Few celebrities have the geek cred of Joe Manganiello. He grew up as a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan before making his big screen debut as Flash Thompson in the very first Spider-Man movie. From there, Manganiello has starred in HBO’s True Blood as the werewolf Alcide Herveaux and portrayed Deathstroke/Slade Wilson in Justice League.
This month, Manganiello is back in action in Archenemy, a new film available now on demand. He plays Max Fist, a tortured man who may or may not be a superpowered alien from another world. That ambiguity isn’t an accident and Manganiello openly admits to finding darker characters more interesting to play.
“Do I like playing bad guys? Or do I like playing good guys? I like interesting parts,” said Manganiello. “A lot of times, the good guy is written very bland. The hero of your story is way less interesting than the villains.”
But according to Manganiello, the distinction isn’t always as black and white as it seems. Using Cobra Kai as a reference, Manganiello argued that perhaps Flash Thompson wasn’t the real bully in his conflict with Peter Parker.
“Is he [a bully?] Or is he the football player jock guy, and some nerd is now moving in on his girlfriend? It just depends on how you look at it!,” exclaimed Manganiello.
Intriguingly, Manganiello noted that he fought to keep Deathstroke more human in the DC Extended Universe instead of making him a super-powered threat.
“A lot of the talks I had early on, after being initially cast, was about trying to keep [Slade] human,” recalled Manganiello. “I don’t want him to be super-powered, because Batman isn’t super-powered. Batman is a human with no powers who went through a traumatic experience, lost loved ones, and swore it would never happen again. And then [he] put on this mask and suit of armor, and went out into the streets to create a more utopian, safe society.”
“On the flip side of that, you have [Deathstroke], who went through a traumatic experience, lost a loved one, put on a mask, put on a suit, and… attempted to enact his own agenda,” continued Manganiello. “The only difference is Batman uses different tactics. If [Deathstroke] was super-powered and Batman wasn’t, I think the hot air balloon just drips away.”
For more from Manganiello, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE Rewind!