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Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a week away from release, and one of the many ways it is distinguishing itself from the theatrical cut of the fifth DC Extended Universe movie is giving Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke more to do. Along with being one of the Teen Titans’ greatest foes, Slade Wilson has also fought Batman in the comics on many occasions, and Manganiello has confirmed that his version of Deathstroke includes an Easter egg referencing one of the Caped Crusader’s other notorious adversaries: Ra’s al Ghul.
There’s currently an exhibit open at the AT&T Discovery District in Dallas, Texas called the #SnyderCut Exhibit, which gives attendees a special look at memorabilia, such as costumes and storyboards from his DCEU movies Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, as well as what he had planned for two Justice League sequels. Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke suit is on display at the exhibit, and one fan noticed an interesting symbol on the mercenary’s sword:
Sure enough, MTV News’ Josh Horowitz verified that the symbol is indeed a reference to Ra’s al Ghul, leader of the League of Assassins (or League of Shadows, if we’re talking about the DC Animated Universe or Dark Knight trilogy), and Joe Manganiello confirmed this cool Easter egg with the following:
Although the DCEU has introduced many Batman villains over the years, from Jared Leto’s Joker (who’s also appearing in the Snyder Cut) to Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask, this symbol is our first indication that Ra’s al Ghul lives in this continuity. Ra's and Deathstroke have crossed paths a handful of times in the comics, and in the animated movie Son of Batman, the latter was depicted as once being the former's right-hand man until he was dismissed from the League for dishonorable actions, leading to Slade Wilson staging a coup d'état to take over the organization. Whether Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke trained under Ra’s or ran into him during one of his assignments, clearly there’s a connection between the two men.
Ra’s al Ghul was previously played in the cinematic realm by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, while on TV, Matthew Nable and Alexander Siddig played him in the Arrowverse and Gotham, respectively. For those of you interested in seeing the DCEU’s Ra’s, it might not be worth getting your hopes up, as the only place Ben Affleck’s Batman is next slated to appear following Zack Snyder’s Justice League is The Flash, and it’s extremely doubtful Ra’s will factor into that story. But hey, maybe we’ll get to see Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne tangle with Ra’s in a sequel to The Batman someday!
As for Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke, there was a period in time where big things were planned for him in the DCEU, including being The Batman’s main antagonist when that was still starring Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight, appearing in earlier versions of Suicide Squad 2 and getting his own movie. However, neither of those projects came to be, but at least Slade Wilson has more to do in Zack Snyder’s Justice League than he did in Justice League’s theatrical cut. In addition to his original post-credits scene being restored, Deathstroke will also appear in the movie’s Knightmare sequences.