In the final moments of the perplexing chaos that was 2017’s Justice League, True Blood actor Joe Manganiello was introduced as supervillain Deathstroke, recruited by Lex Luthor for vengeance against the likes of Ben Affleck’s Batman. Indeed, a solo DCEU Deathstroke movie was in the works at Warner Bros, set to bring the iconic character’s origin story to life on the big screen, and The Raid director Gareth Evans was attached to direct.
“I was actually quite enthused and excited about [Deathstroke] back in the day, when it was first pitched to me,” recalled Evans with Yahoo while promoting his new Sky series, Gangs of London. “I met with them, and talked to them about it, and was certainly attached to it at a certain point.”
Unfortunately, Justice League had been plagued with problems, including the loss of Zack Snyder at the helm of the project midway through filming. As of last year, the DC team-up flick had the ‘honor’ of being the highest-grossing film to become a box office bomb, due to a combination of its huge budget – thought to be in the region of $300 million – and an ultimate gross that saw WB lose around $60 million. A proposed sequel was pushed aside for Affleck to star in his own Batman film, which never materialized, and the actor ultimately quit the role. As a result of these events and other factors, the studio began rethinking Snyder’s vision for the DCEU, and its plans for Deathstroke seemed to fritter out.
“I’ve spoken to Joe Manganiello, who was attached to star as Deathstroke,” Evans said. “I spoke to him a while back, and we both lamented the fact that it didn’t happen. But yeah, I don’t really have much more than that, in terms of anything lately on it.”
Evans still had some information to share about the solo movie that never was, however, saying he planned to keep Slade Wilson’s origin story pretty tight.
“The plan was, I wanted to tell something that would be a lean story, that would be kind of an origin of that character. Something that felt like it could be 100 minutes or 110 minutes long, max – not to go over the two hour period with it,” Evans explained. “Back then, I was massively influenced by the noir films coming out of South Korea, so that was my pitch. I was like, these films are amazing: the texture, and the tones of colors, the grit and the aggression of them is super interesting to use to tell Deathstroke‘s story.”
Despite not working on the project for too long, and not being a big comic book geek himself, the director had started doing some research on Deathstroke for further inspiration.
“I’ll be the first one to admit it, I’m not a massive comic book or superhero fan, but something about Deathstroke interested me. I did some reading into it – not enough to make real hardcore fanboys happy – but I tried my best to consume as much as I could in the time that I was on it, for a bit.”