After much speculation, it was officially unveiled that not only would the character of Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, be the main villain in Ben Affleck’s forthcoming Batman solo film, but he’d be played by Joe Manganiello (an actor once considered for the role of Superman, if you can believe it). It’s been the biggest piece of news about the solo Batman film since learning the movie was actually, officially happening and that Affleck himself would direct from a script he’s co-written with Geoff Johns.
And having Deathstroke serve as Batman’s main antagonist does inform about the direction this solo Batman movie is heading, moving away from the cosmic, other-worldly threats of Justice League to a villain who’s more human (though not without enhancements) and still dangerous. Deathstroke is probably best known for working as a mercenary, so it’s quite possible he won’t be tangling with Batman over any personal grudge or vendetta, but for a paycheck. That’s certainly a twist from the usual go-to Bat-villain, The Joker, and may help to make Affleck’s Batman film stand apart from the many others.
Your guess is as good as ours when it comes to just how and why Deathstroke is menacing Affleck’s Batman, but Manganiello is making sure he has all of his bases covered. Tweeting earlier today, Manganiello shared a pair of photos, each tagged #research and featuring a slew of Deathstroke merchandise and comics. Take a look, below:
It’s a bit of a stretch to call all those Deathstroke action figures “research”; the comics, however, are more in line with what we’ve seen from other actors cast in superhero roles — most recently, Brie Larson brushing up on her Captain Marvel. And by looking through Manganiello’s stack of comics we can see that he’s attempting to get a grasp on just who Deathstroke is through a variety of his solo titles, from his first solo series, Deathstroke The Terminator to more recent solo outings in The New 52 and Rebirth. We can also see collected editions of Identity Crisis, which has Deathstroke battle the entire Justice League of America, and Godkiller, in where Deathstroke fights Wonder Woman and Superman. Those titles hint at a Deathstroke appearance in Justice League more than anything else, but it’s the inclusion of Batman: Earth One Vol 2 that’s most puzzling. Perhaps its inclusion hints at the sort of Batman story Affleck and Johns are telling (Johns did write Batman: Earth One, after all).
But of all those Deathstroke comics, the most telling might be the collection of Deathstroke The Terminator that includes the arc, “City of Assassins” by Marv Wolfman and Steve Erwin. It’s here that Deathstroke and Batman have one of their first encounters when Deathstroke comes to Gotham to find out who is assassinating the city’s mob bosses. A story of this nature would allow the Batman solo film to be more like a hard-boiled detective story, something fans are eager to see, and have it to exist on a smaller scale than either Batman V Superman or Justice League.
What do you think, Deathstoke fans? Can you suss out what might bring Deathstroke face to face with the Dark Knight based off Manganiello’s comic book haul? Let us hear what you think in the comments!
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman solo movie, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without a release dates.