Every movie needs a villain. Without a villain, a story lacks conflict and without conflict, that story will rapidly fade then die. When our villains are human, we audience members often have a tendency to forget that these characters are people who are more than just an evil pit stop on the way to the hero’s eventual redemption.
It goes without saying that the more human a villain is, the more frightening they are. Sometimes to achieve this with more familiar characters, new approaches must be taken and as such, famed Superman nemesis Lex Luthor is the perfect example.
When Jessie Eisenberg was revealed as Luthor in the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, many weren’t (and still aren’t) happy. Eisenberg’s profile doesn’t exactly scream “super-villain”, but in a new interview with the LA Times both he and director Zack Snyder spoke about why this new version of Lex is frightening – and why Eisenberg himself has felt a bit disturbed by the role:
"The only difference between this movie and everything else I've ever been in is this has an audience that has prior expectations, and that's the only thing that I find disconcerting because it feels like some people are occasionally ready to get angry at me for the part they haven't seen me play yet. It's bewildering."
This time around, Luthor will be given more of a chance to develop as a character onscreen, with backstory thrown in that will help audiences learn more about the cold, calculated methods of the man himself.
"The character has a core of reality. [Luthor] has a back story that's tragic and an emotional inner life that's authentic. That's in the movie."
Snyder has clearly long since seen something in Eisenberg that detractors have yet to see and his confidence in Eisenberg’s ability to play the role comes down to understanding exactly who Lex Luthor is.
"I feel like once [Eisenberg] found out who Lex was he embraced it. Once you kind of start digging into Lex, it's a bit of a scary thing to be that guy. I don't think he just goes 'Oh, I'll just be that guy and then when I go home I'm not him.' I think the thing with Jessie is he wasn't immune to the reality of playing a super-scary character."
And as for the controversy over the full head of hair we’ve seen Eisenberg sporting in stills and trailers? Eisenberg is careful not to reveal too much.
"When you see the movie, you'll see. It's the greatest scene that I've ever gotten to take part in — it accounts for the change in hair."
As an actor, Jessie Eisenberg has always been capable of exuding a sort of cold, withdrawn attitude. This no doubt, will be honed for the portrayal of Lex Luthor. All characters must be permitted the space to grow and if that means making what some may consider drastic changes, then so be it – otherwise, what’s the point of bringing these characters to life onscreen?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 23, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern on June 19, 2020. The Superman and Batman solo films have release dates TBD.
Source: LA Times