The news surrounding the DC Extended Universe's first stand alone Batman movie may be hectic recently, with back and forth rumors about Ben Affleck stepping aside as director finally coming to fruition, leading to additional speculation as to his future (or lack thereof) with the movie. Even if everything is going great, as the most recent update suggests (check back in five minutes), it's hard to deny that efforts to build hype for The Batman movie have been an uphill battle.
It hasn't all been that way, though. Just a few months ago, Affleck thrilled fans with the surprise release of video featuring test footage for Deathstroke, a character nobody even knew would be making an appearance in the DCEU any time soon, followed shortly by confirmation that the one eyed assassin would be in The Batman played by Joe Manganiello.
Much to the pleasure of DC fans, Manganiello has expressed a commitment to the role, tweeting pictures of his "research" in preparation for his role and giving a shout-out to DC Entertainment President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, with Deathstroke fan art. While tweeting a picture of a stack of comic books and labeling it "research" might sound like textbook lip-service for fans, it appears Manganiello was more than serious. In a recent interview on the Dragon Talk podcast, he revealed the full extent of his studies:
"I’m somebody that likes to start preparing way ahead of time. So I’ve read almost all the comic books involving him. Just to get the information out of them. Some of them are useful. Some of them are not going to be useful. Because ultimately the script—that’s my text. I have to play that."
In addition to reading everything possible about the character, Manganiello has also shown a dedication to getting Deathstroke's physicality right, doing training with swords and studying many other forms of martial arts:
I started katana training recently. Like live sword training and I started meeting with various martial arts teachers and discussing with them. 'Ok, so what are the most offensive styles of martial arts'. Ones where you’re not waiting for someone to attack you but ones where you’re looking to make the attack. Then what are the most deadly ones? Where are the scrolls, the ancient Japanese scrolls that have these really deadly techniques that you don’t teach to the average student out the street? Something that only somebody who would go looking for it that are really really bad, you know, are dangerous. Like, what are those?
'Ok, so now what are the stances?' What are like some really unorthodox stances that someone who learns say Ninjutsu would stand in? Ok, so now what if that person lost an eye? If that person lost an eye how would they then alter the stance so that you would have better peripheral vision. What would that look like? So then you start cooking, and then you start building a story. Kind of outside-in. That’s like a very physical way to build a story."
Despite all of his reading and training, Joe clarifies that his performance will ultimately be dictated by The Batman script from Ben Affleck, Geoff Johns, and Chris Terrio:
Then on the other side of it, like I said, I’m looking at the script rather than the comic books. I mean the comic books are giving me a good general kind of area of what we’re talking about. Where this characters located. But the script is really like, you know. Because they might change the canon. There’s been like 3 or 4 different ways that he’s lost his eye. Are we doing one of those? Or are we doing it a completely new way? Like, I need to play that."
While the Magic Mike alum is no stranger to geek fare, having played Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (and Spider-Man 3) and the werewolf, Alcide Herveaux, on True Blood, this is the first role he's been able to sink his teeth into in this way, and fans will no doubt be thrilled by his words. With a face hidden behind Deathstroke's mask, Manganiello could easily outsource many of the more physical aspects of the character to a stunt double (which he likely will for some scenes), but his focus on getting every aspect of the character right means more than just finding the right voice. Deathstroke is the DC universe's deadliest assassin, so it's encouraging for fans to know that the man portraying the man under the mask may have actually undergone some of the same training as Slade Wilson.
Regardless of the state of The Batman, it's also refreshing to get news about the movie that not only doesn't revolve around Ben Affleck drama, but also shows that other people involved are passionate about making it a great movie.