporter to get him a drink. Shortly after she returns, Bloodsport thinks he sees something blur by in the corner, and while he’s distracted, the woman who appears to be the weather reporter disarms him. It turns out this is actually the young hero Miss Martian who — like J’onn J’onzz — has shape-changing abilities.
Miss Martian gasps when Bloodsport reveals the switch to the bombs strapped to his chest, apparently ready to kill himself for his crazy beliefs, but Batman emerges from the shadows and knocks Bloodsport out before he can blow everyone to hell. Batman scolds Miss Martian for not rendering Bloodsport helpless when she had the chance, and the younger hero tries to get off easy by saying it’s a "teachable moment."
Bloodsport vs. Supergirl
Before Idris Elba got the chance to play him in The Suicide Squad, David St. Louis played Robert DuBois in the season 3 premiere of CW’s Supergirl. However, while he shares DuBois’ name, there are significant differences between this Bloodsport and the villain of the source material. Rather than having a past that includes denying his own draft-dodging, Supergirl‘s Bloodsport does have a military background and works as a terrorist-for-hire.
Bloodsport first locks horns with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) in the cold open of "Girl of Steel," when she joins the National City Police in pursuit of DuBois and his goons. DuBois fights Supergirl on the roof of a speeding truck, armed with an electrified baton. While he doesn’t appear to have any metahuman abilities, Bloodsport is clearly close to peak human condition as he not only survives getting knocked 100 yards through the air by Supergirl and crashing onto the roof of a parked car, but he’s able to brush himself off and escape moments later.
Bloodsport, it’s revealed, is working for the crooked businessman Morgan Edge (Adrian Pasdar). The power-hungry Edge wants National City’s impoverished waterfront knocked down to make way for more lucrative ventures, but he meets resistance from those concerned with the citizens who will be displaced. Bloodsport steals captured alien technology in order to cloak a submarine and attack the waterfront, doing away with Edge’s need for approval. Granted, Supergirl stops Bloodsport, but she’s unable to prove Edge’s part of the plan.
The original Bloodsport returns
Robert DuBois’ time in the afterlife comes to an end in 2021’s "Suicide Squad" #5. The issue opens with a quick recap of DuBois’ origin, though there’s no mention of his death in 1995’s "Adventures of Superman" #526. With all the various reboots and re-workings DC’s continuity has undergone since 1995, we can only assume either DuBois is resurrected by undisclosed means in the intervening years, or his death at Stryker’s Island Prison is erased from history.
Bloodsport’s mission in the Suicide Squad is more specific than the rest of Task Force X. Amanda Waller sends Bloodsport through different dimensions, gathering intel and recruiting new captives for Waller to use. To help him, Waller arms DuBois with a new suit and helmet to protect him from the strains of interdimensional travel, as well as a nearly unlimited arsenal of weapons he can teleport to himself across dimensions.
While a flashback montage early in "Suicide Squad" #5 lets us know Bloodsport has been going it solo for a while, he probably won’t be able to manage on his own for long. The issue finds him in Earth-3, the home of the Crime Syndicate — a group of super crooks made up of sadistic versions of the Justice League heroes. By the end of the issue, Bloodsport is captured by Ultraman, Earth-3’s brutish answer to Superman. Considering Ultraman’s historic penchant for cruelty, Bloodsport may be taking another long nap sooner than he’d like.