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 vs superman, man of steel, superman, superman man of steel


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  1. Okay, um to me um interesting choices? I think???
    Just wondering what you guys think about Billy Zane as Lex Luthor? I mean think about it and look at these pictures of Zane next to Luthor. Let me know please.

    • Billy Zane would be a Highly FUN Lex Luthor! He is Defintely good at playing the dastardly charming bad guy (think: Demon Knight).

    • Good choice!!

  2. Okay um to me these are some interesting choices? I think???
    Just wondering what you guys think about Billy Zane as Lex Luthor? I mean think about it and look at these pictures of Zane next to Luthor. Let me know please.

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      • *Your* grammar is awful. It says a lot if *you’re* asking her to come beforehand. You ignore the possibility of her being in a different city/country to you. You require her to be hot, but not yourself? I don’t fancy your chances.

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  3. Just wondering what you guys think about Billy Zane as Lex Luthor? I mean think about it and look at these pictures of Zane next to Luthor. Let me know please.

  4. What about Lance Reddick or Arnold Vosloo, or are these option ignoring Justice League tv show and going only for comics?

  5. This is the first time since SR has been doing this lists that I disagree with all 5 choices! Now that doesn’t mean they are bad actors whatsoever, just in my mind, not right for the role of Lex Luthor.

  6. Vin diesel as Lex!! what u guys think?

    • Its not gonna happen !

  7. People logic. If he isn’t bald he can’t play Lex Luthor. Lex’s biggest weapon is his brain and fortune not his hairline.

    • True… I don’t recall Gene Hackman being completely bald when he played Lex

      • As a matter of fact, we first see him with a wig.

        Luthor was supposed to have lost his hair during a chemistry experiment gone wrong…as a teenager.

  8. I’m late to the party, but I really think Paul Bettany could do an awesome job. He has the charisma to pull it off and has played the “bad guy” before.

  9. Jason Isaacs is an interesting choice, played a villain before one of my top list for LEX

  10. I figure if Ben Affleck is going to play Batman… might as well throw Matt Damon in there somewhere. He might make a good Lex

  11. I’d like to see Clancy Brown play Luthor. Getting a bit older but with a shave and makeup artists would be pretty convincing, since he has long voiced him.

    Then again I would roll the dice on Hamill as Joker.

  12. I would suggest Timothy Olyphant.

    He’d gone bald before as Agent 47, and he seems to have the right face for it.

    • No offence intended towards Olyphant, but I wouldn’t want him to be Lex Luthor. He’s good in Justified, but he was quite vocal about how, to him, Hitman was all about money – he wanted a lovely, new house and he got it, but had to shave his head and do some acting for a videogame movie.

      With massive superhero films like this, there are loads of actors who would really get ‘into’ the characters and I’m not sure Olyphant would be that committed.

  13. lol mathew rhys as lex would be hillarious, i think bryan cranston should play

  14. Alex:

    Just wondering what you guys what have thought about Jake Gyllenhaal as Batman? In my opinion would have fit the role better than Ben Affleck.

    • Just when I thought there couldn’t be a worse choice than Affleck, you bring up Gyllenhaal. I hope to God you were being sarcastic.

      • Amen

  15. Fassbender.

  16. Zach Galifianakis!

  17. Might as well go ahead and cast Matt Damon as Lex. Makes as much sense as Affleck. How bout a Lois Lane recast? I’m thinking Jennifer Garner. While you’re at it, recast Supes as well. Maybe Jason Mewes or Kevin Smith. Make it happen WB!

    • Wow, aren’t you so clever? Naming people who are close to Ben Affleck to also star in Man of Steel 2. Did you think that up all by yourself? Good for you.

  18. Joseph Finnes would be fantastic, and just the right age (43)

  19. Jason Isaacs is really a great choice. He would give a great performance as Lex. Guy’s genius in The Patriot and Harry Potter series. I wouldnt mind Mark Strong or Cranston though.

  20. Micheal C Hall. aka DEXter should be LEX Luthor!

  21. Well I think Michael C. Hall (aka Dexter) should be the new replace role of playing the Man of Steel’s arch-nemesis and please find a new guy actor to play Bruce Wayne/Batman aka The Dark Knight other that Ben A. because a lot of people were talking about it and don’t like at all and agree w/ the issues quotes too. Then do a switch the tile to be Superman & Batman vs. L-ex Luther for an most better title for the next of Man of Steel 2
    (2015)World’s Finest Movie. Then have Snyder & Wander Bros. to rearrange it for better improvements for the future Superman Movie to be more better. Later, thee epic battle to face against L-ex Luther and help Superman to save Lois Lane as great team of the Man of Steel & The Dark Knight saving Metropolis together.Then I loved how Henry CAVILL and Amy Adams did the did a fantastic job doing the great roles of playing Superman & Lois Lane from the 1st Man of Steel Movie. Also, I want to have Superman & Batman to team up to work together just like from Superman The Animated Series (1996-2000) Season 2 Episodes 10-12 World’s Finest (3 parts). So I’m a fan of Superman that I always go for him and like the next S sign and costume it’s almost!!!!!!!!.

  22. I vote Matthew McConaughey as Lex.


  23. Come on!! Is there a better Lex Luthor than Bryan Cranston?

  24. Fassbender,,I agree..

  25. I’ll tell ya who would make a great Lex Luthor- Daniel Craig.

  26. Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor.

  27. Michael Rosenbaum is great!!!! I wished Tom Welling had been in man of steel

  28. I say either Jason Isaacs or Billy Zane. They both could pull off the whole charming yet crazy thing.

    • Amen! lovin your choices

  29. Why has no one mentioned Bryan Cranston yet? He did just finish Breaking Bad…