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.


NEXT PAGE: Will the Justice League Be a Superhero United Nations?



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  1. I like Colin Salmon for Lex Luthor even though the Dare Devil movie was ruined for me because the King Pin was not well handled. I don’t know if the King Pin was bad because of him being African American or if that was just coincidence. I can see Barry Allen being Irish but not really anything else. For the rest of the Justice League to work they would need to drop characters like Cyborg for characters like Vibe. I have said this many times before but if DC wants to do a diversified team movie they should do the Super Friends, one Asian, one Native American, one African American, and two Swedish Aliens.

  2. Clive Owen WOULD be sick. I still think Jason Clark would be awesome. Iv’e only seen him in Lawless, but I know he’s been in a few shows. He has that old school Gene Hackman type feel to him wile at the same time he can appear more menacing…

    • Jason Clarke would be amazing i saw him in zero dark thirty and his performance was amazing he could definitely pull off a menacing lex which is what i think all the other lex luthor performances have been missing

      • Agree …”a menacing lex which is what i think all the other lex luthor performances have been missing”. Were not gonna see that Gene Hackman version of Lex Luthor obviously. I`d say they will go back to the basics with Lex a genius scientist that eventually becomes rich with a dark side to him

  3. I have been ans always will be in the, “stop fking with the source material” camp”. I am a purist and feel they should portray the iconic characters in question as they have been since their inception.

    Instead of shoehorning ethnic diversity where it isn’t needed, here’s an original idea……start a NEW superhero/villain universe with a good international mix Caucasian’s, aliens, Asians, Blacks, Indian’s, etc and leave the original characters alone.

    That also goes for JL”E”. Avengers had no problem making 1.5 billion despite everyone being from basically the USA (well Thor landed in America so……) so why does WB feel changing all their most revered and iconic characters origins is required? The JL was thought up and brought to life in the good ol’ USA and that is something to be proud of, not changed like there is something wrong with it.

    If the movie in question is good, people WILL go see it regardless of the nationalities involved…..”make it right and they will come”. You know you could just go with the “Justice League” and drop the unnecessary 3rd title.

  4. Idris Elba.
    Of course. I see a patern here. First they say that certain character, previously white, in at least most of his appearances will be made black for the movie, then they propose Idris Elba as one of the candidates, then he’s never mentioned again.
    At least it worked out with Heimdall.

  5. Interesting. I think this is a good Idea

  6. Luthor’s race is inconsequential. Get the best, most interesting actor. Period. All fine choices currently rumored for the part. Foe those whom dissagree, go watch the superman animated show he was more or less purposefully drawn as having a fairly ambiguous ethnic heritage. Because it just doesnt matter. His character and what drives him is what is inportant and u absolutely need a great actor to protray it properly or else The character could get pretty campy and over the top pretty quick.

    • I think originally they drew him as african american, then lightened his skin color later. Not like black means anything anyway, But I noticed a definite change at some point.

  7. I’m with mongoose. Is it really necessary to add Speedy Gonzalez to the JL? There are plenty of heroes/villains of different races out there, give them a movie

  8. Tyler Perry’s: Man of Steel

  9. I hope it’s not Elba, they need to save him for a good fing part. I want him as Jonzz or T’challa or GL. I know Lex is a big part, but I think it would be a waste for him.

  10. Please take Superman and JL movies away from Zack Snyder!

  11. Even though this would be a welcome inclusion of a person of color in a major role, it would still be racebending. Lex Luthor is a character that is too well known (always depicted as white) to be changed like this, even if they get outstanding actors like Denzel or Idris. The same goes for Perry White, despite how great an actor Larry Fishburne is. I understand these guys stand out in their roles because they are excellent actors, and that’s what filmmakers want, that doesn’t mean it is always best.
    While these particular characters aren’t strictly defined by race like Luke Cage (blaxploitation origins) or Black Panther and Storm (Africans), if we don’t want characters of color to be “white washed” in movies, we can’t use a double standard or force diversity like this.
    Regardless, I think this is just a rumor. We can always hope they’ll come up with an original character just for Idris.

  12. No ScreenRant changing a characters race to the sake of “equality” only brings the race argument back into the spotlight, it doesn’t help to make the world a better place. So yes it is just as racist as casting a white man as a black character.

  13. Now I’ve never been a fan of changes like this to the main characters. Its not about being racist. Its because I’ve seen these characters on the pages of comics for many years, and when I see them in a movie I want it to feel like they were sucked right from the pages into real life. Just imagine if they announced Wonder Woman was going to be a redhead. There would be a massive uproar. And thats just hair color. As the writer said, its not like Black Panther. His heritage plays a direct part in his story. But characters like Cyborg, Falcon,John Stweart and Amanda Waller their race has little to do with their story. I would have a fit it you tried to change the look of any of them too. Even so, I could really get into Idris Elba or Colin Salmon as Lex. Not so much Denzel. Without even trying to be diverse, I like these two choices over any of the white guys linked. In my mind I can picture Salmon as Lex, bring Elba into the Justice League as the John Stewart Green Lantern. And on a side not, no to Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm…because I picture him as the perfect fit for Cyborg.

