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Later this year, moviegoers will follow along with Task Force X’s latest cinematic adventure in The Suicide Squad, which Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn wrote and directed. Before Gunn came aboard, what was initially referred to simply as Suicide Squad 2 cycled through several directors and various storylines. As it turns out, many of these early versions of the sequel included Joe Manganiello’s Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke, who we will soon reunite with in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
While speaking about his participation in the Snyder Cut on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Joe Manganiello revealed that he was being considered for the sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad, which Fury’s David Ayer wrote and directed. In Manganiello’s words:
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… It never came to fruition.
While Deathstroke is best known in DC Comics lore as an enemy to superheroes like Batman and the Teen Titans, he does have ties to the Suicide Squad in the comics, having served on the team in the New Suicide Squad series that was published during the New 52 era. So there would be precedence for him appearing in a Suicide Squad movie, and it had even been rumored that Deathstroke would show up in Task Force X’s DC Extended Universe debut. Joe Manganiello didn’t clarify whether Deathstroke would have been part of the team in Suicide Squad 2 or one of the main antagonists, but either way, things just didn’t work out.
Of course, Suicide Squad 2 wasn’t the only movie Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke was being lined up to appear in. Back when The Batman was intended to be a starring vehicle for Ben Affleck’s iteration of the Caped Crusader, the one-eyed mercenary would have been the main antagonist, and the original post-credits scene for Justice League set up their conflict (as opposed to teased the formation of the Injustice League). There was also a Deathstroke solo movie announced that The Raid’s Gareth Evans would have directed, but that project ended up being scrapped. According to Manganiello, this was because Warner Bros felt it wasn’t a priority to make “a $40 million movie about a villain origin story in which you show the backstory,” which is ironic considering how the Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker ended up performing.
So clearly Joe Manganiello’s time as Deathstroke didn’t go the way he expected, but he was finally given the chance to reprise the character in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which comes on HBO Max (which you can sign up for with this link) March 18. Manganiello took part in the Snyder Cut’s additional filming last October, rocking a new haircut that was inspired by his original treatment for the Deathstroke movie. Like Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker, Deathstroke will be part of the Knightmare, i.e. the looks into the apocalyptic future where Darkseid has conquered Earth.
As for who is participating in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, along with the return of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, we’ll meet folks like Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, John Cena’s Peacemaker, Peter Capaldi’s Thinker, Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2 and David Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man, among many others. Gunn is also making a Peacekeeper spinoff series before he heads back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
You’ll be able to watch The Suicide Squad in theaters and on HBO Max starting August 6. Head to our DC movies guide to learn what other DC cinematic offerings are primed for the coming years.