In October of 2017, The Raid's Gareth Evans was in talks to write and direct a live-action solo Deathstroke movie with Joe Manganiello in the starring role. A month later, Slade Wilson (played by the True Blood actor) went on to briefly appear in the DCEU via a Justice League post-credits scene, where Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) announces his plans to set up the Legion of Doom.
While Manganiello seemed to confirm that the movie was happening, it never did as talks simply petered out between Evans and Warner Bros. In October of 2018, the filmmaker said the project would have offered him the chance "to go to some pretty dark places."
Now, thanks to a fresh interview with Yahoo! Movies UK, we have even more details about the director's epic Deathstroke film we'll probably never see.
“When I read up on [him], there were about three different versions of how his character originated. And so I thought we could do something quite Shakespearean, in terms of how he loses his eye, and how he gets created as the character that he is," Evans said, also confirming that he was indeed "attached" to the movie "at a certain point."
The writer-director went on to admit that he planned "to tell something that would be a lean story, that would be kind of an origin of that character. Something that felt like it could be 100 minutes or 110 minutes long, max – not to go over the two hour period with it."
Created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez in the early 1980s, Deathstroke is a sword-wielding mercenary-for-hire, who underwent a government experiment that left him with heightened abilities. He's fought many DC heroes over the decades, but is mainly known as an antagonist for the Teen Titans. Given his comic book persona as a gritty lone wolf, Slade Wilson would have fit nicely into Evans' stylistic influences at the time.
"Back then, I was massively influenced by the noir films coming out of South Korea, so that was my pitch," he continued. "I was like, 'These films are amazing: the texture, and the tones of colors, the grit and the aggression of them is super interesting to use to tell Deathstroke's story.'”
Moreover, the character's expertise in hand-to-hand combat would have been the perfect compliment to the director's ability to stage incredibly choreographed fight sequences, an ability endowed to him after making the two Raid movies.
“We had ideas of the kind of style that we would have gone for with that, which would have married some of the more grounded style that I have,” Evans said. “But then because of the world of it, it would allow me to be a bit more flamboyant and a bit more stylized. We could have taken it in some really interesting areas."
Unfortunately, discussions with the studio "never really went further than two or three phone calls." Evans said that he actually spoke to Manganiello about it "a while back" and both of them "lamented the fact that it didn't happen."
Wilson was recently portrayed by Esai Morales on Season 2 of Titans on DC Universe, and Manu Bennett played him for a few years on Arrow. In addition, the villain has his own animated series, Knights and Dragons, on the streaming platform. In that show, he's voiced by Fantastic Four's Michael Chiklis.