In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Denzel Washington reveals that he was never in the running to play Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman. In the wake of Justice League‘s critically and commercially underwhelming opening weekend, many are looking back on the DC Extended Universe’s past in a more favorable light. More than a few of the film’s most negative reviews are making note of the film’s lack of vision and depth when compared to BvS. A sizable portion of these critics were the same folks that trashed the showdown between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel for being too dense, but hey, there’s just no pleasing some people.
Batman v Superman has more than its fair share of flaws, but one aspect that was roundly critiqued by reviewers and comic book fans alike was Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor. The decision to cast the young actor as Supes’ arch-nemesis was controversial from the start. (When he was first rumored to be boarding the project, many assumed that he was going to be playing Daily Planet employee Jimmy Olsen.) Unfortunately, this was one instance where the fan uproar to a superhero movie casting decision — something that’s become way more frequent in the modern internet age — was ultimately justified. Eisenberg’s quirky take on Luthor in BvS was not well-received in the end.
It could be argued that a major reason why fans were so against Eisenberg from the start was because of the insane talent that had been rumored for the role before he signed on. Bryan Cranston and Mark Strong were two big names that fans were certainly pulling for, but A-List stars like Joaquin Phoenix, Idris Elba, and Denzel Washington were also reportedly in the running at various times. We recently sat down with Washington to discuss his new movie, Roman J. Israel, Esq., and we asked if there was any truth to those rumors. Check out our exchange with Washington below.
SR: You know, the last question I have for you, switching gears for a second, there was a huge rumor going around back awhile ago, that Warner Bros. was interested in you playing Lex Luthor in the Superman movie.
Denzel Washington: Really?
SR: Yeah. Was there any…
Denzel Washington: I never heard that.
SR: You never heard that?
Denzel Washington: No, Me?!
SR: Yeah! You would’ve been great!
Denzel Washington: I never heard. Well, what happened?
SR: I don’t know!
Denzel Washington: I never heard that. I’ve never heard until just now. Where’d you hear it?
SR: Online [Laughs]
Denzel Washington: Oh, of course you believe everything you hear.[Laughs] No. I never I’ve never heard that until just now.
Washington is a seasoned Hollywood pro, so it’s not that all that surprising that he’s elected to profess ignorance to the Luthor rumors. Even if he were approached for the role, to make that public would invite a slew of questions — i.e. why he turned it down, what he thought of the script, what he thought of the final movie, etc. — and potential negativity that he doesn’t want to deal with while doing press for his new movie. No big shockers here.
But over in the land of what ifs, we can’t help but imagine what BvS could have looked like with a truly dynamic and formidable antagonist. Whether you found Jesse Eisenberg’s work a bit annoying, you disliked the sweeping changes made to the character, or were simply annoyed to see Lex Luthor shoving Jolly Ranchers in people’s mouths, there’s a whole lot of people that did not enjoy the actor’s take on Superman’s arch-nemesis. There’s a good deal of enthusiasm over Justice League‘s post credit scene, but we imagine that hype levels would be significantly higher if fans were all that interested in seeing more of the DCEU’s Lex Luthor. Because yeah, an Injustice League led by Denzel friggin Washington would be amazing. One led by Eisenberg…could be good?
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