Next to the almighty hullabaloo surrounding Zack Snyder‘s cut of Justice League, the biggest What If story of the DCEU is probably Ben Affleck‘s Batman movie, which would have also seen the actor reprise the title role and co-write the script. Unfortunately for anyone excited about that idea and/or just excited to see photos of Ben Affleck directing in a cape, that project eventually changed hands and morphed into Matt Reeves‘ The Batman with Robert Pattinson under the cowl. But the question remains: What did Affleck‘s vision of Gotham City look like? Well, according to Joe Manganiello—who was set to play Deathstroke in the film—it would’ve looked a bit like a David Fincher film, and definitely not the one you’re thinking of.
“There were similarities to The Game,” Manganiello told Yahoo, referring to Fincher‘s 1997 thriller in which the life of a wealthy banker, Nicolas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) unravels after he agrees to take part in a vast, shadowy game. It is a wild ride that makes very little sense on a second watch, and I must insist you watch it immediately if you haven’t done so already.
According to Manganiello, Deathstroke would methodically tear down Bruce Wayne’s entire network of friends and family, much like The Game tears down every aspect of Van Orton’s reality.
“It was a really dark story in which Deathstroke was like a shark or a horror movie villain that was dismantling Bruce’s life from the inside out. It was this systemic thing: He killed everyone close to Bruce and destroyed his life to try and make him suffer because he felt that Bruce was responsible for something that happened to him.”
Manganiello continued: “It was really cool, really dark, and really hard.”
The Fincher comparison is especially intriguing because the first thought you have after watching The Batman teaser is, “well, that looks like a David Fincher movie.” It’ll be interesting to see if any of Affleck‘s story bled into this new script—which Reeves co-wrote with Peter Craig and Mattson Tomlin—despite swapping out Deathstroke for The Riddler (Paul Dano) as the main villain. Honestly, The Riddler just feels like way more of a The Game fan than Deathstroke.