One of the biggest missed opportunities for DCEU fans was when Joe Manganiello's take on Deathstroke was teased at the end of the theatrical cut of Justice League, and then never mentioned again. But for a long time, there were a lot of projects in the works featuring Deathstroke. In an interview with VanityFair, Manganiello revealed that there was an early version of James Gunn's upcoming The Suicide Squad that had Deathstroke fighting it out with Will Smith's Deadshot.
"There was incarnation after incarnation of Suicide II, involving me versus [Will Smith's character] Deadshot. So I went through a couple of years of that. And when the last one didn't go, then you just put it away. And you just say, 'It's over. That was it. I went through five flaming hoops, and it's not happening. We're putting it down.' And then Zack calls you up and says, 'Okay, let's go.'"
In David Ayer's original Suicide Squad, Smith's Deadshot was the closest thing to the central hero of the story. It makes a lot of sense for Deathstroke, who is a master assassin, to come to blows with Deathstroke, an equally capable rival assassin if the two were to ever meet.
Unfortunately, Deadshot was removed from The Suicide Squad after Gunn started work on his version of the movie, and Will Smith's place is now said to have been taken by Idris Elba in the role of Bloodsport. While a fight between Bloodsport and Deathstroke would have been interesting as well, that does not seem to be the direction in which Gunn wants to take the characters.
As far as Deathstroke is concerned, apart from being set to appear in The Suicide Squad, the character was also meant to be the central antagonist of the solo Batman movie that Ben Affleck was going to write, direct and star in at one point. Joe Manganiello was also in talks to star in a standalone Deathstroke movie, but as the actor explains, he instead had to be content with a reduced cameo during the end credits of Justice League.
"When the dust settled, it was not seen as a priority to make a $40 million movie about a villain origin story in which you show the backstory... There were four or five different versions of Suicide Squad 2 that I was put on hold for, for dates, waiting for one actor to free up and we were going to go. Then, they re-did the end credits sequence to tease a Justice League 2 Injustice League for the bad guys that didn't happen, clearly."
Written and directed by James Gunn, The Suicide Squad stars Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Joaquín Cosio, Juan Diego Botto, Storm Reid, Nathan Fillion, Steve Agee, Sean Gunn, Mayling Ng, Flula Borg, Jennifer Holland, and Tinashe Kajese, with Sylvester Stallone and Viola Davis. The film arrives in theaters and on HBO Max Aug. 6, 2021. This news arrives from Vanity Fairy.