Actor Joe Manganiello finally got to suit up in supervillain attire in the end credits scene in Justice League, taking on the role of Slade Wilson, better known as Deathstroke. While this was his first role as a costumed hero or villain, Joe Manganiello actually got his start in comic book movies a long time ago as Flash Thompson in 2002’s Spider-Man. The actor landed the role after a truly wild and unique audition process, that first saw him trying out for the lead role of Spider-Man himself, as he explained:
If you thought Spider-Man 3 was goofy, can you imagine a 6-foot 5-ish Joe Manganiello playing weak, awkward nerd Peter Parker? That must have been quite the sight, akin to muscle-bound Superman wearing an extra pair of eyes to pass himself off as demure journalist Clark Kent. It sounds like Joe Manganiello, being a huge comic book fan himself, knew full well the absurdity in him playing Peter Parker, considering the bully Flash would need to be played by a true giant to make the threat convincing.
Not only did Joe Manganiello know that he wasn’t right for Peter Parker, but so did the casting director Francine Maisler, who told him as much. Fortunately, there was another role in the film that the actor was perfect for and he knew it. Speaking to Kevin Smith for IMDb at Comic-Con, Joe Manganiello recounted his interaction with the casting director:
That’s some serious showmanship and a major flex move on the part of Joe Manganiello. As a comic book fan, he knew that he wasn’t right for Peter Parker, but a solid fit for Flash. He not only hoped to land another role, he actually prepared for it, knew both sets of lines, and even had his Flash Thompson attire on under his Peter Parker nerd wear. After that, how could the casting director not be impressed? It’s no wonder he got the part.
That’s pretty wild, and made even more so considering that Spider-Man was his very first feature film role. The actor elaborated to Kevin Smith that in a stroke of major luck, and clearly some savviness on his part, he met director Sam Raimi and screen tested for the part the very weekend he first moved to Los Angeles after drama school. He auditioned with the various Peter Parkers, including future Harry Osborn James Franco, and the rest is history. I’m sure this seems insanely unfair to actors that have toiled away for years without a percent of the success, but sometimes you just get lucky. You can check out Joe Manganiello as Flash Thompson in a clip from Spider-Man below:
Joe Manganiello’s time in comic book movies is far from done. Although he long wanted to play Superman and was almost cast as the Last Son of Krypton in Man of Steel, it looks like villainy is his lot onscreen. Because despite the DCEU being in a reshuffling phase, Joe Manganiello is still attached to play Deathstroke in either a solo film, or Matt Reeves’ Batman movie or some other DCEU property, but which one and when remains a mystery. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend and we’ll keep you updated on all the latest goings on in all the big screen comic book universes.