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Arrow's Executive Producer Hints That Deathstroke Won't Face Ben Affleck's Batman

By Blair Marnell

Arrow's Executive Producer Hints That Deathstroke Won't Face Ben Affleck's Batman

One of the big surprises from the last season of Arrow was the return of Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. It had been understood that Deathstroke’s long absence was partially due to previously revealed plans for his turn as the main villain of The Batman. Joe Manganiello was cast as Deathstroke for the big screen, but he may not be in The Batman at all, according to a new interview with Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim.

While speaking with Collider, Guggenheim indicated that Deathstroke’s Arrow comeback came about because he was no longer a part of the DC Extended Universe’s agenda. “DC controls these characters, and we went through a period where DC was like, ‘We’ve got plans for Deathstroke that don’t involve Arrow,’” said Guggenheim. “That changed at the end of the year, though.”

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised. Deathstroke may be one of the few villains who can actually challenge Batman physically and mentally, but he’s never really been a Batman bad guy. DC’s Geoff Johns and Ben Affleck supposedly wrote a script for The Batman that gave Deathstroke a huge role, back when Bat-Fleck was still going to direct himself in the movie. But since Matt Reeves took over as the new director, the old script is out and it’s anyone’s guess if Affleck will actually star in the movie at all.

This may be a big missed opportunity to make Deathstroke into an A-list character. Casual fans may know Deathstroke from Arrow and the Teen Titans Go! animated series, but that’s far from the exposure that he could have received as the new nemesis for Batman. One of the most refreshing things about Slade Wilson is that he isn’t strictly a villain. He’s a mercenary, he’s ruthless, and he’s extremely smart. But he’s also got his own sense of honor, and he can even be heroic under the right circumstances. Let’s put it this way: a fully realized Deathstroke can carry his own movie. And that could have happened if he had been in The Batman.

The upside is that Bennett’s take on Deathstroke was one of the best things about the first two seasons of Arrow. Having Slade back, even on a recurring or guest star basis, opens up a lot of story possibilities. Oliver and Slade have been best friends and at each other’s throats. Now, they’re more or less on the same side again. We also know that Arrow has already cast Liam Hall as Deathstroke’s son, Joseph Wilson. (Joe is Jericho in the comics). The big question is whether Slade and Oliver can repair their friendship or if they will inevitably become enemies again. A redemption arc for Deathstroke could be very entertaining, but it would be hard to argue with a compelling story that once again makes him the most dangerous man in Star City. Arrow has always had a bit of Nolan-esque flavor, so if we can’t get Deathstroke in the DC movies then getting him back on this TV series isn’t a bad consolation prize. Not at all.

Images: The CW, DC Comics