We don't know a whole lot of firm details about the upcoming solo Batman movie directed by Ben Affleck, but some of the pieces are starting to come together. We do know that Joe Manganiello is the playing the main villain Deathstroke in the movie and that he is already hard at work researching the character. It is the actor's recent research that may give us some clues as to what the movie may actually be about or what other surprises are coming in the DC Extended Universe.
On Tuesday, Joe Manganiello took to his Twitter account to post a couple of photos showing off his research materials for the role. While the first picture only included one book, Batman: Earth One, his second photo featured a huge pile of Deathstroke comics from seemingly every era. While it is super exciting that he seems to be digging in deep, it is also exciting because these books could be clues to what Ben Affleck has planned for us.
Now, before digging into what this pile of books could mean it is important to say that it looks like Joe Manganiello is taking this role very seriously and reading just about anything he can get his hands on. So, it is going to be pretty hard to nail down anything specific. But, we can do some reasonable speculation. Let's start with Batman: Earth One. The book was written by Geoff Johns, the man in charge of the DCEU right now, and it appeared in both pictures. The book takes place in an alternate version of the DC universe that features Penguin as the mayor and Alfred as a battle-hardened ex-Marine. Given that the current DCEU canon has already debunked certain elements of this story, it seems unlikely it would be the basis for anything in the upcoming Batman movie, but it is interesting that it is featured in both photos. Perhaps that book is more to nail down the tone that Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns are hoping to bring to the movie.
One of the most noteworthy books in the second photo is Identity Crisis, which is one of the highest selling DC Comic books of all time. The story is sprawling and involves a lot of the Justice League as well as a bunch of other DC rogues, but Deathstroke plays something of a pivotal role in the book. He is hired to protect the villain Doctor Light after he murders Elongated Man's wife Sue Dibny. This also isn't something that will likely have a direct bearing on the Batman movie, but it does show how capable and threatening Deathstroke is and could serve as a good indicator of what to expect from the character in the movie. It could also be that this will bear similarities to a potential Deathstroke cameo or scene in Justice League. Even though Doctor Light won't be in that movie, one of the other foes could hire Slade Wilson for protection and that could be our introduction to him before seeing him in the Batman movie.
Outside of those two huge titles, there were also a couple of volumes of Deathstroke: The Terminator from the 90s, which isn't much help, even if it is a well-liked run of comics. What is perhaps telling is the two volumes of Deathstroke from The New 52. In the first volume, Slade is trying to re-assert himself as the greatest mercenary in the world, which could lead to him taking on a crazy job to break in Arkham Asylum, a location we have heard will factor heavily into the plot of Ben Affleck's Batman movie. The second volume, Godkiller, sees Slade Wilson wielding a weapon capable of killing an "Olympian God," with many members of the Justice League getting in his way. So it is possible they are taking bits and pieces from these books and re-twisting the story elements to suit this new Batman movie.
Outside of that, it is worth noting that Joe Manganiello posted a volume of Teen Titans, whom Deathstroke is known to square off with very often. Could this be a tease to an eventual big screen Teen Titans as well? Maybe, but that could be a stretch. If nothing else, it is really cool to see this great pile of comics that is being used to inform the version of Deathstroke we will be seeing in the DCEU. While we still don't know exactly when Ben Affleck's Batman Reboot is coming, it was recently said by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes that the movie was about a year and a half away. We'll have to wait and see how much of a clue these books are in terms of future movie plots. You can check out the picture for yourself below.