Concept art from Ben Affleck’s ‘The Batman’ reveals redesigned Deathstroke

Image via DC Entertainment

With The Batman killing it in theaters worldwide, it’s weird to think that, in alternate universe out there, a totally different version of the blockbuster exists. Before director Matt Reeves boarded the project and cast Robert Pattinson in the title role, The Batman began life as a vehicle for Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight, with Affleck himself set to write, produce, and direct. This abandoned take on the film has already become one of the most mythical of unmade superhero movies.

One thing we’ve always known about Affleck’s The Batman is that it would have featured Deathstroke, as played by Justice League‘s Joe Manganiello, as its main antagonist. New freshly unveiled concept art tells us that Slade Wilson could’ve looked very different in the film. Concept artist Keith Christensen recently shared this piece on Instagram, which showcases a revamped suit for the master assassin.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League previously connected with Affleck’s Batman with its use of a scene that was originally intended to set up the spinoff, with Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor informing Wilson of the Caped Crusader’s secret identity. In the Snyderverse Batman, then, Deathstroke would have come to Gotham City and made Bruce Wayne’s life a living hell.

Reeves has explained before that he had the option to move forward with Affleck’s script, which the star co-wrote with Geoff Johns and Chris Terrio, but he ultimately elected to start from scratch and remove all ties to the wider DCEU, which is how we ended up with Pattinson’s standalone incarnation of the hero. The Batman‘s enormous success proves that Reeves and Warner Bros. made the right call in taking that route, but tasters like this concept art make us curious for what might have been.

In any case, it’s possible that Deathstroke could return elsewhere in the franchise at some point, something Manganiello has definitely been teasing of late.