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DCEU Deathstroke Joe Manganiello had his movie future all written out - so much that Jim Lee wanted it as a comic

Just like Elsa, he had to "Let it Go."

Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke in Justice League
Image credit: Warner Bros.

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As Warner Bros' DC film universe prepares for a reboot at the hands of James Gunn, it seems that the repercussions of that are being felt even beyond the box office. After multiple failed attempts to use the actor, Joe Manganiello’s turn at Deathstroke seems to finally be a thing of the past. The actor has walked away from his final project with the character, a graphic novel origin story, at the behest of Gunn himself.

Since he first appeared in the closing moments of Justice League, Manganiello’s Deathstroke has been one of the biggest victims of the constant state of flux the DC films have been in. He was meant to play the villain opposite Ben Affleck in The Batman until that movie was canceled. Then the actor turned in a screenplay for a Deathstroke movie that had some momentum before the shared universe collapsed in on itself.

There was still hope for that screenplay, until recently. Manganiello spoke to about what finally brought his time as Deathstroke to an end. Turns out, James Gunn helped talk him down.

“James [Gunn] is my buddy and James and I had a conversation about it because Jim Lee over at DC Comics wanted me to create a graphic novel series based on the screenplay that I wrote for the Deathstroke origin film that, when they were dismantling the DCEU, that went by the wayside as well. Jim read it and wanted it to be a graphic novel series but no one could assure me that, if it garnered the attention of directors and producers, that I couldn’t be attached. So I had to let it go. James Gunn was just like, ‘Let it go.’”

It is sad that the passion Manganiello clearly had for Deathstroke couldn’t translate into another go at portraying him or even give the actor some closure by making use of his screenplay. Like so many other DC projects, it remains a casualty of the decision to start from scratch with Gunn’s Superman: Legacy in 2025.

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