Rumor Patrol: Denzel Washington as Lex Luthor; ‘Justice League’ of Nations

Published 1 year ago by , Updated December 6th, 2013 at 9:41 am,

Denzel Washington as Lex Luthor in Batman vs Superman Rumor Patrol: Denzel Washington as Lex Luthor; Justice League of Nations

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.

Lex Luthor Superman Man of Steel Rumors Rumor Patrol: Denzel Washington as Lex Luthor; Justice League of Nations

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.

Denzel Washington Idris Elba and Colin Salmon as Lex Luthor Rumor Patrol: Denzel Washington as Lex Luthor; Justice League of Nations

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.


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  1. Denzel would be cool I guess but I rather see Will Smith in the part like it was rumored years ago.

  2. Oh boy, let the b****ing begin. Great to keep the hype machine going though……

  3. Denzel is cool, though IMO he is more suited to play john Stewart green lantern

  4. Cool. Of the three choices id like to see Colin Salmon play Lex. Hes awesome.

    • +1

  5. Hm, um. Denzel would be interesting but it feels like he would change the vibe of the whole movie. Make it all about him…and it’s hard to see him being him with people in flashy tights flying around him everywhere. But that could just be lack of precedent. Either way Salamon definitely looks more the part so I’d go for him.

    That said, as a black guy myselfm this is annoying. Deliberately making a character a minority doesn’t move forward towards true equality at all. Why? Because it’s still race based and it’s still making judgments based on the color of the skin. The point isn’t to get picked because of the color of the skin; it’s to get picked *despite* it. They’re basically saying “Hey, okay. So Lex Luthor. He’s gunna be BLACK!” instead of picking good candidates and finding one that happens to be black and making it work.

    So if you’re wondering what I’m ranting for, it’s that I would much rather have heard that say, Salamon was up there in contention for the role right alongside Cranston and Strong. Because then it would be merit based and a competition of talent, not just fish-in-the-barrel lets-get-SOME-black-guy-as-long-as-he’s-black.

    I don’t know if I’m wording this very well but I doubt I’ll change anyone’s mind anyway.

    • I understand what you mean.

      Seems to be the trend in Hollywood these days.

      As for Lex I don’t know but,
      Mark Strong is Sinestro
      Denzel is better than MOS and Batman combined.
      Idris Elba needs to do Black Panther, Pacific Rim 2 then get ready to become Bond, James Bond

    • Nope, you’re coming across loud and clear, positive discrimination is STILL discrimination.

      If they wanted to push true equality how about some productions where the character is non-Caucasian in the first place;

      - Black Panther
      - Luke Cage
      - John Stewart
      or some brand new IP, etc. and so forth (apologies to all those I’ve missed out),

      instead of shoe-horning in a casting decision for the appearance of racial equality.

      We’re not stupid, we know that this has come down from some bean counter studio exec
      “we need to expand the target demographic, lets have some racial diversity, it would be good for the studios image, pushing our equality agenda….” (F**king despise those people)

      That said when I think of Denzel, Idris and Colin, do you know what they all have in common….. they’re f**king great actors and either of them would be awesome as Lex

      Densel’s star power it too much, would shake the reality of the world (Affleck gets away with it because of the general opinion he’s held in as an actor)

      Idris would be awesome but I think he’d come across as a more physical Lex, he’s very intense, intelligent but not a schemer

      I’d go with Colin, he’d be great at the whole evil industrialist vibe with plans that have secrets that have secret plans….

      • Yes, they should put Black Panther AND Luke Cage in the MOS sequel.

        • +1 for sarcasm

      • Its only positive discrimination if the studio was being forced to hire a black man over a white man. If they choose an actor based only on his acting ability, as the best choice possible for the direction the studio is taking the film, than its just good business.

  6. great actors, but no…..where in hell is Cranston!

  7. Chris Nolan’s brother is Jonathan Nolan. Denzel would be own the screen, funny thing is I can imagine Lex Luthor saying, “King Kong ain’t got sh*t on me.”

    • His nickname is Jonah.

      • Um, his name is Jonathan, and sometimes he goes by Jonah for short.

      • Wow, I can’t read. Ignore my previous comment, Ben.

  8. I think denzel would be freaking awesome. What i dont understand is people say the movie will be to crowded or the casting is bad. But for me snyders casting in watchmen was impeccable. Jackie earl hayley as rourshake was incredible and nobody saw that coming. Also that film focused on a ton of heroes. I think snyder can pull it off and i have no problem with the chanced race of a character.

