After a long stretch of official quiet and rampant rumors, the announcements on the next solo Batman film suddenly seem to keep dropping: first we got word that classic DC Comics villain Deathstroke would be the Dark Knight’s main nemesis, followed by the revelations that the movie is currently scheduled to release in some 18 months and that actor Joe Manganiello had been cast as the baddie, and, finally, sealed by the solo outing’s official name – The Batman.
Just because it pours when it rains (yes, even in Gotham), Ben Affleck has yet another tidbit to dole out: the rationale behind Deathstroke’s inclusion in the upcoming film.
“He’s a great villain because – I just had an instinctive feeling that he would match up with [Batman] well,” the director/actor/co-writer recently told Collider. “You know, I’m a big admirer of that character, as well, especially in The New 52, the way that they did Deathstroke, and I thought that it could work.”
What’s interesting to note in how the two characters “could work” is that the DC Extended Universe filmmakers are taking the same tack in how they introduce both the hero and the villain: Affleck’s Caped Crusader officially debuted in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, appearing again both in Suicide Squad and Justice League before finally getting his own solo outing in late 2018; Deathstroke will likewise see his grand introduction arriving in Justice League before getting the chance to fully shine in The Batman.
But the similarities don’t stop there. Affleck’s mentioning of the (recently-ended) New 52 publishing initiative is telling: in that particular take on the character, Slade Wilson has already been carrying the moniker of Deathstroke for several years, becoming renowned as one of the best mercenaries in the world – just as Batman v Superman finds Bruce Wayne having already worn the cape and cowl for a full 20 years. When combined with actor Joe Manganiello’s age – he’ll be 40 in just a few short months, making him some three-and-a-half years younger than Ben Affleck – audiences should expect to see two older, grizzled, at-the-top-of-their-game adversaries duking it out, making it a far cry from the protagonist-antagonist relationship depicted in all seven previous Bat-films.
There’s also plenty of potential for these parallels to become dark reflections, as well. Once again heading back to The New 52, Deathstroke’s opening story arc sees him being paired with a team of young mercs called the Alpha Dogs. While this may first seem to be yet another similarity with the DCEU’s Batman, who helps to form his own team of younger superheroes that he is, presumably, at the head of, the comic story quickly takes a turn: the senior killer-for-hire betrays his teammates, killing them all in a show of force to his clients that he’s more than capable of doing whatever task is at hand all by his lonesome. Coming just out of Justice League, Part I, including such a plot beat would be particularly resonant – and it would make The Batman something truly separate from every other cinematic or television incarnation of the character.
Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without a release dates.