[This article contains SPOILERS for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.]
Whatever one thinks of the various performances in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’s theatrical cut, one that stood out in certain reviews was Jesse Eisenberg’s as Lex Luthor. For his part, Eisenberg seems to have kept himself fairly insulated from those critiques, and doesn’t seem to be sweating whatever negative feedback may or may not be coming his way.
Beyond the subjectivity of one actor’s performance, there are several questions with regard to certain aspects of Luthor’s story in the film. Things like the character making multiple unexplained leaps of logic, seeming to know information with no explanation given as to why, taking steps that would seem to clearly jeopardize his long-term plans, and unleashing a monologue at the end of the film that many have taken as confirmation of an allegiance between Luthor and powerful DC villain Darkseid.
Are Lex and Darkseid truly working together? If so, how long has Darkseid been calling the shots? Was Darkseid the one who supplied Lex with the inspiration to begin weaponizing Kryptonite, or create Doomsday? For that matter, how long had Lex even been aware of Batman and Superman’s civilian identities? These questions — among others — were left largely unanswered during the course of Batman V Superman, but during a recent interview, Eisenberg suggests Lex’s story was clearer before the editing process began.
“It’s a very complicated mythology that I was able to wrap my head around while we were filming, but I think there were certain editorial choices that I was not aware of that they put in retroactively.”
While it’s not surprising to find elements were cut from Lex Luthor’s arc in BVS — most comic book blockbusters end up leaving a good amount of material on the cutting-room floor after all — Eisenberg’s statement above does leave another big question open.
In recent days, BVS editor David Brenner — who also edited Man of Steel and will edit Zack Snyder’s forthcoming Justice League movie — has confirmed that the original cut of the film ran nearly four hours in length, a full hour longer than the R-rated director’s cut set to arrive later this year. Thus, one wonders whether Eisenberg’s comments about editorial alterations to Luthor’s storyline are referring to trims made from the original four hour cut, or Zack Snyder’s officially endorsed director’s cut. If it’s the former, there’s a decent chance that home video viewers won’t find themselves feeling any clearer on Luthor’s allegiances, motivations, and logic than they did while watching the theatrical cut.
As the DCEU and Eisenberg’s role in it continues to grow and evolve, hopefully future feature film installments — such as the two-part Justice League, and perhaps the upcoming Batman solo film — will retroactively act to fill in some of the blanks in Luthor’s BVS arc that might have been otherwise left on the cutting-room floor.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on June 19, 2020.