Although its theatrical run has just about finished winding down, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice continues to be a hotly debated blockbuster. What was meant to be a crowd-pleasing kickoff for the DC Extended Universe instead divided fans and critics alike, and its earnings at the box office (despite still grossing respectable numbers overall) are reported to have caused a wave of corporate and producer shake-ups at Warner Bros.
Among the most contentious elements of the film was Jesse Eisenberg’s turn as a very different Lex Luthor — and now, the actor is speaking out about his performance.
Speaking at MCM Comic Con in London, Eisenberg broke months of (relative) silence about his take on the character, which had been a source of concern for some fans from the start. After the film’s release the character was met with criticism, with some suggesting Eisenberg’s take on the DC villain was too similar to his performance as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. For his part, Eisenberg offered another take:
“What I wanted to do with the character is kind of what I want to do in this play, which is I want to humanise these people that you have seen … dehumanized. I wanted to make these people real and relatable and interesting and engaging, not just, you know, a surface bad person. To me, the most interesting acting is when actors can bring you into that other side of the person. When you feel like you are not just seeing the kind of purpose of them for plot. That they are not just delivering a message. They’re actually showing you humanity. And that’s what I tried to do with that character. Whether or not I succeeded or failed depends on your subjective opinion on what you think of people like that. That’s my goal as an actor.”
While Eisenberg’s interpretation of the character is different from any previous incarnation of the character, Lex Luthor remains among the most frequently re-interpreted villains in the DC canon. Originally an all-purpose “mad genius” archetype whose sole vocation involved defeating Superman in order to continue his criminal schemes unabated, he took on myriad roles (including, retroactively, childhood friend of Superman) before being retconed into an evil corporate schemer in the mid-1980s.
It remains to be seen what the future will hold for Eisenberg and Luthor in the DCEU films. While Dawn of Justice concludes with Luthor heralding greater threats to come, plans for the franchise’s story may to be changing in the wake of ongoing personnel maneuverings at the studio. At this time, Eisenberg believes he will return for Justice League, but plans for an official Man of Steel sequel — where Luthor might also be expected to appear — are yet unclear.
Suicide Squad will hit theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.
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