While Michael Rosenbaum has been acting steadily for over 15 years, having played dozens of different characters, many DC fans would agree that Rosenbaum's portrayal of Superman arch-villain Lex Luthor remains his most indelible creation. Rosenbaum played the iconic character for 7 of Smallville's 10 seasons, spanning across both the WB and The CW networks, and even reprised the role for the long-running drama's series finale.
To say Rosenbaum put his own stamp on the role of Luthor would be an understatement, but fans of DC's animated universe know full well that Rosenbaum's involvement with legendary comic characters didn't stop there. From 2001-2006, Rosenbaum played The Flash and his alter ego Wally West on the popular Cartoon Network animated series Justice League/Justice League Unlimited and returned to the role for 2012 direct-to-video animated feature Justice League: Doom.
That all begs the question: If Rosenbaum was offered a role in Zack Snyder's upcoming Batman vs. Superman film, which of his previous characters would he take? The actor addressed just that during a recent interview with Cinekatz while promoting his new film Back in the Day. The answer may surprise you:
"I would lean toward The Flash kind of guy. The guy who wants to take light of the situation, when everyone is so upset and the world is dying he’s like, 'Hey everything’s going to be alright! Let’s go bowling!' That’s always been me. That’s kind of me and I’ve always had that temperance- the ability to make things better than they are. I think that’s my gift, honestly, is to entertain. I’d have to say I’d be closer to The Flash. I have some evil in me, but I’d be positive for the most part."
Yep, it appears that a large contingent of fans' choice for the the screen's best Lex Luthor would much rather save the world on film than take it over. Rosenbaum also had some interesting things to say about Jesse Eisenberg, who many have dubbed a controversial choice to play Luthor in Snyder's film:
"First off, I think he’s a really good actor. I don’t think he needs any advice from me, he’ll do his homework. Do it your way. I’m sure Zack [Snyder] has an idea. He cast you for reason. Jesse’s a good actor. He’ll do it his own way and that’s the best way. If you can do it your way, if you succeed or fail, you succeed because you are being original. If you’re trying to emulate someone, you’ll always be compared. That’s why I didn’t want to be compared during 'Smallville.' I didn’t watch any of Gene Hackman as Lex. He’ll be fantastic. Great actor, no problem with it."
While it's nice of Rosenbaum to extol Eisenberg's virtues, it's doubtful that the word of a former Lex will succeed in getting angry Superman fans to stop calling for the former Mark Zuckerberg's resignation. However, it's not really surprising that Rosenbaum would defend Eisenberg's casting, as Rosenbaum himself was not at all known for playing Lex Luthor-style roles prior to his casting in Smallville.
Lest we forget, Rosenbaum's most high profile live-action role prior to playing Luthor was as one of the titular characters on the short-lived WB sitcom Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane. Outside of that, Rosenbaum's only other projects of note were some supporting voice work on Batman Beyond and playing a victim in the milquetoast late '90s slasher flick Urban Legend.
While Eisenberg is certainly much more famous going into his debut as Luthor than Rosenbaum was, it doesn't change the fact that neither actor would stand out in a lineup as a natural choice to play the villain. If Rosenbaum had never played Luthor before, would fans even bring him up when discussing their dream casting for Batman vs. Superman? It's a hypothetical scenario to be sure, but it's still one worth considering.
Batman vs. Superman hits theaters on May 6th, 2016.