No cinematic universe has gone through more frequent changes than the DCEU. Although the franchise has arguably found its footing in recent months (particularly with the strong reception to this year's Wonder Woman), numerous announcements and leaks that dazzled us one year ago are seemingly no longer on the table. One prime example of that is Ben Affleck's original test footage of Joe Manganiello as Slade Wilson for The Batman. One year removed from that awesome reveal, and now it looks deader than ever.
That quick video blew up the DC fandom when it first debuted one year ago. At that time, Ben Affleck was still in complete control of The Batman as its director, and it looked like he was going to bring a fantastic Deathstroke to life with Joe Manganiello playing the part. However, as we eventually discovered, many original elements of The Batman eventually fell apart, and DC went on to hire War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves to take on directing duties when Affleck stepped down. From there, Reeves allegedly overhauled The Batman's story (although we still have no idea what the core conflict will be), and now even Joe Manganiello doesn't know if he will appear in The Batman when it finally hits the big screen.
Although it no longer looks like it's going to happen, the prospect of Deathstroke standing as the central villain in the solo Batman movie offered up storytelling opportunities that we have seldom seen in a Batman film. As a physical and mental equal to Bruce Wayne (if not a superior, in some ways), Slade Wilson is the anti-Batman -- a ruthless killer who will do any job if the money is right. To have a character like that step up as the central antagonist in a Batman film would've helped The Batman stand apart from other entries in The Dark Knight's canon of cinematic outings, but alas, a new story apparently also means a new villain.
Although Ben Affleck's Twitter reveal of Deathstroke may no longer be valid, we can still definitely see a place for Joe Manganiello in the greater DCEU. His casting as Slade Wilson met with positivity from fans, and it seems likely that many wouldn't object to his continued presence in the DCEU. Because he apparently got fitted for Deathstroke armor over a year ago, there's always the possibility that he could end up playing a surprise secondary role in Justice League. Beyond that, with Suicide Squad 2 on the way, Amanda Waller's Task Force X will likely need some fresh blood. The beauty of a guy like Slade Wilson is that he is an endlessly malleable character, which means throwing out the original story for The Batman should not necessarily mean throwing him out with it.
Although it now looks like Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke will not be the main villain of the solo Batman movie, we will have to wait and see what the future holds for this character. For now, Ben Affleck's Batman will make his next appearance in the DCEU when Justice League debuts in theaters on November 17.
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