Luc Deveraux is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Universal Soldier film series. He is most famously portrayed by Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme. Van Damme portrays Luc in the 1992 film Universal Soldier and its sequels Universal Soldier: The Return (1999), Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009), and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012); he is portrayed by Matt Battaglia in the direct-to-video sequels Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998) and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business (1999).
He first appears in Universal Soldier as GR44, a deceased Vietnam War soldier. Luc becomes a Universal Soldier, or UniSol, after being reanimated in a secret government project, along with other previously dead soldiers. He serves as a remotely controlled super soldier, sent into the most dangerous situations and facing odds too great for the average soldier.
A recurring theme in the series is that he is the only UniSol strong enough to actively resist his conditioning and become more human, though a return to normal functioning seems almost impossible.
In a twist to the usual format of the series, Deveraux serves as the main antagonist in the latest entry, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.
Devereaux was born to Cajun parents and raised in a farm in Louisiana. Most of the details of his childhood are left unexplained, though it is reasonable to surmise that he was born around or before 1948, making him at least 21 when he is deployed to Vietnam.
In 1969 in Vietnam, Luc Deveraux is nearing the end of his tour of duty in the Vietnam war, Luc's friend Sergeant Andrew Scott, went insane and began killing Vietnamese civilians and his own soldiers indiscriminately. After attempting to reason with Scott, Luc attempts to stop him from killing two villagers, resulting in the two soldiers shooting each other to death. Their bodies are recovered from the field and put on ice, and they are falsely listed as "missing in action."
Twenty Three years later in 1992, The U.S. Government has the Black Tower or 'Universal Soldier' program commissioned Luc and Andrews bodies are chosen to be reanimated as UniSols. Luc rebelled when he met Veronica Roberts, a TV journalist who manages to break his conditioning. Having been essentially brain dead for over twenty years, Luc cannot properly function in civilization. The two attempt to find the source of the Black Tower program and help Luc regain his identity, while Scott and other UniSols are sent to kill them. In the end, he learns about the origin of the program and regains his memories. When he returns to Louisiana his aged parents are overjoyed to see him, reunion is cut short when Scott appears, taking Roberts and Luc's parents hostage. Luc and Andrew fight to the death, which ends as Luc impales Scott on the spikes of a hay harvester and eviscerates him with it.
Seven years after the events of the first film, Devereaux is now a technical expert for the government. With his partner Maggie, he is attempting to refine and perfect the UniSol program in an effort to make a new, stronger breed of soldier, one more sophisticated, intelligent, and agile. Also, the process used to resurrect him as a UniSol was reversed, rendering him fully human.
The new UniSols, codenamed Unisol 2500, which are faster and stronger than the original Unisols, are connected through an artificially intelligent computer system called SETH, or Self-Evolving Thought Helix. When SETH discovers that the UniSol program is scheduled to be shut down because of budget cuts, he defensively takes matters into his own "hands."
Killing those who try to switch him off, and unleashing his platoon of super soldiers, led by the musclebound Romeo, SETH quickly takes control of the facility. However, he spares Devereaux, because Deveraux has the secret code needed to deactivate a built-in fail-safe program which will otherwise shut SETH down in a matter of hours. With the help of Squid, a rogue cyberpunk, SETH takes human form.
Luc must also contend with the ambitious reporter Erin Young, and General Radford, who wants to take extreme measures to stop SETH. SETH gets Romeo to find Luc's 13-year-old daughter Hillary and kidnaps her, killing Maggie in the process.
Luc is the only person who can rescue Hillary and stop SETH, because Luc knows firsthand how a UniSol thinks, feels, and fights. Luc infiltrates the UniSol building, where he finds Maggie, who is now revived as a UniSol. Luc and SETH fight hand-to-hand, before Luc freezs SETH with liquid nitrogen and shatters him.
Luc then battles Romeo, who gains the upper hand but is stopped by Maggie, who has rebelled against the UniSols following SETH's demise. Maggie allows Luc to get himself and Hillary out of the building in time. However, the bomb that General Radford had placed was deactivated by SETH before he was destroyed. As Romeo and the UniSols starts to march out to declare war, Luc shoot the explosive charge, blowing up the building and killing all of the UniSols.
Because of the overwhelmingly negative reception toward The Return, subsequent films in the series ignore its events and often contradict them; it is no longer considered part of the series' canon.
Ten years after the events of Universal Soldier, The US Government has replaced the Black Tower program with the White Tower program and Luc Deveraux has now become a decommissioned UniSol and was originally part of a group that consisted of five UniSols and was by far the best of the group the US Government decided to put Deveraux into statis. In 2007 Dr. Sandra Fleming had Deveraux awakened so he could undergo rehabilitation therapy and rejoin society, and they both relocate to Switzerland. At the same time, the US Government shut down the White Tower program.
