5 Actors Who Could Play Lex Luthor in ‘Batman vs. Superman’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:24 am, This is a list post.


Lex Luthor Casting in Man of Steel 2Along with a new (and possibly older) Batman, Superman antagonist Lex Luthor is all but a lock for the upcoming Man of Steel sequel (or, if you prefer, Batman vs. Superman). The character was teased multiple times in Zack Synder's Superman reboot - as the LexCorp logo appeared on the side of trucks and was featured on several pieces of Metropolis construction site signage - indicating that, even though General Zod was the main focus in round one, Luthor was already hard at work building an empire in this new Superman universe.Since the character did not actually appear in Man of Steel, the rumor mill is hard at work churning out possible names that could be in consideration for the part - Mark Strong (Green Lantern) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) being the most recent actors that have been name dropped as possibilities. However, being up for a role (assuming the rumors are true), is very different from actually being cast. Is it possible that one of the two could eventually get the part? Yes. Is it a guarantee at this point? No.As a result, we've put together a list of 5 actors (not including Strong and Cranston) that would make for an interesting Lex Luthor in Batman vs. Superman. Of course the list is not all-inclusive, so once you've had a chance to read our picks, share your ideas in the comments.

Jason Isaacs

Jason Isaacs Lex LuthorAs we've previously discussed, the version of Lex Luthor that will appear in Man of Steel isn't likely to pose a physical threat to Batman or Superman - though he might eventually build an Obadiah Stane/Iron Man-like suit of armor. Instead, Snyder's Luthor will likely be using a combination of behind-the-scenes maneuvering and a charismatic public face to manipulate the people of Metropolis into turning against the big blue boy scout - helping Luthor (and LexCorp) gain power and influence.Therefore, charm and charisma will be instrumental for this "more grounded" version of the villain - and Jason Isaacs' past filmography includes plenty of nuanced performances that tiptoed the line between empathy and malevolence. While his high profile performance as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series allowed for some moral gray areas, it is the actor's stellar work in the TV series Awake, along with films like The Patriot, that serve as a proof of the gravitas that Isaacs could bring to Luthor.The actor has also sported a bald pate on screen before (in 2001's Black Hawk Down). Meaning that superfans would have their cake and get to eat it too - since Isaacs could offer solid acting talent and wouldn't force Snyder into compromising on the character's iconic (read: hairless) look.

Jason Clarke

Jason Clarke Lex LuthorOf course, there's no guarantee that Snyder's Lex Luthor will be bald. While the character's hairless look is iconic, certain versions of the character have allowed for hair (and even a beard). We already know that Snyder is willing to alter key aspects of Superman characters and the larger mythos, meaning that the "would he look good bald?" question might not be a prerequisite for the director's Lex Luthor casting sheet. If a potential actor could strike an especially convincing balance between charm and menace in the role, would it matter if he didn't go bald?To that point, Jason Clarke has yet to appear on screen with a shaved head but has the potential for an interesting take on Lex Luthor. Slightly younger (at age 44) than some of the actors rumored to be in consideration, Clarke would be a strong choice if Snyder wanted to portray a version of the character that's still in the process of building his empire (and allowing Luthor somewhere to grow in future films).Instead of an aging businessman whose evil-doing ways are sparked by the appearance of Superman (and devastation of Metropolis), Clarke's Luthor could be a brash and inspiring neophyte on the fast track to power and success. A man who is willing to sacrifice Superman in the court of public opinion to raise his own personal profile. Not to mention someone that's willing to resort to nefarious tactics in the process - after all, Clarke is responsible for some of the most disturbing torture scenes ever put to film (in Zero Dark Thirty).

Mads Mikkelsen

Mads Mikkelsen Lex LuthorChristopher Nolan was pretty careful about casting performers in his Dark Knight trilogy that did not fit into an established mold (Heath Ledger and Anne Hathaway, among others) - and it's an approach that Snyder embraced in hiring for Man of Steel. Instead of seeking out potential actors known for one villainous turn after another, Snyder cast Michael Shannon as General Zod - a performer who doesn't always play an evil psychopath. Still, it's unfair to outright discount every actor that has already proven their mettle in a captivating evildoer role - and these days, no one plays charming but deadly like Mads Mikkelsen.While Mikkelsen has experimented with his fair share of "normal" characters (relatively speaking), there's no doubt he's best known for his roles as Bond villain Le Chiffre (Casino Royal) and a younger version of the titular cannibal on NBC's Hannibal. He might not be the most obvious choice for Luthor but Mikkelsen has won over a lot of skeptics by making his Hannibal Lecter engaging and even empathetic (to both on screen characters and outside audience members) - despite being a sadistic, flesh-eating, serial killer.It's a delicate balance that will be instrumental in making a more grounded Luthor work - since audiences will need to believe that the good people of Metropolis can't see past a likable and inspiring public persona to the ruthless and calculating super villain at the center.

