If there are two words that are most often used to describe the current state of the DC Extended Universe, it’s probably “polarizing” and “divisive.” Between Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, it’s almost impossible to find any one aspect that is universally derided or acclaimed. This is in stark contrast to many other comic book movies where audiences find far more common ground. Spider Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, and basically any Fantastic Four movie, while they have their apologists, are generally accepted as failed movies, while The Dark Knight, Avengers, and now Logan and many others are all accepted as successes.
That’s what makes Joe Manganiello’s recent comments about The Batman in RI Magazine really intriguing. After recently saying that “no one wants to create that superhero movie that’s polarizing to fans and critics”, Joe has come out in another interview to say that he actually hopes his performance as Deathstroke is polarizing:
“This is my character, an exciting one, and has the capacity I think, to be a great villain. And what all the great ones can do is polarize an audience. When I was a kid I always rooted for the villain. As a kid I think I would have rooted for him and I think fans will.”
While he uses the same word twice here, it’s obviously in very different contexts, as seen by his follow up saying he rooted for the villain as a kid. So, Joe clearly doesn’t want audience reception of his character to be divided, but he does hope it spurs some fans to root for his villain, as they often do for some of the greater villains.
Manganiello clearly has an appreciation for the character and knows fans do as well. In another interview with Total Film he mentions more specifically how he hopes Deathstroke accomplishes this:
“these characters mean so much to so many people and there’s a real opportunity to polarise an audience or have them walk away maybe not agreeing with my character but understanding why he does what he does. That’s a really fun challenge.”
The Batman won’t be the True Blood actor’s first comic book movie, as he famously played Flash Thompson in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, but this is the first lead role he’s taken, even though he’s apparently had the opportunity to play both good guys and bad guys on several occasions in the past, telling RI Magazine:
“There were a lot of superhero and supervillain roles that came my way and my gut said those were not the right fit for me. This one was perfect. This was exactly what I was looking for.”
Based on Manganiello’s extensive preparation, that does appear to be the case. In addition to the standard physical training and bulking up the DCEU is known for, he’s also bee learning multiple types of martial arts and practicing with katanas. Now that Matt Reeves is officially confirmed to direct The Batman, DC fans can begin to let their mouth water as they think of what DC’s Deadliest Assassin will do in the hands of the man that made a movie featuring a chimpanzee riding a horse through flames while dual-wielding automatic rifles.
Many fans may point out that a popular version of Deathstroke has already appeared in live-action on Arrow, and Manu Bennett’s portrayal would be described by many fans similarly to how Joe sees his own incarnation, but Manganiello wants to come up with his own inspiration: “Yeah, I guess there was a TV show but I haven’t seen it. I won’t watch it”