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. Denzel or Idris as Lex would be awesome. Personally, I would like to see Idris.
    A Hispanic or Latino Flash? I wouldn’t mind that all.
    As far as diversity, Marv Wolfman had a concept that of a Justice League of America that had a Black Superman, Batman and Robin were white, GL was Hispanic, Flash was Japanese, Greene Arrow as a Native American. So this wasn’t the first time that this attempted and Marv had it ready after The Crisis of Infinite Crisis in 1986, but it was rejected, but it was made into an alternate earth later.
    I don’t mind diversity, but keep Barry Allen white. How about having Cyborg(black) and have Kyle Rayner as GL (in early GL kyle stories it was revealed that he was half Hispanic. Hawkwoman/Hawkgirl in the New 52 is also Hispanic/Latino. The Atom could be Ryan Choi.I would be happy with that route and it brings diversity to the League especially if they expand in other films.

  2. I don’t care if he they make Luthor black. but shouldn’t he be about the same age as Superman ? I thought Gene Hackman was too old too.. but he was funny. Cranston only gets mentioned because he’s bald.. not that he would be a good Lex.. Denzel is an actor who can pretty much play anything, but he’s getting a little long in the tooth too.. Isn’t Idris Elba contracted to Marvel ? So they want black.. should be in Superman’s age-range at least.. and looks good bald… I’m going to agree with another poster here.. why not Coby Bell ?

  3. W ashington as Luthor?!You’ve got to be kidding. Sure he could do it–he’s a good actor. But enough messing with canon of any type. And while I am not biased in the least, I’ve got to say it…enough with the racial malarky. Name me a black part that has been played by a white actor….!

    • If they did that then every cbm ever will continue to be whitewashed. Get over it. You sound borderline racist.

      • I’m fine with casting black actors for white roles but don’t go out of the way to do it. Audition whoever regardless of race and pick the person who’s acting fits the role best. That being said there are certain aesthetic things that sholdn’t be changed in established characters. Luthor’s baldness can be created but you wouldn’t make him overweight, you wouldn’t make him short. However, provided it doesn’t change the character, you can make him black. But you shouldn’t make him black for the sake of making him black.

    • Jesus.

    • Jesus. There’s no way that Jesus, if he ever existed, was a white man. Yet he’s always been played in movies by white men.

  4. Please, dear God, not Denzel!!! He wouldn’t fit the part. And he’s too much of a method/character actor. Couldn’t do it. I’d take ANY of the Wayans brothers over Denzel.

    As far as a “black” Luthor? Who cares? Superman the Animated Series seemed to change him and nobody really minded it did they? And what about the Kingpin from Daredevil? Still worked.

    Denzel would be too expensive for DC to contract for several movies.

    • You think anything worked from Daredevil?

    • Have you ever seen training day?? Denzel would kick butt as lex luthor!! And as far as kinngpin from daredevil, Michael Clarke Duncan died a few months ago.

  5. So what the Hell is Hollywood’s fetish at casting established Caucasian characters with black actors?! Enough of this race based PC driven Bull$hit already. And to those simple minded surfs who “can’t believe the uproar” & don’t care? Yeah, do yourselves a favor & keep your low-information stupid to yourself.

  6. Wow goldilocks , “name a black part that has been played by a white actor.” You clearly don’t know your history. Just for a laugh, google a photo of sir Laurence Olivier in blackface playing Othello. David carradine as the Chinese kung fu master in the tv series was also a nice touch in that mode. There’s been lots more. Regardless, luthor in the justice league animated series definitely appeared to be black. Not too different from how nick fury transformed into a black man in the marvel universe. I think that the age difference is the main issue with denzel. He and superman were schoolmates.

  7. I apologize if this comment has been said over and over, but I just can’t see Denzel taking the role. To me, every role he’s in over the past few years is just Denzel playing Denzel, you know? I feel like seeing him in the role of Luthor would really take me out of the movie because I wouldn’t see Luthor; I would see Denzel trying to be Luthor.

    However, if he were cast, I would definitely give him a fair shot. I’m always open to being completely blown away by a casting choice I wouldn’t have made myself.

  8. i am looking forward to beating up this lex luthor.

