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Joe Manganiello reveals why the Deathstroke solo movie never happened

Deathstroke
Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke Pic credit: Warner Bros

Actor Joe Manganiello has revealed why his character, Slade Wilson, aka, Deathstroke has not appeared more often on the big screen, despite his best efforts.

By now, Deathstroke the Terminator could have been in at least three different DC Extended Universe movies; but unfortunately, things just didn’t work out.

As his appearance in Justice League the Snyder Cut gets closer, Joe Manganiello has opened up about why things didn’t work out for his mercenary character and why he might have made more appearances in the DCEU beyond just one cameo.

Deathstroke plans

Created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in their classic New Teen Titans run, Slade Wilson is a soldier who took part in an experiment that enhanced his physical and mental abilities, turning him into Deathstroke. Now a freelance mercenary, Deathstroke works for the highest bidder and never fails an assignment. 

The character appeared in Arrow as a former friend turned enemy of Oliver Queen, played by Manu Bennett.

Deathstroke then appeared in the Titans TV show, where Esai Morales played him.

When Manganiello was cast as Deathstroke in 2016, he was earmarked to appear in Justice League and its sequels. The post-credits scene for the movie has Deathstroke meeting Lex Luthor to hear his suggestion for an evil League. 

Deathstroke was then to star in Zack Snyder’s Batman film, where Slade was supposed to embark on a brutal quest to destroy Batman. 

But when Snyder decided not to complete Justice League or make that Batman movie, the plans for Deathstroke in the DCEU were derailed. 

Joe Manganiello made solo film plans for Deathstroke

Speaking to the “Happy.Sad.Confused” podcast, Manganiello stated he was left hanging around for a full six months before being informed the Batman film was off. 

Manganiello was undaunted and decided to personally write his own treatment for an origin story on Deathstroke and he even managed to convince director Gareth Evans to sign on. 

However, a major shakeup at Warner Bros occurred, which led to Walter Hamada taking over as head of DCEU movies. According to Manganiello, Hamada axed the Deathstroke film for one reason:

When the dust settled, it was not seen as a priority to make a $40 million movie about a villain origin story in which you show the backstory,”

That observation is ironic given that 2019’s Joker, featuring a new origin of the iconic villain, became a box office hit that won Jared Leto the Oscar. 

Deathstroke in Suicide Squad?

James Gunn teases new DC project The Suicide Squad cast.
The Suicide Squad cast. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

This solo movie wasn’t the only flirtation Deathstroke had with the big screen. Before James Gunn signed on, various ideas for a Suicide Squad sequel would have involved Slade taking part.

Manganiello explained what happened with Deathstroke regarding Suicide Squad 2 on the Happy. Sad. Confused. podcast:

There were four or five different versions of Suicide Squad 2 that I was put on hold for, for dates, waiting for one actor to free up and we were going to go. And like that happened four or five times and never came to fruition…There was a Zak Penn script, then there was a Gavin [O’Connor] version. There was a with Will Smith, without Will Smith, there was just me and Will Smith. It just went on and on and on. Then, they re-did the end credits sequence to tease a Justice League 2 Injustice League for the bad guys that didn’t happen, clearly.

The Snyder Cut will restore a deleted sequence where Deathstroke breaks Luthor out of prison before their meeting in the stinger. 

Snyder’s Justice League sequel plans would have involved Deathstroke working with Luthor’s Legion of Doom to defeat the League. After Darkseid conquers Earth, Slade would ally with Batman to try to fix things.

Manganiello had his own idea to shave part of his head to give Deathstroke a more “warlike” appearance for a dangerous mission. 

As for any chance, the Snyder Cut leads to more Deathstroke, the actor said, “I think there’s going to be excitement over continuing what Zack was up to.”

Whether or not this leads to Deathstroke finally getting his own film, at least Manganiello is able to bring the character to life as he wanted. 

Justice League the Snyder Cut premieres on HBO Max on March 18.

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