Will Smith's Deadshot may not return for James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, and it should be Deathstroke who takes his spot. Even though Suicide Squad was far from a universally praised movie, one of the elements that almost everyone liked was Deadshot. The hitman had a touching personal storyline with his daughter, some great one-liners, and was a standout in the action scenes too. As such, Smith deciding to walk away from the sequel leaves Warner Bros. and DC Films in a difficult situation.
The loss of Deadshot and Smith will mean not having one of the two main stars of the original box office hit for the sequel, but Gunn is still expected to utilize Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn to maintain the star power, as well as a throughline. There is reportedly a possibility of recasting Deadshot so that he can still be involved in Suicide Squad 2, but that could be problematic. Smith is one of the most recognizable stars in all of Hollywood, and considering how well-liked his Deadshot was, the bar has been set high for anyone else who could possibly take on the role. Instead of recasting Smith or introducing a new DC character to fill the void, Warner Bros. could have the perfect replacement already with Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke.
Manganiello has only briefly made an appearance as Slade Wilson in the DC Extended Universe, thanks to Justice League's post-credits scene where he met Lex Luthor, but that hasn't stopped him from becoming a character fans are desperate to see more of. He is arguably perfect casting for the soldier turned assassin, which is why many were very excited about his DCEU future. The interest in Manganiello's take on Deathstroke has been around for years as he was reportedly in consideration to play Deathstroke for the first Suicide Squad film. Now that the team is in need of a soldier type character, Gunn should just circle back around to this idea and use Manganiello's Deathstroke in Suicide Squad 2.
The long-developing sequel to Suicide Squad is shaping up to be very different anyways, but this change can help maintain some smaller consistencies because Deathstroke is a perfect replacement for Deadshot. He is another non-superpowered assassin that Task Force X can use at their disposal, but also someone who can have a very personal story. The bonus with Deathstroke is he isn't just a gun specialist, and instead is a master of martial arts and highly skilled with a number of weapons. His potential as a major action lead is undeniable, and this switch would guarantee that Manganiello's potential with the role won't be wasted.
It also fits with how the Suicide Squad roster has worked in the comics, with the lineup constantly rotating to fit the mission. And, since this team operates with explosives in their heads that Amanda Waller can detonate if they mess up, there is even more turnover than a usual team. Deadshot's absence could even be simply explained as him not wanting to risk dying again (after getting visitation time with his daughter) and just letting his sentence pass. Meanwhile, Deathstroke could join the team after one of his own hits goes wrong or maybe even as part of his own master plan to bolster the Legion of Doom's ranks.
Deathstroke was originally set to be the villain of Ben Affleck's The Batman, have a solo movie directed by Gareth Evans, and be involved with a larger Legion of Doom storyline. All of that appears to be gone (or at least on the back burner at WB right now), but this is an obvious opportunity to finally use him in a greater capacity. It could be best for everyone involved, and Manganiello being friends with Gunn at least makes this switch a tad more likely. And if The Suicide Squad is a hit, then maybe Deathstroke or the Legion of Doom plans will become part of DC's future once more.
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