Now that Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman is back in the news (as if it ever really left), what better time for one of the most divisive casting choices to speak up about what brought them to the project? In all the excitement surrounding the reveal of Ben Affleck’s new Batsuit, movie fans might have forgotten that Jesse Eisenberg’s ‘Lex Luthor’ will also appear. While he may not be as imposing as Batman, Eisenberg has spoken on what drew him to the film, and what fans can expect from his character.
After the presence of Lexcorp and Luthor were teased in Man of Steel, it went without saying that Superman’s arch-enemy would be set to appear in the sequel. But no matter what fans expected, Warner Bros. stunned each and every one of them when Jesse Eisenberg landed the role. We made our case for why the surprise casting could be a good thing, but until now few details about the character have been released.
Speaking with IGN regarding his upcoming film The Double, the conversation inevitable turned to his role in what will be one of Summer 2016’s biggest events. So, what sense does Eisenberg have of just how different Zack Snyder’s vision of Luthor will be this time around? He may not be the expert to answer that question – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing:
“I don’t know really how different this — I don’t know the history as well as the people making the movie, so I guess it’s up to them to figure out how much they want to separate it from previous incarnations. But I will treat it like it’s its own role. There’s no way to play the history of the character played by other people, unless you do some kind of wink, but that doesn’t seem like a responsible way to act. So I will just do it as though it’s a character, in the same way you do a movie like The Double, which is a smaller movie — but you just kind of treat it like a character, and that’s probably the best course of action, I think.”
Comic book fans generally like to hear that the actors selected to play iconic characters have some familiarity with the role beforehand, but then, Eisenberg’s casting in itself was a sign that Zack Snyder wasn’t sticking to convention with Batman vs. Superman. And there may be wisdom to his words, since director Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006) was one large homage/wink/nostalgia trip to Richard Donner’s films (something Singer admits wasn’t what mass audiences hoped for).
Still, as one of the few people who have actually had a chance to hear what direction Snyder and writer David S. Goyer are taking their DC movie universe, Eisenberg’s thoughts on this version of Lex Luthor carry weight. His comments may not reveal much, but those hoping the young actor’s casting in a superhero blockbuster will have a predictable outcome may be in for surprise:
“The character’s really good, so it’s like doing anything else. They make a lot of those movies, so if you’re an actor in things, you will probably cross paths with it at some point. But the character’s written really well. It’s a really great role. The fact that it’s in a big movie, you know, it seems like a character that would be in any kind of movie. It just happens to be in a bigger, flashier kind of thing.”
There’s no question that actors who avoid comic book adaptations are a dying breed, as Warner Bros. alone has almost a dozen projects in development, and both Marvel and DC have featured established actors in impressive roles. It was assumed from the very start that Snyder and Goyer would seek to ground the rest of DC’s heroes and villains as they had with Man of Steel‘s Kal-El, so Eisenberg’s claim that Lex Luthor could appear in any film – not one inspired by a comic book – confirms the suspicion.
With Eisenberg’s role in Batman vs. Superman still unknown (in terms of size or significance) it’s difficult to tell which past versions of the character will be drawn upon for inspiration. As Eisenberg points out, the filmmakers are the ones to ask about that – but they won’t be speaking any time soon.
For now, do these comments raise your hopes that Lex Luthor may be more believable than ever, or were you hoping to see a dose of maniacal billionaire in Eisenberg’s performance?
Batman vs. Superman is scheduled for May 6, 2016.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.