  9. Man. People are so quick to cry racist when other people want to stick to canon. I feel like that’s half the reason it seems they’re only looking for a black actor: because people keep complaining about racism and lack of diversity. I’m sorry the character is white. There are plenty of characters nowadays that are of different races. Hell, the newest GL is Arab. He even has “courage” tattooed on his arm in Arabic. There’s a new rumor from the same source as the Denzel thing saying they wanna make the Flash Hispanic in the film in an effort to make the JLA “a UN of superheroes.” What purpose does that serve for the story? How does that add to the character or make it a more rich storytelling experience? It doesn’t. It’s just as racist to cast someone based solely on their skin color in pursuit of some misguided goal of diversity as it is to completely discount actors of every race except one. Jon Stewart is black, Cyborg is black, and Colin Salmon (from Arrow and also listed in this article) would be perfect for Martian Manhunter. Why force diversity when there’s plenty of opportunity already there? If the characters in a JL movie were Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter, almost half the cast could be black. My only objection to this is that it seems they’re focusing on making the actors diverse for the sole purpose of having different races instead of focusing on what is best for the character or the story. Granted, and I’ve said this before, it’s not like they made Magneto black effectively robbing him of his back story as a European Jew in a concentration camp (which is extremely important to his view of how humans treat mutants), but I think making a white character black (or any other race) undermines the importance of introducing a superhero/villain that is traditionally black (or of any other race.)

    • It’s Denzel and Idris Elba…both are very accomplished actors that have a strong presence about them. It’s not like they are only searching for any general run of the mill actor. Now, if it said Tyler Perry, you’d have a legitimate complaint. I say hire the best actor for the job regardless of race, religion, or creed.

      • Well if Denzel or Idris were just one of many different raced actors if Bryan Cranston or Josh Brolin or whoever was also being considered, I would agree with you, but since they seem to be looking to hire a black actor no matter what, they’re being considered because of their race not because they would be the best actor regardless.

        • It states that Luthor won’t necessarily be portrayed by a black actor, but the producers are currently looking at black actors. Read the article.

  10. I’m starting to be worried that next WB/DC will decide “Oh, there’s not enough women on the team, so let’s make The Flash a woman and a lesbian, and let’s make Aquaman asian.”

      • Dude, you don’t know anything about black people, and certainly have no say in what we like and don’t like. We have no issues with water and swimming. Individuals might, but not the race as any kind of collective whole. And yes, the racist comment of the day goes to you. Too bad you don’t have the ability to make the world a better place by saying something of a positive nature.

        • Check what I wrote a few comments up. This was a joke…a bad one, I’ll admit.

        • I’m black and I can’t swim to save my life

          • I’m black and swim quite well…did so competitively back in high school. stereotypes are stupid :-/ lol

    • Sorry, but that “let’s make _____ a woman/man then!” argument doesn’t work. Changing the gender of a character would effects story elements like changing the love interests around them, therefore completely changing the dynamic. On the other hand, changing the race of a character would literally effect 0% of the relationships/story lines around them in most cases.

      It’s also funny when idiots try to pull the “Then let’s make Wonder Woman, Wonder Man!” argument.

      1) That would completely change the dynamic of Wonder Woman seeing as how she’s a symbol of female empowerment, and

      2) MINORITIES/FEMALE SUPERHEROES/CHARACTERS ARE COMPLETELY F%$#@#& UNDERREPRESENTED IN THE MARVEL/DC FILM UNIVERSE. So that “Hey! If they take one of ours, we should get a White Black Panther!” comment is so childish.

      What you’re asking for is basically an all white all male film universe, which doesn’t reflect the reality of our country in 2013! Now, I’m against the idea of picking an actor just because their race, but we know damn well Denzel, and specially Idris are incredible actors. As soon as I read the headline, it just clicked in my head and I thought “That would be awesome”.

      Also, let’s not forget when Goku (aka the Superman of the Japaneze world, an important character in our culture) was white washed in that horrendous Dragon Ball adaptation, all the characters in The Last Airbender were white washed, and even Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. Actually, I loved Benedict as Khan, why? Because his portrayal of the character gave me goosebumps. These are all fictional characters that were created in a different time in history. It’s perfectly ok to mix things up 50 years later.

      • Japanese*

  11. I don’t think people who have for complaints regarding the casting of a black actor in an originally white role are racist for the most part. I just think they’re really hung up on the unimportant details of the characters.

