Over the course of Arrow's run on The CW, Manu Bennett's Slade Wilson has been one of the most beloved villains/heroes/anti-heroes of the bunch. However, Deathstroke has arguably suffered the most because The Emerald Archer's solo series hasn't been able to use him consistently. The character recently made a triumphant return in Seasons 5 and 6, but now it looks like Arrow has once again lost legal access to him following the debut of Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke at the end of Justice League. Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim addressed this issue, explaining:
Yeah, I think you know as a result we've been on and off. For a time they were saying 'you can't use Deathstroke', then that changed and we were able to have Slade Wilson back on the show, and now we're back to 'you can't use him'. They're working on the feature film version, it really is sort of now that you've got obviously Slade, spoiler alert, Deathstroke appears at the end of the Justice League movie.
Characters in The CW's Arrow-verse have often played second fiddle to their big screen counterparts, which means shows like Arrow have had to sit and wait for fan-favorites to become available when the movies are no longer using them anymore. We saw this during Season 3 of Arrow when the Task Force X was taken off of the board because of the impending release of David Ayer's Suicide Squad, which eliminated our shot at seeing Harley Quinn, and the same thing has now happened again because of the Justice League post-credits scene that introduces Joe Manganiello's version of Deathstroke into the DCEU. So while Manu Bennett's version of Slade got to come back for the explosive Lian Yu cliffhanger and its aftermath in Seasons 5 and 6 of Arrow, he's apparently not coming back for the foreseeable future.
Despite the limitations that Arrow now faces because of this Deathstroke situation, Marc Guggenheim also said during his appearance at ACE Comic Con (via Discussing Film) that the folks in the TV realm seem supportive of the film vision for Slade. More specifically, Guggenheim made sure to mention that Manu Bennett is reportedly a fan of Joe Manganiello, and that he's interested in seeing what the Magic Mike star does with the DC icon. Now it's a matter of time to see what he does as a possible member of the new silver screen Legion of Doom, as well as in his own Deathstroke solo movie.
What's interesting to note about these remarks is the fact that not every character is affected by this. While Deathstroke and Task Force X have both been removed from the Arrow-verse to make room for their silver screen counterparts, two very different versions of Barry Allen have been allowed to inhabit TV and film at the same time. It's unclear why The Flash gets away with this when other characters don't (maybe it' a Speed Force trick), but regardless, it doesn't change the fact that we should once again get used to not seeing Manu Bennett in the Deathstroke helmet for a while.
Arrow will return from its winter hiatus on The CW on Thursday, January 18, at 9 p.m. ET. Beyond Oliver Queen's solo series, you can also take a minute to check out our fall premiere guide and our midseason premiere guide to get a better sense of what's debuting over the next few months, as well as our cancellation guide to see what shows got the ax in 2017.