Joe Manganiello Talks Ben Affleck’s Batman Movie and ‘Justice League’

by Chris Foti
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Article by Chris Foti

A couple of months ago, several actors joined Zack Snyder for additional photography on Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Among those actors, was Joe Manganiello, who will be playing Deathstroke in the film. The character appeared in the theatrical cut, in a post-credits scene with Lex Luthor, and the actor has now shed light that it was supposed to lead into his appearance in Ben Affleck’s now canceled The Batman.

Way back, before Zack Snyder stepped away from Justice League, Ben Affleck was also slated to write, direct and star in a solo Batman film. Affleck released test footage of Manganiello in the Deathstroke costume as a tease of what was meant to come.

In a recent interview, Manganiello discussed what Affleck’s The Batman would’ve been like, saying it would have a strong David Fincher vibe.

There were similarities to The Game.

While it’s possible other Batman villains would’ve made appearances, it definitely seems like Deathstroke was the main threat of the film.

It was a really dark story in which Deathstroke was like a shark, or a horror movie villain that was dismantling Bruce’s life from the inside out. It was this system thing: He killed everyone close to Bruce and destroyed his life to try and make him suffer, because he felt that Bruce was responsible for something that happened to him.

When The Batman was still Affleck’s film, the rumor was that it would heavily revolve around Arkham Asylum. With confirmation that Deathstroke was the main villain, who knows how true that was, but, it’s possible Deathstroke would’ve orchestrated a mass breakout to mess with Batman.

Deathstroke vs. The Batman

Manganiello also confirms that the post-credits scene of the theatrical Justice League was originally shot with Zack Snyder as a lead in to The Batman. Deathstroke and Luthor discussed what to do about Batman, which would’ve set plans into motion.

After Joss Whedon took over as director, he kept Deathstroke’s footage and re-shot Eisenberg’s Luthor lines to set up a second Justice League film.

I thought that scene was gone, but [producer] Jon Berg called me up and said, “We’ve reworked the scene and put it back in.” I was as surprised as anybody!

They reshot all of Jesse’s dialogue to tease Justice League Part 2, which was going to be about the Injustice League. All of that dialogue was about Batman originally, and it was changed to lines like “Shouldn’t we have a league of our own?”

Snyder’s original plan was for Darkseid to be the lead villain of Justice League Part 2, so the idea of the Injustice League being the threat was purely Whedon’s.

Deathstroke’s New Look

Of course, due to the critical and financial failure of Justice League, a sequel never happened. Affleck stepped away from The Batman, which is now a Matt Reeves film in a separate continuity. Deathstroke, as played by Joe Manganiello, was supposed to get a solo film, but that also never happened.

Manganiello’s Deathstroke will live again, however, in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Zack called me one day and asked, “How’d you like to do it again?” So I said, “Sure, man, I’ll be there.” And he told me “Okay, we’re getting your armor out of storage in England, and we’re going to fly it over here. Is there anything you want to do different?”

Of course, Manganiello had some ideas he wanted to do with Deathstroke that he never got the chance to do.

Some of those elements I snuck into this round. The greatest warriors are the ones who walk into battle already dead or assuming that they’re going to die – they’re looking for someone who could actually kill them. There’s almost excitement around that, like “Is today going to be the day?” So there was a climatic moment in my standalone story where I wanted Slade to shave his head into this war-like Mohawk knowing that he was going off to his own death. I said to Zack, “I always envisioned him with a big white Mohawk” and he was totally down for it.

Will The Terminator Be Back?

Despite being in development hell the past few years while DC and WB figured out what to do with the DCEU, Manganiello is hopeful that Zack Snyder’s Justice League will spark new life into a standalone film.

Hopefully this will reinvigorate interest from the fans as far as wanting to see this version of the character get told. We landed on an origin story that everyone I’ve ever pitched it to as gone crazy for. There’s been so many versions of this character over the years, and I wanted to put my own stink on him.

Joe Manganiello will be in Zack Snyder’s Justice League as the Terminator Deathstroke when it comes to HBO Max in 2021.

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