By Jarrod Jones. Just when we thought we couldn’t be more underwhelmed by the future of the DC Cinematic Universe, this happens.

It was announced on Thursday afternoon that Joe Manganiello had been cast as Deathstroke the Terminator, the character widely believed to be the big bad in the next Ben Affleck-helmed Batman movie. And while I’m working overtime to get hyped on this decision, the excitement just isn’t coming. Oh, and before you hop on social media to tell me how wrong I am, just know: I get it.

Please don’t misinterpret this as a piece of Deathstroke hate, because it isn’t — Deathstroke is an awesome villain. He one of the few bad guys out there that can hold down their own solo book, conceptually he looks downright intimidating, and he’s still the best nemesis Arrow will ever have.

But this is Batman we’re talking about here, and when the day comes that Ben Affleck gets to strut around his very own Bat-movie as a triple-threat (executive producer, co-writer, and star) I want a villain that can bring some very personal stakes to the proceedings. Far as I can see, Slade Wilson ain’t the character to do that.

The announcement of the film’s villain ought to inspire a sense of excitement in us. It ought to give us a sense of the stakes involved with the next filmic offering of the Dark Knight Detective. But Joe Manganiello’s Slade Wilson… that’s just not cutting the mustard. Not for me.

So, instead of trying to get behind the prospects of watching a grizzled Batfleck get into a wangus-measuring contest with a grizzled Joe Manganiello, I submit to you a list of villains I’d rather see in the next solo Batman movie, painful realities be damned.



I’m not going to presume that I know more about organic storytelling when it comes to filmmaking than practically everyone else at Warner Bros, but seriously what the fuck right now. If the one-two genital punch that was Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad gave us anything to look forward to (aside from the sweet release of death), it was the tantalizing prospect that we may just see Jason Todd get his cinematic due yet.

The “Ha Ha, Look At This Fucking Thing” Robin Easter Egg that Zack Snyder thrust into our ocular cavities in Dawn of Justice led directly to that “Trading Card Stats” opening sequence in Squad. (Primarily that eyebrow-raising piece of information that Harley Quinn, of all people, was complicit in the Boy Wonder’s untimely demise.) And as painful as both of those things were, they seemed to be teasing some sort of reckoning between Batman and The Joker at some point down the line. Robin was dead. Somebody had to pay for that.

So what about Jason Todd? Why can’t the Red Hood be in a Batman movie? An adaptation of the Judd Winick-penned Under the Hood storyline already exists as an animated feature, sure, but that only serves as proof that the retribution of Jason Todd remains one of the most potent Batman stories of the 21st century. An adaptation of that saga by Academy Award winner Ben Affleck would make for the most exciting — and saddest — Batman film since The Dark Knight, and shut up already, you know I’m right.



If making Jason Todd the big bad would eclipse the star wattage of Jared Leto too much, then why not save Robin’s revenge for another movie? There are huge benefits to having a filmmaker on Affleck’s level tackling the Clown Prince of Crime, the biggest being that Leto’s Jugga-licious Joker would finally have room to justify his existence.

Regardless of how you felt about Suicide Squad, The Joker was easily the most underdeveloped of all the characters in the movie. (Yes, even Slipknot. What’s so hard to get about that guy? “Hits women, gets head blown off.” Got it.) Jared Leto’s Method approach to the Harlequin of Hate may have given Warner Bros plenty of free publicity leading up to Squad‘s release; ultimately there was a tremendous disconnect between Leto’s efforts and the final product we were shown on the big screen.

There is a lot of work with Leto’s Joker left to be done. While I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Leto took a powder and Warner Bros had to recast The Joker, the bottom line is simple: The Cinematic Universe carries on, and there’s a Joker running around in it. It’s high time somebody tested his true mettle.



You can stop right there. I don’t give one rotten fig that Gotham is tackling the Court of Owls right now. Besides, wouldn’t you rather see what director Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) would do with a mysterious secret society hellbent on dismantling Bruce Wayne? Sounds pretty damn cool, now don’t it?

What makes the prospect of including the Court of Owls in the next Bat-movie is the knowledge that Affleck’s Batman has been around for quite some time now. He’s created a myth around himself, he has an armada for a Rogues’ Gallery (you saw some of them in Suicide Squad), and he’s already lost a sidekick or two. (See above.) All of a sudden the idea that an evil organization older than the Liberty Bell has been operating underneath Wayne’s Bat-nose all this time sounds that much creepier. How could this truth evade the World’s Greatest Detective for so long? Sounds like one helluva movie to me.



Before I begin, no, The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t count. Why? Because it wasn’t Talia Batman was fighting for the duration of that needlessly overlong movie — it was his long flirtation with mortality. Talia al Ghul, and to an even lesser extent, Bane, were just physical embodiments of Wayne’s obsession with death, which is just another example of the heady shit Christopher Nolan was lobbing our way during his Dark Knight trilogy when he thought we weren’t paying attention.

It’s well past time DC Films started mining Grant Morrison’s Batman run for all it is worth. Talia al Ghul became Batman’s ultimate foe in those stories as the mastermind behind the nefarious Leviathan organization, and there’s no reason to believe that the character couldn’t be just as lethal on the big screen. Besides, the introduction of Talia opens up so many storytelling possibilities, chiefly, that of having Damian Wayne make his cinematic debut. Let’s make this sucker a trilogy of films, why the hell not. There’s plenty of material to work from.

Affleck could toss in other Morrison-era Bat-baddies loyal to the Leviathan cause: Spyral, Dr. Dedalus, and, of course, The Heretic, whose presence would trigger a crazy-pants second-film cliffhanger that would drive audiences absolutely wild, especially if Damian Wayne was bopping around for an entire movie beforehand. There is certainly more creativity at hand here than watching Batman fight another dude who’s really good at shooting guns, right? Right.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.