Jude Law

Jude Law Lex LuthorEasily the most famous (and probably controversial) choice on our list, Jude Law has been prolific enough that he wouldn't be too closely tied to a well known role - allowing him to disappear into Lex Luthor without drawing comparisons to prior parts on his resume. In fact, Law's only recurring franchise character (so far) is Dr. John Watson in Guy Ritchie's modern Sherlock Holmes film series - a part that would be significantly different from the yet-to-be-revealed Man of Steel villain.Still, in order to win the trust and love of Metropolis, Luthor would need to be a man of the people, a philanthropist that could stand shoulder to shoulder with Bruce Wayne (possibly cutting the ribbon at a new LexCorp and Wayne Enterprises-sponsored children's hospital) - all while flashing an inviting smile at reporters and the assembled crowd.Obviously, Law has the charm for the part, but he's also no stranger to a bully pulpit, especially in the case of his venomous opportunist Alan Krumwiede in Contagion - who sacrificed countless innocents by spreading misinformation for personal fame and financial wellbeing. For that reason, Law shouldn't have a hard time playing a convincing and captivating super villain snake in the grass - a person willing to harm others in order to advance his own agenda or an attempt to rid Earth of Superman (who a more relatable Luthor might perceive as threat to humanity).

Matthew Rhys

Matthew Rhys Lex LuthorDespite casting some big name actors in iconic roles for Man of Steel, including Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, and Laurence Fishburne, Snyder also made smart use of some lesser-known names. The Superman reboot essentially put Antje Traue (Faora-Ul) on the map and introduced casual moviegoers to Michael Shannon - even though the actor has been active on the big and small screen for over two decades.Accordingly, it's certainly possible that Snyder will also go with a fresh face for Lex Luthor - instead of a high profile star. If that's the case, Matthew Rhys could be an interesting pick - since the actor has received strong critical praise for his role as two-faced KGB agent, Phillip Jennings, on FX's critically acclaimed series The Americans.It's unlikely that Luthor will be treated as a one-off villain - and any antagonistic part he plays in Batman vs. Superman is doubtful to be his last appearance. Whoever is cast in the role is guaranteed to factor into the larger DC movie universe at it develops and expands - meaning that a less familiar face like Rhys could a) be cheaper and b) bring something entirely fresh to the role. Looking the part is fine, but with actors like Cranston on the rise, why wouldn't Snyder at least consider giving a comparative unknown a shot? Especially if it would prevent comparisons between Lex Luthor and an extremely popular character like, for instance, Walter White?


Lex Luthor Casting in Man of Steel 2That concludes our list of actors who could play Lex Luthor in Batman vs. Superman. It's certainly possible that Mark Strong, Bryan Cranston, or a yet-to-be revealed name might ultimately sign-on as Luthor for the upcoming DC Comics sequel - not to mention play a large part in the longterm Justice League shared universe.Still, you have to admit that at least a few of our picks, while unconventional, could help make Zack Snyder's version of Lex Luthor escape the campy and one-dimensional (albeit enjoyable) iterations of the character that have been seen previously on the big screen.What version of Luthor would you like to see in Batman vs. Superman? Are you hoping for a more traditional portrayal? As mentioned the list is not all-inclusive, so share your picks, reactions, and thoughts in the comments.___Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman will be released in 2015.Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on Batman vs. Superman as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
TAGS: batman, batman v superman, man of steel, superman, superman man of steel


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  1. Jude Law? Minus the internet.

  2. Jude freaking Law ? Are you drunk Screenrant ? O_o

  3. Bryan Cranston please.

    • Cranston is a spittin image of Commissioner James Gordon from the comics!

      That would be a perfect role for him to step in play if they ever pick up another Batman film franchise!

    • does anybody know how tall he is

      • Listed as 6′ 1½” (1.87 m) on IMDB. FWTW

        • just wanted to see if he’s taller than cavill

          • Roughly the same, looks like it.

  4. I’m a fan of Jason Clarke being Luthor, can’t believe I didn’t think of that.

    • +1 Both him and Isaacs are good choices.