    • There were a couple casting choices that did not work at all, in my opinion (Matthew Goode, Malin Akerman).

    • Rorschach. And I agree Haley was awesome.

    • Denzel would be cool. But I really want to see Idrtis Elba as badass and manipulative as he was in The Wire. I want the Stringer Bell persona back! Even as Lex Luthor!

  9. I think changing the everyone to fit a specific nation is interesting. However i think it may be tough to pull off. Latino flash?? Anyone got some good options for that? I sure dont, michael pena could bring the funny i guess.

  10. He would really change the game on all super hero movies. The ONLY problem with this is that he would be around actors who are not on his level and then he would quickly take over the movie.

    As much as I love DW Im not really coming to a JLA movie for too much Drama, I need some action and him playing Lex would be him Talking for a hour. However, if he says yes this would be amazing

  11. For the uninitiated Luthor was always Black even in comics books and in the animated series, so please stop your fight over the color of the actor and just look how talented they are and see if they have the talents to portray the character but one thing that’s ringing in my brain lately is who is the second and more prominent physical villain of this movie, what do you think screen ranter’s who would be the best possible choice for this new universe (a physical villain) my vote goes to John Corben (Metallo) he is the most suitable villain. In the new 52 reboot john corben is a sincere and patriotic soldier who volunteered for powered exo-skeleton military project to fight the ever increasing alien threats (mainly because of superman) and even Lex has his hands in the creation of the exo-skeleton that metallo wears called the Metal Zero and this armor is powered by kryptonite, i guess no further explanation is needed as there is no better choice than this for Snyder & co, because in post man of steel movie universe the government is scared about superman and the potential alien threats and another highly influential social figure called lex luthor is igniting the fear of superman being dangerous for humans all these may possibly motivate US govt to create programs of its own to defend from potential alien(superman) threats and even Lex may help with the process by providing tech solutions and by funding the projects, metallo can be the most practical villain who best suits the realistic tone of Snyder & Goyer’s universe and he can also be dangerous just read the new 52 comics where he appears as the metal zero he is awesome and also dangerous because of the kryptonite in him. the only problem faced now is how Goyer and Snyder are going to introduce kryptonite. What do you say people

    • Read the previous comments. Nobody was fighting.

    • No Lex Luthor was always white.

    • What fight you dolt, LOL. Stop trying to start a race argument because no one was complaining about color.

    • No one was fighting about it and LL was never black. In the beginning he had a full head of red hair but never black. So you don’t jack.

  12. regardless of whether this rumor proves to be true or not, this sure has been an eventful week. excitement and anger within the same news item.

  13. Denzel Washington is not exciting. To me, anyway, he is a boring actor. Talented and well-credentialed, yes, but I don’t feel enough dynamic quality in him for Lex Luthor. It’s a specific thing.

    Elba I’m cool with (but Jon Stewart Green Lantern!?), and Salmon I could see.

    But Denzel…I have to say, I just want WB to make a casting choice that doesn’t immediately give me a sinking feeling in my stomach. Affleck and Gadot may be great, but neither was my idea of the “type,” so they’ve taken some getting used to. I hope that Snyder knows what he’s doing. I loved the Man of Steel cast, but things are getting a bit more eccentric now…

  14. Why cant they stick to the source material?

  15. Also, while I can’t imagine that they would tie the Justice League into “of America” specifically in an upcoming film, I don’t know that I expect them to go out of there way to making it all “UN-style.”

    And I don’t expect Themyscira as we know it to show up…but I could be wrong about that.

    • *out of THEIR way

  16. Themyscira could be a secret community of female warriors on an island who do covert operations for gods. They could be grounded like the league of shadows in tdk triology

    • Well since we are trying to cover all the bases of politically correct, Themyscira would be a race of GLTB

      • I think you just mean “Lesbians”.

        • They could have wieners for all we know…

  17. Would love to see Washington as a villian in a comic book movie, I can imagine peoples reactions getting even more absurd after some of the ones I saw on Gadot as WW.
    P.S Tom Hanks wanted to be in a CBM as a villian if I remember correctly, that would be great.

  18. As a African American male myself Ill say this. I want Bruce Willis to play luthor, but who says it has or should be a black man to play the role of lex luthor. If synder is going the diversity route, then he should also consider an Hispanic or Korean actor as well for the role. Not trying to be a smart ass or anything, but let it be a equal opportunity factor if that’s the way they want to go. There are some good Hispanic, And Korean actors out there who deserve an opportunity to at least try out for The role. Frankly it should be the actor who is best suited for the role regardless of the color of his skin or his nationality.

