When actor Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Lex Luthor for Zack Snyder's upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, it was just the latest casting move to become a lightning rod for controversy, after Ben Affleck's Batman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. We've already made our case for why The Social Network star could work as Superman's arch nemesis, but there's a vocal number of fans that still need convincing he's the right man for the job.
One of the biggest points of contention has been whether or not the Oscar nominee will go bald to attain Luthor's classic look from the comics. Earlier rumors based on set reports indicated that Eisenberg's young, trendy Lex would have a full mane of long, dirty blond hair. However, we still haven't seen what Eisenberg will look like in the Man of Steel followup (officially, that is), making it hard to judge the validity of those rumors.
Now, thanks to a leaked set photo, we do have our first look of Eisenberg on location. Unfortunately, he's covering his head, so fans still won't be able to tell what this version of Luthor looks like.
— Henry Cavill (@HenryCavillNews) August 31, 2014
The collage features a number of Batman V Superman actors, including Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Scoot McNairy, and Tao Okamoto (who is rumored to be playing Luthor's bodyguard Mercy Graves). Eisenberg makes his appearance at the top; his face barely recognizable as he holds a towel over his head.
In their report, ComicBookMovie speculated that since Eisenberg was covering his head, he may have been trying to hide the fact that he will indeed be bald by the time March 2016 rolls around. However, there's nothing there in the set photo to confirm or deny the status of Eisenberg's locks. He very easily could be sporting a full head of hair (as CBM also notes) and is just using the towel to provide some shade on a hot summer's day.
While the photo itself is fairly insignificant when it comes to offering hard facts about production on Batman V Superman, it's worth bringing up to once again open the discussion of how faithful the looks of comic book adaptations should be when translating page to film.
It's worth mentioning that in his earliest appearances, Luthor in the comics did have hair, before it was burned off in a laboratory accident. So if Eisenberg isn't bald from the beginning, Snyder isn't exactly going against the source material. There's always the possibility that the actor makes the transition over the course of the movie.
That said, in the grand scheme of things, is it really that important that Luthor is bald or is it more of a priority to get his characterization right? As noted in a recent episode of the Screen Rant Underground podcast, superhero filmmakers take artistic liberties with their source comics all the time; it's more vital to stay true to the spirit of the original material. This was what James Gunn did for Guardians of the Galaxy and that film just became the most successful of 2014.
The aforementioned set reports detailed the new Luthor's personality, saying that he is going to be a "slimy businessman" that moviegoers are going to "despise." Eisenberg himself elaborated on the script, calling Lex "complicated and modern." To us, that seems like the kind of stuff we'd want to see out of an evil billionaire with an anti-Superman agenda, hair or not.
When it's all said and done, that's how the success of Batman V Superman will be determined. Did Snyder accurately update the spirit of the Luthor character for the 21st century and is Eisenberg the right thespian for the job? Based on what we know so far, the man who portrayed Mark Zuckerberg - another complicated billionaire who was pretty easy to hate - to rave reviews should be able to handle it whether he's wearing a bald cap or has his curly hair for everyone to see. That's all that matters.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters March 25, 2016.
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