It may be a stretch to have Keanu Reeves cast as Deathstroke, but the skilled assassin himself deserves some time in the spotlight. Over the years, Deathstroke and his alter ego, Slade Wilson, have made numerous appearances in animated films, video games, and TV shows. However, his live-action film career paints a less prolific picture.
Deathstroke’s only live-action movie role has been a post-credits scene in 2017’s “Justice League,” where actor Joe Manganiello portrays him. In it, the character speaks with Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) about possibly starting a team. In the film’s 2021 director’s cut, Deathstroke learns of Batman’s (Ben Affleck) secret identity; he also appears working with the Dark Knight during a harrowing vision sequence. These snippets hinted at the character’s connection and rivalry with Batman, which would’ve come to a head in Ben Affleck’s unmade solo Batman film.
Their feud would have been more than a clear-cut battle between good and evil. According to Manganiello, his character blamed Batman for the death of his son and pursued the Caped Crusader as a result. “I wanted him to be just a man who experienced a tragedy,” Manganiello stated on a MANvGAME Twitch stream. “And instead of becoming this altruistic utopian who believed that people could be better, and a better society, he was just this nihilistic killer, and there was a line in the sand between the tactics that he was willing to use and the ones that Bruce was willing to use.”
Matt Reeves’ story might have overtaken Ben Affleck’s film since then, but the idea is still rich with potential. Should the director need a future villain that matches Batman’s physicality and fighting ability, they could always turn to Deathstroke.