  5. I love Jude Law as an actor… But Lex is wrong for him in the Man of Steel universe. Marvel villain, sure…

    • What about Jude Law as Constantine in Guillermo del Toro’s Justice league dark

      • I thought Justice League Dark was just a bedtime story you told to DC fans?

        You mean it’s real?

        • it’s just rumors now but lets just hope it does happen

          • I’m with you on that. Justice League Dark is probably the best thing to come out of the New 52 other than Aquaman. Guillermo writing/directing makes it even more epic.

  6. what about john Malcovich? he can do both the crazy and bald

  7. Jason Isaacs! Loved him in Awake (RIP. NBC is the worst, right?) and now that you’ve pointed him out, I can totally see it!

    • Awake was an all-time favorite of mine.
      Jason Isaacs was phenomenal on that show.

    • I’m surprised I didn’t think of Jason Isaacs either. He was great in Awake, and now that I look at him and think of his villainous turns, he could definitely play Luthor well.

  8. You had me at Mads.

  9. Jude Law hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  10. Jude Law has a certain light-heartedness to his voice, he’s more suited to someone like The Joker or The Riddler.

    Lex Luthor? Nah, I don’t see it.

  11. Mads? Good Lord, Sirs. Being a somewhat ‘Hannibal’ stalker/nut and indeed, a man crush on Mads for pretty much all of his career (‘The Hunt’ was an extraordinary piece of work), this has set of a perhaps uncomfortable fantasy. Frankly, to the extent where if it doesn’t happen I may not want to see the movie.

    So, kudos on the left field, shame on you for the expectation it has set off.

  12. Jason Isaacs would be cool…but it has to be Mark Strong for me

  13. I say jason clarke and lets end the traditio.n of lex beimg balled. Jason clarke is a scene stealer

    • I don’t recall ever seeing Lex Luthor being balled in a movie. Let’s hope and pray they keep with that tradition. :)

      • smh…

  14. Out of the proposed I’d chose Jason Isaacs who
    could play a charming yet lethal Lex in a heartbeat.

    Jude Law sure is an interesting outside of the box choice
    but probably one that would need Nolan as director
    who would no doubt find a way for it to work.

    In the not quite so outside the box category I’d put
    Liev Schreiber who you know would deliver as Lex.

    • *choose

    • I have to say I am very intrigued by Liev Schreiber. Nice choice.

      • Thanks. Nice to see you are intrigued, John.
        Liev would be fascinating to see as Lex Luthor.

  15. i think Mads Mikkelsen would actually be perfect. he plays a villain very well

  16. Mads Mikkelsen? That would be interesting…

    Bryan Cranston would still be my first choice, however.

  17. I like Bryan Cranston a lot, but I just can’t see him as Lex at all. Mark strong could work, but he seems overused in that type. I really like the idea of Jason Isaacs, yet still I feel like the actual casting will come out of left field ala Heath Ledger as the Joker.

  18. Stanly Tucci as Lex Luthor. Jon Hamm as old Batman. Done.

  19. My favourite is still Jason Isaacs, he’s the only one in this list that looks intimidating/menacing and on top of that he’s a great actor that deserves some more higher profile roles.
    But any actor they choose would be better then the awfull performance of Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor

  20. Instantly take Jude Law out of the list.

  21. My pics for Lex Luthor strictly on looking the part would be either Mark Strong or Stanley Tucci

    • Stanley Tucci? Interesting. I like him, but I don’t think he’d be right for the role. Not sure why, maybe it’s because he’s short. He’s only 5’8”. However, I suppose if camera tricks and movie magic can work with Tom Cruise, they can work with anyone…

  22. Rosenbaum

    • I thought he was one of the best Luthors on screen but he’s had around 5 seasons to play him. I say give the reigns to someone else and see what they can offer.

  23. It’s time for a female Lex Luthor, Lena Headey

    • Don’t…Don’t you dare give them any ideas

    • Maybe the reason Superman’s eyes can glow red is that he’s a Terminator?

  24. Isaacs is a good choice. I still think Strong already has it. It was rumored that Synder wanted him for it back in July. But who knows?

  25. My pic for a younger Luthor would be Eion Bailey, and my pic for an older Luthor would be Clive Owen. For an actor choice from that is passed, would be Yul Brynner.

    • Hmm, Clive Owen could be great as Lex.

  26. Is it just me or does Jason Isaacs look like a total bada** in that photo? He wasn’t even on my radar I was leaning towards Mark Strong or Cranston maybe but seeing him with a shaved head in that pic makes me curious.

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