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

Published 1 year ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:24 am, This is a list post.

Introduction

Lex Luthor Casting in Man of Steel 2 Along 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 Luthor As 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 Luthor Of 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 Luthor Christopher 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 Luthor Easily 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 Luthor Despite 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?

Conclusion

Lex Luthor Casting in Man of Steel 2 That 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 vs superman, man of steel, superman, superman man of steel

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  1. Mark Strong
    Vin Diesel
    Dwayne Johnson

    • Diesel and the Rock are too buff, and neither of them is exactly a fantastic actor, IMO.

      • Rock’s probably the most charismatic man I’ve ever seen when he’s able to let loose and due to that, he needs to be a smartass and likable hero rather than a cold and ruthless villain.

        • get your head checked

    • Diesel? Dwayne??
      You do realize that Lex is a genius level intellect right?
      LOL to your shortlist except for Strong.

  2. Currently out of this list I’d go with Jason Isaacs.

    But my own choice would definitely be Michael C Hall. He has the look and imo equally important: the voice for it. I think Lex needs a strong authoritative thick American accent. Don’t think someone like Law could pull that off.

    I kinda also would like to see what Leo DiCaprio would do with it, more from an experimental angle.

    • You have a good point.

    • And Clark is an all American farm-boy from Kansas played by…a Brit!

  3. What about Billy Corgan? KIDDING.

    Jude Law I do not see. I wouldn’t mind being surprised by someone, though.

    • peter gabriel if we’re gonna go the musicians route!

  4. I think is sacs is the best choice overall!next is law ,while strong needs to stay sinestro.

  5. Jeff bridges anyone?

    • Obadiah Stain Luthor.

  6. Great list, Ben. I applaud you for actually choosing actors who you think can best pull off the role, rather than just thinking of actors who are bald or typically playing bald characters. Ya know guys, it’s not that difficult to shave your head!

    I still like Strong the best, but out of your list, Isaacs is for sure my favorite. Clarke is another interesting choice.

  7. Michael Rosenbaum plays Lex Luther pretty good in Smallville. I would like to see him in Batman vs Superman

    • He is clearly the only choice

    • yah thats what i’m thinking just bring back Rosenbaum. Watch him in season 4 that one episode shows how good of a Lex he makes.

  8. brian craston (breaking bad) anyone ?

    • Did you even read the article?

    • He’s actually already been rumored. So suck it internet. Bryan Cranston is a great actor and if he can play a range from Hal in Malcolm in the Middle to Heisenberg, then he definitely can play Lex Luthor. Plus, we have already seen him bald.

      • Yeah, I know. Which is why I said “Did you even read the article?” Because in the introduction, it mentions how Cranston is someone who’s already rumored.

        • I think he means Cranston is who he’d like to see in the role, i also think he’d could pull it off with flying colours, not only that i think Cranston could do it without making the character being similar to walter white :)

  9. .

  10. Wat a list i said yesturday jason issacs for lex nd luke evans for batman.i luv hannibal so mads would be fine also jason clarke who was in the brotherhood wit jason issacs would fit.all three can play a guy that looks nd seems normal nd then is extremly evil.but just from issacs character in the brotherhood nd how he goes crazy towards the end i think he could be good for the joker if he dosnt get this.like the joker from the red hood(he did ras al ghouls voice in that film)

  11. I just want Benedict Cumberbatch to be Brainiac :)

    • Perfect.

  12. None of them, the only right choice is Michael Rosenbaum…

    • Erik…

      Your loyalty to Rosenbaum is sweet but wasted. Rosenbaum was part of the “Smallville” universe…he will NOT be brought back as the same character in completely different version of the story. Move on; otherwise, you will seem like a simpleton…

      BTW, I loved him as Lex, but his time in the role has passed.

      • Isaacs does seem like he could pull off the sinister gravitas necessary for a great Lex portrayal…

  13. I had never thought of Jason Isaacs for the roll but now he is the only one I can picture in my head as Luthor.

    • totally agree… never thought of jason isaacs. especially watching how sinister he can be, Lucius Malfoy, and seeing him look natural with the bald look I’m SOLD!!

      • He’s ruthless in Soldier then shows moments of absolute cowardice when confronted face to face, something similar to Lex when he’s threatened and unable to push back with a suit or armor or weapon of some kind to give him the advantage.

      • You think he’s sinister as Lucius? You have to watch him in The Patriot, he’s menacing in that film. Gives a great performance.

  14. in order of preference
    Mads Mikkelsen
    Jason clarke
    Bryan Cranston

  15. Mikkelson is too villainous and seedy/sickly-looking. He doesn’t look like someone anyone can rally behind in his “political campaigns”.

    Jacobs seems to nice and down to earth to play a truly powerful, driven character. He seems like a “regular guy capable of being an asshole if need be”.

    Jude Law really doesn’t fit the profile to me. He seems just…soft-ish. Like Mikkelson, not exactly someone who will rally others, unless they’re the outcast underdogs. It seems like him to Luthor is similar to Gordon-Levitt as Batman. Just don’t fit the character too well. Law WOULD be good if they had him as a twist villain, but not a constant hardline opposer.

