It seems that every major casting announcement made so far where it concerns the Man of Steel sequel - a.k.a. Batman vs. Superman, Man of Steel 2, and/or Zack Snyder's Untitled Superman/Batman movie - has come out of left field, starting with Ben Affleck as Batman and going onto Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) landing the role of Wonder Woman. The same holds true for some of the casting rumors, with lauded thespians like Joaquin Phoenix and Denzel Washington being name-dropped as possibilities (either somewhat plausible or completely far-fetched) to play Lex Luthor in the film.
Well, today we have a pair of legitimate (as in, official) casting announcement, after two months (we know, it felt longer than that) of increasingly wild Batman vs. Superman rumors, since Gadot was confirmed... and like those before it, we suspect a lot of people will be left pulling their jaws off the ground after first hearing these casting confirmations (well, except for maybe the guy who made this fake BvS trailer).
Warner Bros. has issued a press release that confirms not only Oscar-nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) as Lex Luthor, but also Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons (Beautiful Creatures) as Bruce Wayne's loyal butler, Alfred. Here is the official statement from Snyder, on the casting choices:
Snyder stated, “Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940. What’s great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He’s a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions.”
The director added, “As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure. He is an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman. It is an honor to have such an amazingly seasoned and gifted actor as Jeremy taking on the important role of the man who mentors and guides the guarded and nearly impervious façade that encapsulates Bruce Wayne.”
The casting of Eisenberg as Luthor does make a certain amount of sense, when you step back and look at the bigger picture. While many fans were cheering for Bryan Cranston to land the role and bring some of his Heisenberg menace to the diabolical billionaire, it wasn't just his age that made him a questionable selection - considering that Luthor will serve as the anti-thesis to Henry Cavill's young Superman, by positioning himself as Earth's savior to the destructive alien visitor in red and blue. Rather, to quote our own Kofi Outlaw, Cranston's "pronounced bi-polar shifts of Mr. White/Heisenberg" seem ill-fitting for the subdued, hyper-intelligent, charming and yet sociopathic Luthor - someone closer to the version of Mark Zuckerberg that Eisenberg played so well in The Social Network (to mention nothing of his fine work elsewhere).
As for Irons as Alfred, that'll probably be an easier pill to swallow for many fans, since he's proven himself as a solid mentor/sidekick type even in lackluster films (see: Eragon, Beautiful Creatures) - again, watch him "play" Alfred in the aforementioned fake Batman vs. Superman trailer. In all honesty, I'd be more concerned if Irons had been cast as Luthor, since the actor can be quite dignified yet threatening (see: Die Hard: With a Vengeance, etc.), but he's also capable of hamming it up like there's no tomorrow while playing the villain (see: Dungeons & Dragons).
Batman vs. Superman is currently scheduled for theatrical release on May 6th, 2016.