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Entertainment Weekly


Joe Manganiello cast as Deathstroke in Ben Affleck's Batman movie

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; DC Comics

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Ben Affleck rattled comic fans everywhere last week when he tweeted footage of the classic DC antagonist Deathstroke, brought to life presumably for use in future DC superhero films. It turns out that wasn’t a fake-out: EW can confirm that Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello has been cast to play Deathstroke in Affleck’s upcoming solo Batman movie, though it’s unclear whether Manganiello’s Deathstroke will be the film’s only villain or if Jared Leto’s Joker will pop up as well. 

A longtime DC villain — first of the Teen Titans, and later of Green Arrow and Batman, among others — Deathstroke (a.k.a. Slade Wilson) is an ultra-skilled assassin. He’s actually a super soldier, similar to Marvel’s Captain America but with more emphasis on reflexes and battlefield strategy than super strength. This has made him a very qualified nemesis for Batman, another skilled fighter who makes up for his lack of superpowers with tactics and sharpened skills.

Visually, Deathstroke is defined by his orange and blue costume. It typically resembles some kind of mesh bodysuit but has apparently been transformed into full-fledged armor for the movies, judging by the footage Affleck teased. Half of his mask is always blacked out — because Deathstroke is so skilled he doesn’t care if his enemies know he has a missing eye. That mask is one of the very first visuals in the Arrow pilot, where it’s seen impaled on a sword on the island of Lian Yu (Arrow producer Marc Guggenheim told a fan on Tumblr back in February that Deathstroke probably wouldn’t be seen again on the show anytime soon since “the character of Slade Wilson is currently tied up in another DC project”)

Deathstroke has been somewhat of a favorite among various DC TV adaptations, having also appeared as the main antagonist of Cartoon Network’s mid-2000s Teen Titans cartoon (though he went just by “Slade” there). It’s also worth noting that Marvel’s Deadpool, the newest superhero superstar, originally started as a parody of Deathstroke (“Wade Wilson”/”Slade Wilson”). 

Affleck’s solo Batman film doesn’t have a release date yet, though it is expected between 2018 and 2020. Affleck will direct and co-write the script with Geoff Johns, a longtime DC comic writer recently promoted to oversee the movies.