It's no secret that the DCEU was changed forever after the disappointing theatrical outing of Justice League back in 2017, forcing the studio to re-evaluate its plans for the franchise. This led to the complete shutdown of the so-called Snyderverse era, giving uncertain futures to projects such as Ben Affleck's The Batman and characters like Henry Cavill's Superman.
While plans have changed since then, as evidenced by the continued development of The Batman through Matt Reeves and the restoration of Zack Snyder's Justice League, there are still a wide array of DC characters whose fates have yet to be addressed, and one of them is Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke.
The villain was first seen in the post-credits scene of Justice League, but the character hasn't popped up in any DCEU project since that moment. However, this will all change when Manganiello makes his triumphant return in Zack Snyder's Justice League, with the actor playing a key role in the much-talked-about Knightmare sequence.
As fans await Slade Wilson's return, a new interview has shed some light on the original plan of Warner Bros. for the character.
JOE MANGANIELLO OPENS UP ABOUT THE DCEU'S DEATHSTROKE
Joe Manganiello recently sat down with Josh Horowitz in a new episode of the Happy.Sad.Confused podcast via The Hollywood Reporter, and one of the topics that was discussed was his role as the DCEU's Deathstroke.
The veteran actor revealed that Deathstroke was included in the sequel to David Ayers' Suicide Squad, and this was way before James Gunn's takeover of the franchise:
“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.”
Manganiello also unveiled plans for a Deathstroke solo film back then, but the actor shared the unfortunate story of the project being scrapped because “it was not seen as a priority:”
“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.”
Moving over to Zack Snyder's Justice League, Manganiello seemingly teased that Slade is “going to die like a warrior” in a “borderline suicide mission” in the film:
"In the end of the film I always envisioned him shaving his head into some kind of warlike, borderline suicide mission, 'This is it, I'm going to die like a warrior. I explained that to Zack, and he said, 'Great, let's do it.'"
Despite a rollercoaster journey, Manganiello is still excited about Deathstroke's future in a potential Snyderverse restoration down the line:
"I think there's going to be excitement over continuing what Zack was up to."
WILL WE SEE MORE OF DEATHSTROKE AFTER ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE?
Based on Manganiello's comments, it should very well indicate that Deathstroke was a major part of the DCEU in the pre-Whedon cut era. The behind-the-scenes journey of the character appears to be a missed opportunity for the franchise, and it's unfortunate that viewers weren't given a chance to see entertaining character beats between the villain and other heroes such as Batman and Superman.
The reveal that Deathstroke would've been included in David Ayer's sequel to Suicide Squad is no doubt a game-changer, and the character's inclusion in that film could've changed the complexion of the franchise entirely. It would've been exciting to see Slade Wilson duke it out against the entire Task Force X, and sharing scenes with Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn would've been a sight to see.
The scrapped Deathstroke origin film that Manganiello teased could've been a visual treat for many DC fans, mainly because of the character's popularity. Still, given that the DCEU is embracing its multiverse concept, there's always a chance that this movie will be revived in some form down the line.
On the surface, it seems that Zack Snyder's Justice League is the only remaining project to properly introduce Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke. Even though it will only be for a limited role in the Knightmare sequence, the actor's portrayal will still be showcased in a captivating fashion, and it will be interesting to see how it will unfold.