There’s been so much official superhero movie news over the past few days that mere Batman vs. Superman and Justice League rumors – no matter how interesting – seem pretty boring by comparison. There was the casting of Gal Gadot (Fast and Furious 6) as Wonder Woman, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer, and the revelation that the sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past will be about Apocalypse (maybe even the Age of). What could possibly be worth mentioning alongside all that craziness?
Well, the latest batch of rumors have to do with the casting of Lex Luthor in BvS and the setup for the inevitable followup, Justice League. While we’ve heard casting rumors for Lex before – namely, that Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and Mark Strong (Green Lantern) were up for the role – this rumor would seem to indicate that Zack Snyder and co. are going in an altogether different direction.
According to Thinkmcflythink, the shortlist for Superman’s greatest, most brilliant arch-nemesis includes, first and foremost, Denzel Washington (2 Guns), Idris Elba (Thor 2), and “a certain reoccurring [African-American] cast member from ‘Arrow.’ ” Just to get it out of the way – yes, these are all black men. And no, casting a black man as Luthor is not comparable to casting Brad Pitt as Black Panther or Bruce Willis as Malcolm X. In case there was any confusion on the matter.
Since the above article also refers to Idris Elba – a British black man – as an African-American, it’s hard to say who the third actor is referring to. It could be David Ramsey, who’s American, or Colin Salmon, who’s British. Salmon is the more “Lex Luthor-esque” of the two and Ramsey is likely locked in to play Oliver Queen’s partner, John Diggle, for a while, so the former seems the more likely candidate.
Thinkmcflythink stresses that their report doesn’t mean Lex Luthor will definitely be played by a black actor; rather, black actors are who the producers are currently looking at.
Of the three actors on the rumored shortlist, Denzel is easily the most exciting option. He’s proven before that he can play a villain role with the best of them (he won his Best Actor Oscar for Training Day) and, perhaps even more importantly, that he can pull off a bald head (The Equalizer). Unfortunately, according to the report, Denzel is the least likely of the three to take the role – and in fact, it may already be outside the realm of possibility.
Idris Elba would certainly do an excellent job in the role, but frankly, I’d much prefer to see him get his shot at an actual superhero at some point. Maybe we can just forget all about that Green Lantern (2011) nonsense and Elba can take the role of John Stewart in the aforementioned Justice League.
Lastly, Colin Salmon – if indeed he is the Arrow actor in question – has a solid sinister vibe going on that would fit the role really well, but his star power is well below the other two (not that that’s all that important).
This wouldn’t be the first time Zack Snyder made interesting casting choices with regard to established DC Comics characters. Aside from Henry Cavill who’s basically a dead ringer for the comic book version of Superman, pretty much every single casting decision was unique to the film – from Amy Adams (red hair) as Lois Lane to Russell Crowe as Jor-El to Laurence Fishburne as Perry White to Michael Shannon as General Zod. So there’s definitely some precedent here.
The other big rumor from Thinkmcflythink is that the Justice League in the Justice League movie will be a “United Nations of Superheroes […], with Superman [representing] the world as a whole (being an immigrant of Earth, he speaks for everyone), Batman [representing] the United States […], the Flash possibly portrayed by a Hispanic or Latino actor, and […] Wonder Woman [being] played by an Israeli.”
Obviously, there are a few interesting things going on in this rumor. The thing that gives it the most credence is that David Goyer actually wrote a pretty controversial (non-canon) comic book in 2011 where Superman renounced his American citizenship as a result of the 2009 Iranian protests and became a citizen of the world. (It was a bit heavy-handed, to say the least.)
Realistically, it’s doubtful that the rest of the planet – and the other superheroes on the UN version of the Justice League – would be cool with two heroes born and raised in the U.S. of A being on the team. As objective as Superman would surely be, his nigh-on invincible power and connection to the U.S. would likely cast doubt on his impartiality from an outside perspective. Furthermore, is Warner Bros. really going to change every Justice League member’s origin except for Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman? As an Amazon who hails from the mythical island nation of Themyscira, it makes sense that Wonder Woman would be played by someone not from the United States. You can even argue that it makes sense for the half-Atlantean Aquaman, though in the comics, he actually grew up in Maine.
But what about everyone else? I don’t mind Flash being played by a Latino at all, but it’s a pretty gargantuan departure to change his nationality. Will the same thing be done to Hawkman/woman? Cyborg? Green Lantern? Green Arrow? (Or whoever else ends up being on the team.) Despite being a huge fan of comic books, I’m usually all for changes in big screen adaptations, if it works. However, this all seems pretty gimmicky to me – not that I’m not open to the possibility of it working.
While we should obviously be skeptical about all of this, it is worth noting that the same source of these rumors originally reported that a Gotham Central-inspired TV show was in the works. Of course, that source also indicated that Jonah Nolan – brother to Chris, co-creator of Person of Interest – would produce the show. And while the show itself (centered on a young James Gordon) was eventually confirmed, Nolan’s involvement was sort of (resoundingly) not.
What say you, Screen Ranters? Are you interested in seeing Denzel Washington as Lex Luthor? Do you like the idea of the Justice League being a superhero version of the United Nations? (Maybe they could even call them the “Justice League of Nations. Get it? Get it?) Drop us a line in the comments – though please, do try to be civil.
Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman hits theaters July 17th, 2015. Justice League will doubtlessly hit theaters (relatively) soon after that.The real question is, will we see a big screen version of Darkseid before his knockoffs, Apocalypse and Thanos, appear in X-Men: Apocalypse and The Avengers 3? Only time will tell.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.