    Matthew Rhys does seem like a potential dark horse like and for the same reasons that you guys mentioned.

    But Jason Isaacs. He is an awesome choice. Sure he is known for playing the villains, but he does them so well and nuanced that i would love watching him play the man who seeks to destroy Superman from multiple invisible – and not so invisible – angles. Especially if he plays someone we could almost root for.

  16. Don’t think Jason Clarke would shave his head, but he’s an awesome pick.

  17. Before I get roasted here. Keanu Reeves. We know he is amazing in martial arts (The Matrix) can be brooding (Street Kings)!

  18. I love Matthew Rhys in the Americans and I actually think he would give us a GREAT LL!!
    There are many that ppl want but I have a feeling that Snyder will go with an unknown or relatively unknown, Rhys could pull it off!

  19. Faran Tahir would be a wonderful Lex Luthor. He looks almost exactly like Lex Luthor, first of all, and he has played dastardly, even villainous characters. Some would say his presence in “Iron Man” excludes him, but it’s not like actors have never been recycled before. Besides, he looks great in a suit.

  20. Christopher Walken for Alfred, Scranters.
    ^^This is on us.
    We need to make this happen.

    #WalkenisAlfred

    • Omg Walken as Alfred, brilliant!

      “Bruce… If you… would like to… take… the… you know ….batmobile… You’d betta… uhm… make sure too… you know… fill the tank.”

      • I’d pay top dollar to see that ****!

      • awesome!

    • “The sun is set. The stars shine in the sky. The night air is tinged with anticipation. And it is time once again to meet…Alfred Pennyworth.”

      “More Bat-bell, please.”

      But seriously, what about Max Schreck?

    • “Bruce…you’re a man. A Bat…man.
      Clark? He’s Super. But he’s a Super-MAN Bruce. You’re both men… and in that… you are equals. You’re a Bat. He’s Super. Next time, throw him out of a bigger window. Until then, you’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

  21. Bruce Willis…think about it

    • i said that myself on a thread a week ago. he would be great. he needs a new franchise. die hard is dead, he needs to be the villain for now, sign him for a 3 pic deal. 2 min. i know he’s expensive but he has been in
      some $h!++y DTV films (look on netflix) so he must be going cheap now.

    • NO! Willis is past his prime. These days, I feel like he doesn’t really care about 9 out of 10 of his movies, and it shows in his “performances”.

      Just because an actor is bald doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for Lex.

    • Kevin Smith made the same suggestion and he had a HORRIBLE experience working with Willis on Cop Out. Smith’s argument is good. Willis can be charming and a maniac at the same time. Truly not a bad idea but might be too big of a name for Snyder.

  22. Chris Pine.Have yet to hear the ideal choice though.

  23. Christian Bale is Reportedly Offered $50 Million To Reprise Batman!!

    • Nah, the quote goes:

      “He could probably make $50 million for being in the movie 20 minutes,” my friend [who worked on The Dark Knight Rises and many other films produced by Legendary Pictures] observed. “And it would be worth every penny to the studio.” Sources close to Christian Bale have reportedly begun expressing their suspicions that Bale now views the Batman films in the same light that Robert Downey, Jr. views the Iron Man films.

      That’s speculation

    • Source?

  24. Michael Rosenbaum

  25. Jason Isaacs is an excellent actor – he is terrific in Case Histories on the BBC – I personally hope he plays either Batman or Lex – he is really charismatic

  26. Mads Mikkelsen is one of my favorite actors today,and LOVE him on Hannibal,but I just don’t see him as Lex.The accent alone,which I’ve yet to see him be able to shed,would seem to hold him back.

    How about Billy Crudup? I could easily see him in the role.

    Surprised that Timothy Olyphant isn’t on this list.He seems to be a solid choice,plus we already know what he would pretty much look like as Lex.

    Ryan Gossling would be the final choice that I would go with.

    • Billy Crudup, at first I was like oooh yeaaah, then I looked him up and the first thing I thought was damn… that guy looks a lot like Henry Cavill imo… Especially in his younger years. So don’t think that’d be smart imo…

      I respect your out of the box thinking, but personally if I saw Gosling bald in that role I’d friggin laugh my guts out. I just, I I can’t see him taking himself seriously in that role and it makes me not be able to either.

      I used to peg Gosling as Batman but I since realised Gosling is actually way more suited for a little dry humour, if he’s at all fit for it. So I’d peg Gosling as Flash actually, because he can also get very serious if he needs to Apart from that, if he can’t in some way kinda be like “Really? You’re all really this serious?” I can’t see him doing anything in this world tbh…

  27. Terry O’Quinn can make an awesome role playing Lex Luther… That’s who I pick ?

  28. Why oh,why does every one hang on Lex being bald? The reason he is Superman’s arch is because he is everything Clark isn’t: Sneaky, maniacal,racist. He’s his Moriarty. If you can find that in an actor you can shave anyone down.

  29. Of these, I’d go with Jason Issacs.

    However, my choice would be Jon Hamm. I think he’d pull off both the suave businessman, as well as the narcissistic sociopath.

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