Just as the dust seemed to be settling after the surprisingly top-level cast of DC and Warner Bros.' Suicide Squad was revealed, more rumors and tantalizing details have arrived to stir it back up. At present, we've heard word that not only would Suicide Squad seek to launch a solo Batman movie directly, but that the film was being constructed as a means to introduce several villains destined for antagonist roles in the rest of DC's superhero franchises.
Wherever the deadliest DC villains are discussed, Deathstroke isn't too far behind - and now, he's finally joined the Suicide Squad conversation.
The stunning word that 'Deathstroke the Terminator' may be included within the film comes amidst a flurry of (somewhat contradictory) details, but sources of CinemaBlend confirm the mercenary has a role to play. As evidence of just how much salt should be taken with the story, it was Gary Sinise (CSI: NY) who was first mentioned in relation to the role, later tied to the role of General Wade Eiling (a looming military figure referred to simply as 'The General').
Sinise does, indeed, seem to have joined the film, but his role is still unclear. As for the part of Deathstroke, the site reports that Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike) - previously in contention for Man of Steel's Superman - may be a frontrunner.
Manganiello and writer/director David Ayer are already well-acquainted (the True Blood star having recently lent his talents to Ayer's Sabotage), and there's little doubt he would jump at another opportunity to join forces. The actor explained to EURnews last year that after screen testing for director Antoine Fuqua's Training Day back in 2001, it was David Ayer's script that left the most lasting impression:
"They talk about addicts chasing that first high, and I think that for the past 13 years I’ve been trying to find another script that was as good, and [has given me] as visceral a response to it the way Training Day did."
Even with that enthusiasm, fans shouldn't get their hopes up just yet (that includes Manganiello, who's likely starving for a DC Comics role at this point), as Ayer's recent projects seem to be fueling the rumor mill of late. Not without good reason: when Tom Hardy had to pass on the part of Rick Flag it was Ayer's End of Watch star Jake Gyllenhaal who was sought to replace him (having since passed on the role).
Now comes word that The Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal (coming off of Ayer's acclaimed Fury) is being looked to for the part of Flag, as well as Exodus' Joel Edgerton (mentioned in too many superhero casting discussions to count). Add Manganiello to the mix, and it seems the director has a soft spot for recent collaborators.
Not that Manganiello wouldn't bring exactly what any live action take on Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke would require; at 6'5" and sporting the physique of a comic book superhero (not to mention the greying stubble), he's about as close to a flesh-and-blood version of the mercenary as an actor could get. But at this point, it's unclear if the character would be introduced as an antagonist, a brief cameo, or even a potential lead for a future Suicide Squad film.
The good news is that few are as well-equipped to tease what Ayer's "Dirty Dozen with supervillains" will resemble as Manganiello, and he let his praise for the director's vision on Sabotage flow when speaking with EW:
"David lets you fly your freak flag as big as you want... David told me going in, ‘You can be as mean as you want. You can be as nasty as you want. You can be as bad as you want. It’s my job to pull you back.’ So the first day of shooting, in an improv, I pulled a machete on an extra. David came up to me and was like, ‘Okay. So, I love it. But we have to worry about people falling on the machete and dying.’ So pretty much anything south of pulling a machete on an unsuspecting extra. And hell, I think that was the take. So I think even that goes."
However much of Deathstroke or Rick Flag ends up in the final film, with the likes of Harley Quinn, Boomerang and the Joker on hand, there will be more than enough freak flags to fly if Ayer gets his way.
What do you make of these new rumors? Is it a pleasant surprise to see Bernthal and Edgerton's names put forward, or is the prospect of Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke the biggest bombshell yet? Sound off in the comments.
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.