Art by Mike Zeck. Image: DC Comics

The actor has gone and spoiled the surprise, hasn’t he? After appearing in a cameo in Justice League, Joe Manganiello has posted a picture of himself in costume as Deathstroke, one of the deadliest assassins in the DC Universe. He’s looking good, but the appearance of a second live-action Deathstroke raises an important question.

Which Deathstroke terminates the fashion wars? Let’s investigate.

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Now, just for comparison, here’s his classic look.

Art by Mike Zeck. Image: DC Comics

In that very appealing Silver Age comics way, this design implies armor without actually fleshing it out, letting this Deathstroke manage to look both sleek and militaristic. His outfit has a lot of color but still manages to be menacing, though I’m way over the open eyes. It’s like Spider-Man’s lenses fell out of his backpack on the way to trigonometry. All in all, it’s pretty neat. I’m going to give it a 4.5/5 on the It’d-Be-Freaking-Rad-To-Be-Murdered-By-This-Guy scale.

So how does this look translate to live action?

First, here’s Joe, Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and later actor in films like Magic Mike, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, and Magic Mike XXL. Rumors have abounded about Deathstroke’s possible role in the DCEU for a while, and at one point Afleck’s solo Batman script apparently included the villain. Now, he’s here, armor and all.

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He’s looking pretty good, too. The armor is both functional and visually arresting—in particular I like the chest strap and the way it draws attention to his armored pecs. It’s strappy, in classic “realistic” superhero costume fashion, but not overly strappy. it all appears to have a reasonable function, and one could imagine him putting it on without taking too much time out of his morning.

I’m not entirely sold on the color scheme, though. The particular shade of orange used, combined with the overall design of the body armor, is giving me some serious flashbacks to Nite Owl from Snyder’s Watchmen movie. Also, weirdly, I find myself wishing his shoulder pads were even bigger? His silhouette just isn’t quite striking enough. I could see this version of Deathstroke being a major antagonist, or I could see him being killed off by a stray batarang in the first act. His costume doesn’t really give me an indication. I’m giving it a 3.5/5 on the It’d-Be-Freaking-Rad-To-Be-Murdered-By-This-Guy scale. 

On the other hand, we’ve got Arrow’s version of Deathstroke, which also takes visual elements from the comic book version, but plays them much differently.

Image: The CW

Okay, this is—well, it’s something, all right. While the DCEU Deathstroke looks like an earnest attempt to balance cartoonish elements with realistic ones, this guy looks like an Arena Football League linebacker who decided to rob banks with his collection of Nerf guns. Like, I’m sure this dude’s dangerous and all, but the black padding and the ill-fitting straps (seriously, his stomach does not look comfortable here) make this costume look like a first draft. It’s just not very colorful, either, forcing its elements to blend together. It relies way too much on its orange straps to give the suit shape, which again highlights how cobbled together it looks.

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I have to admit, though, I do like the mask. That shade of orange works, and it absolutely pops in contrast with all the blacks and blues. Still not enough to save the costume. I’m giving this look a 2/5.

My ceramic brightly colored death helmet’s off to you, Mr. Manganiello. Looks like you win this round.