This February has come to be known as the "month of Deadpool" for many comic fans, but it also means Zack Snyder's highly anticipated superhero epic, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, is right around the corner. With the film's release so close, each passing day has brought with it a steady flow of rumors, interviews, and new advertising. Although the recently released final trailer has fans buzzing louder than ever, the film is still certainly not without its controversies.
For one, Jesse Eisenberg's casting as Superman's archenemy, Lex Luthor, has many fans worried. Often depicted as a middle-aged and fully formed adversary, the latest iteration of the billionaire owner and CEO of Lexcorp is a very different character than the one readers have grown accustomed to over the years. As seen in recent advertisements, Luthor possesses a charming public persona, similar to the facade Bruce Wayne puts on to cover up his more personal (and sincere) ambitions. This version of Lex may want to raise Metropolis from the ashes, but he'll almost certainly not be comfortable doing so while sharing the spotlight with the Man of Steel.
Eisenberg has stated previously it was the complexity of the character which drove him to take the part. And in a recent interview with Playboy, he spoke again about Luthor's complicated sense of morality:
"The character is in line with what audiences want to see now, which is a more modern, psychologically realistic concept of Lex Luthor. His motivations are multifaceted; he has a way of using language that’s specific to the way his mind works; he struggles with interesting philosophical dilemmas like that of the individual having too much power, even if that individual is using that power for good. For instance, Superman has so far been using his powers to do some good, but is it safe to have someone like that walking the streets? It’s great that all of this happens in the context of a very exciting superhero movie."
It has been known for some time that Eisenberg would not play the sort of straightforward bad guy some audiences have come to expect from superhero films, and the fact that the 32-year-old actor is going to such lengths to ground his character in reality should assuage fears DC fans have had over whether or not the American Ultra star is up to the task.
Later in the interview, Eisenberg went on to talk about his experience working with his BvS co-stars, Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill:
"They’re both very smart, funny people. They were wonderful to work with because we were all sort of adjusting things to make the scenes as good as they could be. Henry has already played Superman in another movie so he has such a strong idea of his character. That was fun for me because I could play with that. Ben Affleck is also very sharp. Doing this was a lot of fun because the three of us like to improvise, changing dialogue and all. But it was also strange for me: I have a lot of respect for both of them and yet my character mocks them both a lot in the movie. But that was just the nature of the thing."
Expectations for the second chapter of the DC Extended Universe are high, and Eisenberg's performance as Lex Luthor will surely be one of the most heavily scrutinized elements of the film. Only time will tell whether or not the actor will emerge from the shadows of previous Luthors, like Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey, to create a truly original and worthwhile take on the character. For now anyway, there's reason to be optimistic, as it certainly appears the actor's head (and heart) are in the right place.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives in theaters 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 then Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020. Untitled Batman and Superman solo films will be coming at dates TBD.