The Surprising Way Joe Manganiello Landed His Spider-Man Role

Typically when actors score a role in a major superhero movie franchise, it's a big deal. Assumably one that involves excitement and interest on both ends of the deal — from the talent to the studio. The Russo brothers and Kevin Feige were certainly excited to bring on Tom Holland as the third live-action iteration of the web-slinger — and first in the MCU. So much so, they announced Holland's casting before telling him

But when Joe Manganiello auditioned for the part of Flash Thompson, Peter Parker's bullying classmate, in Sam Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man, there was less excitement on the studio's end. According to the actor, someone wasn't too eager to see Manganiello as Mary Jane's former boyfriend and human antagonist to Toby Maguire's spidey. 

"I won't name names, but there was someone who didn't want me as Flash Thompson [in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man]. So for a month and a half, they went ahead and auditioned everybody else in town all over again," Manganiello told The Hollywood Reporter

That revelation is somewhat shocking for several reasons. First, because a single person could have enough power to stretch out a casting process when there was a competent choice right in front of them, but also because — as the movie shows — they ultimately still went with Manganiello. As if triggering yet another round of wide auditioning didn't add enough insult to injury, how the Archenemy star got the news was pretty bad, too. 

"Then, on Christmas Eve, I got a call that I got the role back. Well, no, the way it was phrased to me by my agent at the time was, 'They didn't find anybody else. The role is yours," Manganiello said. 

Spider-Man wasn't the last bad experience Joe Manganiello had with a superhero film

Flash was one of Joe Manganiello's earliest roles, and since, the actor has gone on to have a pretty strong career. The Pittsburgh native has delivered memorable performances in True Blood, Rampage, Magic Mike, and will likely do so as Deathstroke in Zack Snyder's upcoming four-hour cut of Justice League. Playing yet another villain in a major superhero film, Manganiello's experience as the super soldier-turned-mercenary should have been easy — at least easier than his experience with Spider-Man. But after Snyder stepped down from helming the then highly-anticipated team-up and Joss Whedon took over, his appearance as Slade Wilson was significantly pared down. 

Instead of being set-up as the main antagonist for Ben Affleck's Batman and eventually his own standalone film through a planned Justice League end-credit scene, the departures of both Snyder and Affleck from their respective projects created a domino effect that seemingly ended Manganiello's future in the DCEU. It also produced yet another less-than-great experience for the actor with a superhero blockbuster.

"If you hang around this business long enough, then you're going to witness some of the craziest circumstances you've ever seen," Manganiello recalled to THR. "Probably the worst phone call I've ever received was when The Batman wasn't happening. Then there were about seven other phone calls that followed up that one involving other Deathstroke projects that weren't happening, so those were tough." 

Lucky for Manganiello and the DCEU fans still eager for more Deathstroke on the big screen, Zack Snyder's Justice League will see the character return and get his due