James Gunn responds to latest Twitter theory, saying he and DCEU actor are ‘just friends’

Fans are getting out their corkboards and yarn and preparing to dive into a new DCEU casting theory rabbit hole, but director James Gunn is telling them to keep things casual.

The theory sprang to life when one inquisitive fan spotted a familiar name on the Suicide Squad director’s list of Instagram followers.

Joe Manganiello, who portrays Slade Willson aka the assassin Deathstroke in the DC Extended Universe, follows James Gunn. James Gunn, the newest and widely-lauded director of the DCEU Suicide Squad franchise, follows Manganiello. After a few moments of questionable math and a somewhat premature conclusion, a theory was spawned: Deathstroke will likely appear in the new Peacemaker TV series!

Or they’re just friends, as Gunn quickly pointed out via his own Twitter account. That didn’t stop Manganiello from cheekily throwing gasoline upon the embers of speculation that Gunn had tried to extinguish.

Fans have clamored for a vehicle featuring Manganiello’s Deathstroke ever since the actor appeared as Wilson in a post-credits scene of Justice League. In the Zack Snyder cut of the film, Wilson appears in Batman’s vision of the future, where he joins the resistance force the Caped Crusader has assembled to fight the forces of Darkseid and his thrall, Superman. Manganiello was slated to appear in The Batman, but once Ben Affleck dropped out of the project, replacement director Matt Reeves made the decision to remove the film from DCEU continuity, meaning Deathstroke was out of the picture. Manganiello has been tied to several projects since then, but so far a Deathstroke project has yet to manifest.

Gunn’s Peacemaker will be hitting small screens and devices next month and is set to debut some hitherto unseen DC heroes such as Judomaster and Vigilante, but there’s been no cast listing of Manganiello or any other actor as Deathstroke. So, although Peacemaker and Deathstroke have teamed up before in the comics, notably to fight the terrorist known as Kobra, fans should probably dampen any hopes of seeing them together in the DCEU this year. Unless, of course, Gunn is holding the Terminator card close to his chest.

Peacemaker will begin its eight-episode run on HBO Max on Jan. 22, 2022.