Deathstroke is once again off-limits for Arrow, according to co-showrunner Marc Guggenheim. Slade Wilson used to be an incredibly important part of Oliver Queen's world. Slowly, though, the character's presence diminished to near non-existence. Yet, Manu Bennett was able to return to Arrow in the season 5 finale, as well as an abbreviated season 6 arc. Evidently, though, that will be the last time fans can get to see that iteration of the character for awhile.
This isn't the first time that Arrow has been told characters are off-limits by DC. The show had obvious plans to build a Suicide Squad arc surrounding the character of John Diggle. There were even hints of Harley Quinn being introduced to the show, at one point. Those plans were then halted when David Ayers' Suicide Squad movie was put into production. Now, Arrow has run into another similar production roadblock with Deathstroke.
At ACE Comic Com, Discussing Film interviewed Arrow co-showrunner Marc Guggenheim. When the topic of Deathstroke appearing again on Arrow was breached, Guggenheim responded:
These are DC’s characters, we’re just renting them ya know, so we use the characters that they tell us we can use when we can use them, and we work around whatever limitations that places us ... For a time they were saying ‘you can’t use Deathstroke’, and that changed and we were able to have Slade Wilson back on the show, and now we’re back to ‘you can’t use him’. They’re working on the feature film version, it really is sort of now that you’ve got obviously Slade, spoiler alert, Deathstroke appears at the end of the Justice League movie.
Guggenheim's comments are about as blunt as can be imagined. The reason Arrow fans won't be able to see Manu Bennett is because of the DC cinematic universe. With Joe Manganiello becoming Slade Wilson on the big screen, there's no room for a televised Deathstroke.
It's all a bit strange, though. Mainly, DC and Warner Bros. haven't exactly been consistent in which characters can and can't be used by the Arrowverse. In addition to Guggenheim saying that availability to Deathstroke has been a revolving door, there are much more obvious examples. Grant Gustin as Barry Allen leads his own TV series but there's another Flash in the DC film franchise played by a completely different actor. There's also the matter that Superman is a supporting character in Supergirl. It seems strange that Deathstroke, of all characters, is being singled out.
If any character should be able be open to multiple interpretations it's a smaller one like Slade. It would be understandable if two Superman or Flash versions were too confusing but not a character like Deathstroke. That said, Deathstroke being less well-known could be the reason why DC feels the need to limit the character's appearances. There's already enough confusion between Deathstroke and (the much better known) Deadpool.
The one solace that fans can take is that Arrow did manage to give Slade Wilson a send-off in season 6. Deathstroke parted ways with his on-again and off-again archenemy, Oliver Queen, to locate his son, Grant. Deathstroke's most recent Arrow episode did imply that the character could be back. Still, the episode does work as a farewell, even if it's a retroactive one. Hopefully though DC will reverse their decision (again) soon.
Arrow returns January 18 with ‘Divided’ on The CW.
Source: Discussing Film