Here’s the state of things, as far as casting goes for Batman vs. Superman – director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer’s followup to their Superman reboot, Man of Steel. Joining return cast members Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane are Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) as Wonder Woman and possibly Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) in a role speculated to be anything from iconic Superman villain Doomsday to another member of the Justice League, Martian Manhunter.
But what of long-rumored antagonist/villain Lex Luthor, whose appearance in the next Superman installment has been rumored ever since the LexCorp logo popped up in Man of Steel atop a skyscraper and on a couple of trucker tanks (among other places)?
Variety is reporting that Oscar-nominee Joaquin Phoenix – currently earning acclaim for his performance in Spike Jonze’s Golden Globe-nominated modern romance/sci-fi drama Her – is Warner Bros.’ preferred candidate to play an unspecified role in Batman vs. Superman, which is believed to be that of the film’s “main antagonist” – L. Luthor, in all likelihood. However, the site cautions that the situation is very much in flux; meaning, Phoenix has only begun to weigh the offer, and could end up instead accepting a role in a project like Gus Van Sant’s latest film, Sea of Trees.
Phoenix, who turned 40 this year, is within the predicted age bracket we had for Luthor in Batman vs. Superman (older than Cavill as Clark Kent, but not too seasoned), though he’s a left-field choice for the role compared to the 5 actors we nominated – assuming that Phoenix is, indeed, up to portray the brilliant, but diabolical billionaire – yet also, very much an intriguing choice to portray the charming, yet loathsome, Luthor.
The method actor is best known for playing sensitive and emotionally-volatile types (see: Walk the Line, The Master, and so forth) – not so much coiled strategists, like the recent rumored Luthor candidate Denzel Washington - which includes his love-to-hate ‘em antagonist in Gladiator. Problem is, Phoenix doesn’t often (if ever) work outside of non-mainstream and/or indie fare (see: his upcoming role in P.T. Anderson’s stoner neo-noir Inherent Vice).
That said: it would be interesting to see Phoenix play Luthor as more of an eccentric industrialist, especially if he were to be recruited by the government to investigate and take Superman down a peg, as happened in the “New 52″ comic book relaunch.
Indeed, in that continuity, Kal-El and Bruce Wayne’s shared disdain for Luthor is something that ends up uniting them, despite their striking differences in philosophy and outlook – could something similar happen in Batman vs. Superman? It would be in keeping with Goyer’s approach to the DC universe (i.e. tapping into modern political concerns, about government officials getting into bed with the ultra-rich, etc.)…
How about it, Screen Ranters: do you like the idea of Joaquin Phoenix as Lex Luthor?
Batman vs. Superman opens in theaters on July 17th, 2015.