There is no question that Eisenberg was an unexpected pick – listeners of the Screen Rant Underground heard our live reaction to the news – and given the lack of blockbuster roles, could be seen as a potentially risky one. We would add that Eisenberg’s casting suddenly makes Ben Affleck’s need to play a millionaire seem like a walk in the park.
We’ve already explained why the odds are good of seeing an insecure, isolated, but nonetheless determined and driven Luthor are good – and when faced with the hulking mass of Henry Cavill, neither substantial height nor weight would make Lex a serious threat – something a man as smart as Luthor wouldn’t need to find that out the hard way (not that he’d ever lower himself to throwing punches in the first place).
So if Eisenberg is going to be playing a somewhat unlikable, but intelligent and self-motivated millionaire, willing to go to some extreme ends to achieve his goal, then the actor has already earned accolades for doing just that.
It’s no surprise that people are immediately pointing to Eisenberg’s performance of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in director David Fincher’s The Social Network, given that it was his highest-profile role to date (which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor). While the honor of being nominated for an Academy Award makes him fit in even better with the rest of Snyder’s existing Superman cast – and the brand new ‘Alfred,’ Jeremy Irons – it proves he can bring what’s needed for an updated Lex.
Let’s take a look at the aspects of Eisenberg’s performance our own Kofi Outlaw chose to highlight in his review of The Social Network:
“Eisenberg… portrays Mark Zuckerberg as something of a tragically ironic figure: an acerbic genius who is totally clueless when it comes to human interaction; a guy who earns fortune and fame off a website dedicated to social circling, but has very few “real friends” to call his own.”
“Eisenberg flat-out steals just about every scene he’s in, glaring at people around him like they are nitwits, while delivering scathing insights that could make a person feel that very way. A definite standout performance that is worthy of recognition (provided people don’t find his character too unlikable).”
No explanation is needed to show why those noteworthy facets to Eisenberg’s portrayal of an unlikeable entrepreneur would serve him well for a magnate like Luthor, but the roles aren’t quite as clear-cut as some might believe. After all, an actor with as respectable a resume as Eisenberg isn’t going to simply play the same role twice.
Where Zuckerberg was an introverted, anti-social genius more at home in his sweatpants on a computer than a board room, Lex Luthor clearly has no problems with recognition. Man of Steel was filled with references to LexCorp, dotting everything from the skyline, to shipping containers; meaning Luthor is no shrinking violet in the eyes of the public.
Still, thinking back to the scathing condescension with which the character addressed those who couldn’t understand the need for social media, or skirting the line between analytical and sociopathic, the potential is there for a Lex whose intellect and confidence are his greatest weapons – tools which make larger, stronger, and less subtle men into fools, not heroes.