Given the tumult surrounding the next Batman movie, the armored mercenary Deathstroke might not end up blasting and shooting his way through the Matt Reeves-directed film, but that’s okay. It could be better without Deathstroke.
Actor Joe Manganiello was initially cast as Deathstroke back in 2016, but the troubled production has gone through so many directors and script changes since that point that fans are wondering if the deadly mercenary is even still the main villain. Manganiello’s Deathstroke was first revealed in test footage last year, but that was back when Ben Affleck was still attached as the film’s director. Because the new director, Reeves, has said he is going to create a completely new story instead of working with the script written by Ben Affleck, Chris Terrio, and DC Film’s Geoff Johns, Deathstroke’s presence in the movie has been put into question.
DC hasn’t given any sort of official confirmation one way or another, and on July 28, Manganiello didn’t clear things up much when he spoke with The Hollywood Reporter.
Speaking to THR, he claimed that he does know whether he’s still in the next Batman movie, but “can’t say any of it.”
If Manganiello is still in the movie, he might not end up being Deathstroke. Which is honestly okay. Deathstroke not being the villain of the film could end up being the best thing for a film of its planned tone.
In June, Matt Reeves said that he was excited by the chance to do “an almost noir-driven, detective version of Batman that is point of view driven in a very, very powerful way.” And while this doesn’t differ too much from Ben Affleck’s original concept of a “detective” take on the Dark Knight, Deathstroke still isn’t necessarily the best antagonist to fit that tone.
Though his best stories feature some combination of manipulation, family, and conviction, which could lend themselves to a great “noir-driven” film, Deathstroke isn’t exactly the first Batman villain who comes to mind upon hearing that term. “Noir” in film makes one think of street level crime fiction, cynical characters, bleak settings. Someone like the Penguin aligns a little better with those connotations. Which is probably in part because, unlike Deathstroke, the Penguin is almost always specifically tied to Batman and the city of Gotham, the backdrop for so many noir tales. The Penguin’s even rumored to appear in the film played by Josh Gad.
If Manganiello does end up appearing in The Batman as Deathstroke, he’ll no doubt be very different than how he was conceived in the previous version of the film. So, either we’ll get the Deathstroke Matt Reeves deserves, the Deathstroke Matt Reeves needs, or a different villain all together.
Justice League will be released on November 17, 2017. The Batman is expected to premiere in 2019.