    Lex Luthor is a self-made man. He’s an egomaniac who hides it by being overly patriotic. He’s not white. That’s not what defines him.

    Batman on the other hand, is old money. He comes from a family of rich men dating back generations ago. That, is typically white for someone in America. And his family and origin defines him.

    As for Denzel, he’s a great actor, but he’s too old for the part in my opinion. I want a Luthor who could be a physical match to Superman if he was human. I want the Luthor who is the top of the food chain, who would be the best man ever if there wasn’t any Superman.

  12. lex encompasses white republican values pretending to be for the people while he’s pretty much the villain republicans are. throw in secret societies for flavour. racism does account for some of his hatred of superman.

    this is one of those characters that shouldnt be changed. black white power? wouldnt add up.

    • but but what about Clayton Bigsby

    • That’s very interesting. I guess it depends on how “grounded” they want the character to be.

  13. Mel gibson for luther lolol seriously though, hope they just do a compelling film that drives more interest for the rapid expansion of the cinematic dc universe, then we all win.

  14. Jason Statham should play Lex Luthor. Now that’s menacing!

  15. I against a change of ethnicity for the heroes and villains. Hell I’m not even american and I still I’m for a Justice League of America like I remember it when I was young.

  16. While I like Denzel I don’t feel he would be a perfect choice. I just don’t get a Lex vibe from him.

  17. IGN just wrote there will be 2 supervillians in MOS 2 either Doomsday, Brainiac, Darkseid . Dont really see Darkseid or Doomsday in it. Hopefully it will be Brainiac, Lex and Metallo. They said no bat villians though. Oh well. Who knows how true it is.

  18. Lex Luthor is tan, not black or white.

    • Coby Bell!

  19. Thinkmcfly rumors always match up with message board superhero fan logic. Such made up crap all the time waiting to see what sticks, smh

  20. I’m a purist…. having Denzel Washington as Luthor is going to affect me the same way as if they had a blond superman… It would not fit. That being said, Denzel is a great actor.

  21. This is a new day and age, we look to the future. Michael b. Jordan playing the human torch prolly with a white sister. doesn’t take away from the story.

    • Personally, I’m not in favor of a black human torch. I’m not racist or anything, but I don’t think heroes’ races should be messed with. I’d also be upset if they made Blade a white guy in a reboot. There’s just some stuff you don’t change.

      That being said, I don’t have as much as a problem with Lex being black. But I don’t think comic book movies should go crazy in the race-changing department. Baby steps.

    • You can look to the future withOUT screwing with the past.

      Leave well established characters ALONE and go crazy with new characters.

  22. What if the black guy they are casting is Cyborg?

  23. I’m just going to quote Will Smith here (when he was offered Superman role):
    “The last Superman I got offered, the script came, and I was like, ‘There is no way I’m playing Superman!’ Because I had already done Jim West (Wild, Wild West) and you can’t be messing up white peoples’ heroes in Hollywood. You mess up white peoples’ heroes in Hollywood, you’ll never work in this town again.”

    Race-changing iconic roles (whether white to black, black to white, etc.) is unnecessary. There are so many African American heroes that can be brought to the screen without changing the race of white characters. I also don’t want to see any black characters as white guys.

    Casting should leave characters’ races as they are IMO.

    • Wow, if what you say is true, that’s a pretty offensive remark coming from Smith.

      They aren’t “white” people’s heroes. Last time I looked they belonged to everyone. Smith makes it sound as if it’s somehow not proper [being a black person] to look up to and admire a white person.

  24. Race changing of iconic characters shouldn’t be tolerated. This is not racist. When a character was created he is given distinct characteristics and it is these characteristics that make him the character we all love or love to hate in this matter. To all of you who think that getting all worked up with fictional characters is strange or going overboard, you are missing the point entirely. These fictional characters though they may be fictional are in fact “real” to those who love them. How about making Harry Potter into a 30 year old black man and put him in the same story and the same if not similar situation with the full intention of replacing what the original loved character is? Wouldn’t it bother Harry Potter fans? Not being racist doesn’t mean not being able to see color. It is what it is. If a character is white then white actors should play them. They should create new characters if they want to change the race.

    I don’t care if Spike Lee unleashes his twitter hordes on me, but if fictional beloved characters were loved as white then they need to stay white. If they were originally black then they need to stay black.