Neil Shaw (Wesley Snipes in The Art of War) in a suit and bow tie

Neil Shaw


The Art of War was a 2000 action movie starring Wesley Snipes.

It wasn’t well-reviewed, in part because the plot was seen as convoluted. Which isn’t an issue as far as we’re concerned since, well, we routinely deal with super-hero comic books continuity.

Also, Wesley Snipes is cool.

This character was a more heroically capable version of Snipes’ usual action characters. Notes for representing his more realistic characters (like in, say, Passenger 57) are also included.



  • Real Name: Neil Shaw.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None, formerly United Nations.
  • Base Of Operations: France, formerly mobile.
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black

Powers and Abilities

Neil Shaw is the lead field agent for a covert UN team specializing in espionage. He has the skills to match, along with excellent combat training.

Shaw’s single most notable ability is his incredible perception. His detective abilities allow him to detect danger with the slightest signs, and to make deductions from very minor clues. Except when, in true action movie tradition, he missed the blatantly obvious plot twist.



All records of Shaw’s life before joining the United Nations have been eliminated. It can be presumed that he had been in part selected because he had no close friends or family.

Several years ago, Shaw was recruited to lead the covert operations team of the United Nations’ security department. But his team’s mandate extended far beyond security. He thus became actively involved in intelligence gathering for blackmail purposes, to assure success in any number of UN negotiations. Shaw has been injured several times in the line of duty.

In 2000, Shaw was framed for the assassination of a Chinese ambassador during delicate negotiations. Shaw’s investigation into the murder lead him to his own teammate, Bly and his boss Eleanor Hooks, Head of UN Security. After taking down Bly and Hooks, he faked his own death (with FBI Agent Cappella’s help) and retired.


Shaw is a handsome, athletic African American with short hair and either a light smile or an intense stare.

He wears whatever clothing is appropriate to his current identity, and adopts the speech and mannerisms to match.


Shaw is an archetypal strong silent type. He is marked both by his ability to remain calm in any situation and his dry wit. He is innovative and fearless (almost to the point of recklessness), and uses these traits to find unexpected ways to resolve situations.

He is used to facing tense situations with minimal support. Shaw can face incredibly dangerous and difficult situations on his own without any visible stress.


“Perhaps I will quit and go work at McDonalds. At least they have a health plan.”

DC Universe History

Shaw could be incorporated into the DCU without any alteration. He could be encountered as a covert operative during his time at the UN, or as a Connection for a PC or important NPC after his retirement.

To incorporate Shaw more fully into the history of the DCU, he was one of the sons of Sassy, a fortune teller/street informer who knew Mark Shaw (a.k.a. Manhunter) when Mark was a child. Neil was inspired by Mark to get involved in law enforcement. He eventually became the head field agent of the UN’s secret security branch.

He had little in the way of official records to begin with, so making him disappear was easy. He took the name of Neil Shaw as an homage to his inspiration.

And then…

When his superior was revealed to be a Manhunter agent (whose secret agenda he was unwittingly furthering), he took her out and went into deep cover. He is currently using his knowledge and hidden resources to pursue other conspirators, Manhunter or otherwise. In this case, give Shaw a High Connection to Mark Shaw and Expertise (Manhunters).

Neil might have also worked or even trained with Thomas Tresser (a.k.a. Nemesis), since they share a common modus operandi.

Given the events of the vertigo Unknown Soldier mini-series, Shaw might also be considered as a potential replacement by the Soldier. He has no friends or family to speak of, he has extensive experience with covert operations and international politics, and he seems to be comfortable doing dirty work when necessary without going to excess.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Neil Shaw

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 07 Wil: 08 Min: 07 Occupation: Former UN Covert Operative
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 05
Init: 022 HP: 030

Acrobatics: 08, Artist (Actor)*: 05, Detective: 09, Martial Artist: 07, Military Science: (Danger Recognition): 09, Thief*: 06, Thief (Stealth): 07, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee)*: 06

Area Knowledge (New York), Intensive Training, Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Scholar (International Politics), Sharp Eye.

FBI Special Agent Cappella (Low).

Dark Secret (Covert Ops work).


  • RADIO EARPLUGS [BODY 01, Radio Communication: 07. These earplugs also have induction microphones, allowing the wearer to communicate with others wearing similar earplugs without any visible apparatus (barring an intensive search)].
  • Scope [BODY 01, Telescopic Vision: 05. The scope was just a palm-sized telescope with rangefinder].
  • Silenced Pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Thief (Stealth): 05, Ammo: 13, Limitation: Thief only indicates difficulty to detect noise of gunshot].

The early Shaw

Prior to the events of the movie, Shaw had both a High Connection to Eleanor Hooks, UN Chief of Security. He also had Credentials for entering United Nations Events (always under an alias).

While employed by the UN he had Resources: 08 and 3x 6 AP C Omni-Gadgets, representing various spy gadgets à la James Bond. Examples from the movie include a hidden parachute and spectacles with a built-in camera.

If you want to include his Confidant (and eventual enemy) Bly, you can use the Corporal Hicks stats (both were played by Michael Biehn). Just add one AP to DEX, make Acrobatics a full Linked skill and equip Bly with the same items Shaw has.

Shaw often used hand-held computers for espionage work [BODY: 1, Interface: 04, Recall: 06, Bonus: Interface can only work through either cellular phone connections or infrared comm ports].

Less cinematic Wesley Snipes characters

Wesley Snipes’ characters are usually a bit more Realistic in terms of abilities. Shaw is tougher than even the classic Snipes-played heroes. One of these characters would make a fine addition to the Gotham City PD or the Metropolis SCU. To represent one of his typical street-level action characters, make the following changes.

  • Lower Mental Attributes by 1 AP — his characters are quick-witted and adaptable, but not usually to the degree that he was in The Art of War.
  • Acrobatics, Detective, and Martial Artist are all linked (thus lowering APs as appropriate). Drop Military Science and the Separate Thief Subskill.
  • Change Scholar to suit the character’s job (typical examples are Airline Security, Interpreter, and Homicide Investigator). Drop Dark Secret, and add Credentials (Medium) for whatever agency he’s working with, usually local or federal law enforcement.
  • He typically has a High Connection to a former or current colleague who serves as a sidekick and/or confidant. Use typical Police Officer stats with +1 or 2 APs to Mental Attributes and Skills.
  • Finally, remember: “Always bet on black.”

By Roy Cowan.

Source of Character: The Art of War (movie), character played by Wesley Snipes.

Helper(s): Philip John Mason, Sébastien Andrivet.