In 2009, Deveraux is forcibly taken back by the US military to participate in a mission to rescue the Ukrainian prime minister's children, held hostage by renegade Commander Topov in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is rigged with a time bomb. To combat the terrorist's secret weapon, a New Generation UniSol (NGU), Deveraux is reconditioned, geared up and sent to the plant, where he slaughters most of the terrorist forces. He searches the buildings further and sees the children cornered by a clone of his nemesis Andrew Scott. Scott starts to have recollections of Deveraux telling him, "We have been through all this before." Scott charges towards the children with his knife, Deveraux attacks him, and a grueling fight ensues. In the end, Deveraux impales a lead pipe through Scott's head and fires a shotgun through it.
Deveraux then finds the children but they are attacked by the NGU. Deveraux and the NGU take the fight to the site of the bomb, Devereaux jams the detonator in the back of the NGU's uniform as they both jump out the reactor chamber. NGU pulls the detonator off his back just as it explodes, killing him. As the US military moves in, Deveraux leaves the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to start his campaign of freeing UniSols from the programming.
Three years after the events of Universal Soldier: Regeneration, the US government has replaced the White Tower program with the Third Program. Luc Deveraux has been on the run from the military ever since the day he left the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and has shaved off his hair. Luc has returned to the United States and is now living in an underground bunker. He has enlisted another clone of Andrew Scott, his former nemesis, to recruit wayward UniSols, thus establishing a violent cult of enhanced soldiers aiming at a new world order. Because Deveraux's existence is a political threat, he is targeted for termination by the US government.
In the backstory of the film, the head of the Third Program puts Unisol sleeper agent "John" on Deveraux's trail. John eventually finds Deveraux, but fails to kill him. Instead, Deveraux frees John from government control and hires him to perform tasks for his separatist organization, such as assassinating key people of the UniSol program and shipping stolen high tech equipment to his bunker. However, after becoming romantically involved with a woman, John deserts Deveraux and goes missing.
In the main story arc, the US government activates a clone of John, who differs from the original in that he is motivated by false memories of a happy family life, which ended when Deveraux murdered his family and left him for dead. John is surreptitiously led to follow his predecessor's footsteps. As he learns about his own true nature, John eliminates a brainwashed UniSol that Scott had sent after him, and also finds and kills the original John. He then reaches Deveraux's underground bunker, killing his ally Scott and most other UniSols in the process.
In the final confrontation with Deveraux himself, John is nearly defeated, but realizing John's potential as his worthy successor, Deveraux concedes to him. John finally kills Deveraux and takes over his organization, motivated by the grudge he harbors for the US government that caused his pain. John then kills the FBI agent who had manipulated him into hunting down Deveraux and has him replaced with a clone, thus infiltrating the government and initiating the counterattack Deveraux had planned.
In Universal Soldier, Devereaux begins as a Vietnam veteran tired of the war and wanting to go home. As code name GR44, he is a mindless, coldly efficient UniSol. After breaking free from Army control, he displays considerable confusion and curiosity about the world, lacking basic social graces and showing almost childlike interest in many things. As the film progresses, he begins to regain his sense of humanity and shows a range of emotions.
Universal Soldier: Regeneration portrays Devereaux as an essentially broken man, part human, part UniSol. He is weary and confused, much like the original portrayal from the original 1992 film. His psychological testing portrays him as a man both desiring escape from, and haunted by, a past he barely remembers. Once recaptured by the military and conditioned for action, however, he becomes a killing machine once again.
Little of Devereaux is seen in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; he is shown to be a weary, fatalistic UniSol who has accepted his lack of humanity.
Like most UniSols, Devereaux displays considerable skill in hand-to-hand combat and proficiency with weapons. The most significant attribute of the UniSols is their resilience; they are capable of physical feats far beyond the capability of the strongest human and can withstand considerable physical punishment (whether from gunfire, stabbing, beatings, etc.). Serious injuries such as bone fractures and organ injury do not induce pain and only slightly affect flexibility. However, they are not invincible; explosives, bombs or corrosive agents, while still not especially dangerous, are the most effective weapons against them. Introduced later in the series is the transplanting of limbs, such as arms or legs, to replace damaged ones, with no ill effects.
What sets Devereaux apart from other UniSols (with the possible exception of Andrew Scott) is his latent human qualities. The average UniSol has no real intelligence or self-sufficiency, and only acts when ordered to do so. Once the government's control of him is interrupted, Devereaux is shown to be capable of thinking for himself and even remembers bits and pieces of his past. He also regains basic human senses such as smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Regeneration implies that full rehabilitation is extremely difficult, if not impossible; though Devereaux makes considerable progress in the area of emotion, it is almost too easy for him to fall back into the relentless UniSol mentality.