  14. Denzel could be a great Luther but there’s no shortage of white actors that could too. Yes African Americans were mistreated in our history, and yes it was wrong, but it seems these days everything has to be made into some sort of “apology” to them. Look at the big stories that have been making national news, a lot of them are the “big bad white man” oppressing the innocent defenseless African American; and if you side with the white guy, regardless of the evidence, you’re a racist. I’m going to be 100 percent honest and say in the year 2013 there are more racist blacks than whites. If you had droves of whites on the news saying they based their vote off the candidates race it would be condemned like nothing else! If you had whites demanding more white actors be cast in traditionally black roles they’d be painted as horrible racists! I remember the first time I ever learned about what race was I was 7 and before that I’d never thought much of it, and you know what I still don’t! I have Hispanic friends, I have Asian friends, and my best friend is half black. What happened was horrible, what happened was wrong, but I didn’t do it, my parents didn’t do it, and it’s time to move on; and making demands based around race is doing absolutely nothing to make that happen.

  15. Well, im not american… hell, im not even in the same continent, but i guess the movie should be more true to the Comics, i don’t think lex should be black, as i don’t like Nick fury black, and certainly i don’t want a white cyborg. Wonder Woman should be a Greek actress, but i guess it would be acceptable.


    • Nicky Fury being black I’m fine with because they made him Black in the Ultimate Comics and based him on Sam Jackson. So in that sense it’s the most comic accurate casting that’s ever been done. Other than that if they’re just doing it for the hell of it then I find it offensive.

  16. Bryan Cranston as Lex Luther! Remember he is the Danger!

  17. NO I am not racist but I want him white just like the comics. stick to the comics! I am so sick of hollywood changing everything and it usually sucks! I am getting so close to not seeing this movie. first its a batman VS superman…then pretty must it is a JLA and now you are changing the main villain…I hate you hollywood. you already ruined Iron Man from the last movie…Spiderman 2 looks like it will suck, now you gotta ruin this with all these changes just stop.

    • You think Iron Man was ruined in the brilliant third movie and you think ASM2 sucks when it looks even more exciting and fun than the first, which was also a great movie.

      Sorry but I don’t think I can take your opinion seriously.

  18. Well, they did have Justice League International as a UN sponsored version of the team so I’d be fine with that.

    I’m also fine with the casting choices being rumoured although a lifetime of being used to a character being drawn a certain way could cause some to reject it instantly.

  19. Micheal C. Hall as Lex Luthor

  20. What’s next Donald Glover as Jimmy Olsen?

    • That would be a pretty good choice, actually.

  21. Bruce Willis would be a great Malcom X

    • Josh Brolin for MLK.

  22. Instead of having a Latino flash (which would p@@@ me off very badly) why don’t they just use Kyle Rayner (my fav Green Lantern) who is art Latino? Instead of changing race why not use characters of that race.

    • Flash won’t be latino, he will be asian and homosexual.

  23. These guys would be better for GL Stewart. Please no Reynolds.

    • Why not Reynolds ?

  24. I don’t think Lex Luthor has to be a white guy because in some of the cartoons he was a black guy. I however don’t really see Denzel Washington in this role and even though he’s a great actor, I don’t see him being able to pull off the character and make him Lex.

  25. There’s plenty of fantastic Chinese and Bollywood actors, if it’s really about finding the “best actor” and not “race” then they should be fine as well. If that’s a problem then these actors shouldn’t work either!

  26. If they want to go the route of changing the race of a character, then go right ahead. I just want the films to be good and the characters to be done justice. Hollywood has this strange way of incorporating diversity and it causes more controversy than good. Just stick to the source material and then add new characters of different races. Everybody wins and it minimizes people taking offense.

    As for JLI, perhaps the first JL film can focus on the main roster coming together to form the group. The next movie will show core group recruiting heroes from around the world to combat a greater menace and protect Earth while the heavy hitters/strategists go into space to protect the galaxy. At least that’s how I would do it.

  27. Coby Bell

  28. It’s funny that some say “calm down, there’s no problem with changes to a charachters race”. Well, the reason it bothers me some, is because I’m a fan of what I’ve read. I’ve read Superman or years and have grown accustomed to a white Lex. Therefore on screen, id like to see a white Lex. No racism, just preference.

    • +1

    • I totally agree, I’m so sick of people crying racism when people complain about a character they like race being changed in either the name of political correctness or try to get black people to see the movie because they assume they won’t go see it unless black people are in it, now that’s racist. Would it be sexist to complain if they were remaking Harry Potter but decided to cast Kiernan Shipka as Harry?

    • +2

  29. I still prefer my choice for Lex Luthor, Lena Headey.