    Can’t wait for the day this world becomes color blind and won’t associate race with anything. And for the record the reason I prefer Bruce Willis for the role of luthor is because I’ve always liked Bruce and would like to see him as a villian for a change.

    • Can’t be asian. Might upset our Chinese overlords.

    • Bruce Willis as Lex?
      Superman flies to save Lois, turns around a chair and sees “Yippie-Kai-Yay Mother F**ker” before kryptonite bomb blows away.

      • Well said my man ! LOL

    • IMO Bruce Willis would probably phone in his performance if he was cast as Luthor, so I can’t say I like him for the role, but I completely agree that characters shouldn’t be cast based on their skin color or ethnicity, they should be cast based on the BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB. Let people of all colors, creeds and genders on the short list (or audition), and choose the one who does the most justice to the character, and in the case of Luthor, gives the most charismatic, yet eerily creepy performance.

      • @Avenger.If they talked to Bruce and got him excited to play Lex I think we would see one of his best performances we haven’t seen in a long time.

      • I have written in my blogs that Bruce would be an epic Lex Luther why this has not been done is beyond me, however Denzel would be truly awesome and would totally steel the show Lex as well. I feel the role should be given to either Bruce or Denzel.

    • My same thoughts exactly.

    • @Rome. I actually had a dream a couple weeks ago that they did cast Bruce Willis as Lex Luthor.If they do cast a white character he is who I wanna see after I thought about it awhile.I’ve given up on the Billy Zane movement lol.

    • If they go the asian route, i think Rick Yune would be good

  19. Bryan Cranston would be cool in theory, but I feel like he would remind me to much of Walter White as Luther. Denzel would be cool just because he’s always good. Honestly though, Lex Luther is the most boring villain to me. He’s a bald rich guy that hates Superman.

    • Luthor*

  20. Denzel? come on…
    I like the guy. but ALL he does is acting like… Denzel.

  21. David Morrissey for Lex Luthor. I think he would do a amazing job in my opinion.

  22. FOR GOD’S SAKE CAN SOMEBODY PUT IDRIS ELBA IN A F**KING SUIT ALREADY?! Enough with the POC sidekicks/villains!

  23. Billy Zane!

  24. I think Bryan Cranston could have been a really cool Luthor…. However… Idris Elba or Salmon would be really good too.

    It doesn’t really matter if Luthor is Caucasian, Black, Latino, Asian…anyone.. It only matters that the guy they pick act and convincingly portray that troubled and fairly evil and intimidating guy. Elba has already played luthor…I know..not the same thing….But to see Elba go up against Cavill….I’ll buy that…cold and calculating…

    I prefer to see the casting that synder is doing not on the basis of ethnicity…more on the basis of who can play the character…

    For me…Elba and Salmon both seem like this character is definitely in their ballpark… Both are excellent actors….and have given great performances…Denzel of course…is pretty awesome too….

    Its actually hard to pick from these three…In fact in a list with Cranston, Elba, Denzel and Salmon…. I think I justttt mightttt have wanted Elba for Luthor…he just edges out Cranston in my mind..purely based on acting talent. Even though Cranston as Walter White was beyond cool…..Elba in Luthor(TV series) was just..heartwrenchingly amazing…

  25. Denzel’s a talented actor, but as Lex Luthor, i’m not too sure. The others sound promising.

  26. WTF? What happened to those Bryan Cranston rumours? Warner Bros are idiots for not getting the guy to play Luthor. Have they not seen his amazing performance in Breaking Bad???

  27. Enough with the stupid race changes!!!

  28. I just hope that they cast the person who will give the best performance in that role. I don’t really care if they’re black or white or hispanic or a woman. Hell, I’d take a one-legged, no tongued version of Nicholas Cage in blackface playing Lex Luthor if that’s who would give the best performance. Implausible, kinda. But you get my point. I just wanna be entertained!

  29. Densel Washington would own the role of Lex Luthor. Idris Elba is a great actor also, but I can’t really picture him as Lex.

    The United Nations JL idea sounds pretty dumb though… I mean, why? If someone could explain why, I might be okay with it, but it just seems like them wanting to be more “politically correct”. The characters and the stories work. Of course some things should be changed to fit the medium of film better, but yeah… not a fan of that ‘many nations’ idea. Hopefully it stays a rumor and nothing more.

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