9Luthor and Senator Barrows
It is clear that what director Zack Snyder and actor Jesse Eisenberg were going for with this newest incarnation of Lex Luthor was an electric, off-the-wall performance generally along the lines of Heath Ledger’s iconic turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight. While it’s open for
debate just how successful the attempt was, Luthor is – at least writ small, in specific scenes – a mesmerizing presence, one that is able to simultaneously play innocent and creepy, aloof and intensely present.
Perhaps the best scene to embody this dichotomy is when the billionaire CEO attempts to petition Senator Barrows (Dennis North) to grant him access to a litany of highly classified materials, starting with access to both General Zod’s (Michael Shannon) corpse and the crashed Kryptonian scout ship and ending with the importing of a large quantity of Kryptonite that’s been discovered in the Indian Ocean. It’s clear that Barrows is rather smitten with Luthor but also plainly intimated – such as when he allows the other to insert a Jolly Rancher into his mouth (“Come on – it’s cherry,” Lex says in his hard-to-read sing-song voice). That Luthor licks his fingers afterwards is both a declaration of dominance and a statement of his erratic, off-kilter personality – the perfect summation of his character.