JUSTICE LEAGUE Star Joe Manganiello Says DC Studios’ James Gunn Has Told Him To “Let [Deathstroke] Go”

There was a time when Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke was being lined up for a huge role in the DCEU. Original plans called for the villain to learn Batman’s secret identity in Justice League‘s post-credits scene (courtesy of Lex Luthor), setting the stage for them to clash in The Batman

Plans changed when Ben Affleck decided not to direct the movie and Joss Whedon’s Justice League reshoots saw Slade Wilson enlisted to the “Injustice Society” instead. For a time, there were even rumblings about a Deathstroke spin-off helmed by The Raid‘s Gareth Evans.

Manganiello has shared his interest in reprising the role in the new DCU on several occasions, but it appears the actor has now thrown in the towel. 

“James [Gunn] is my buddy, and James and I had a conversation about it because Jim Lee over at DC Comics wanted me to create a graphic novel series based on the screenplay that I wrote for the Deathstroke origin film,” he tells ComicBook.com.

“When they were dismantling the DCEU, that went to the wayside as well,” Manganiello continued. “Jim read it, and wanted it to be a graphic novel series, but no one could assure me that, if it garnered the attention of directors and producers, that I couldn’t be attached. So I had to let it go. James Gunn was just like, ‘Let it go.'”

It’s worth pointing out that Gunn appears to have told the actor to let the movie go, and not necessarily the role itself. Well, we think that’s the case, anyway, as the site’s transcription isn’t the easiest to follow!

Either way, we’d say Manganiello is done as Slade as DC Studios looks to move on from the DCEU. For the most part, the only actors to have survived the DCU transition are those cast by Gunn and Blue Beetle star Xolo Maridueña (who starred in a movie that felt largely standalone from the DCEU). 

Gunn has also teased having his own plans for Deathstroke in the DCU and we’re guessing those don’t involve Manganiello.

In the comics, Deathstroke is a highly skilled mercenary and assassin who was originally introduced as an adversary to the Teen Titans. Known for his exceptional combat abilities, enhanced strength, agility, and intellect, as well as his tactical genius, Slade possesses a regenerative healing factor that enhances his durability and longevity.

Despite his status as a villain, Deathstroke is often depicted as an anti-hero, with a complex moral code and a sense of honor. His motivations vary, but he is typically driven by a desire for power, wealth, or personal vendettas.