A new report suggests Jesse Eisenberg’s polarizing take on Superman’s archenemy Lex Luthor does not currently feature in the cut of Justice League being screened for test audiences.
Eisenberg first portrayed Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. The performance borrowed a bit from Eisenberg’s Academy Award nominated turn as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in David Fincher’s The Social Network; this version of Luthor was a young corporate mogul, sporting an off putting haircut, as well as lethal levels of narcissism and arrogance. While there have been plenty of radically different takes on the character over the years, Eisenberg’s Luthor was one of the more polarizing aspects of an already polarizing film, and fans were left to wonder how the character would fit into his announced appearance in Justice League.
It turns out he might not fit in at all. According to Batman-News.com, Eisenberg’s Luthor is not present in the cut of the film currently being screened for test audiences.
While characters have certainly been excised from films before, this revelation feels fairly loaded. Director Zack Snyder bowed out of the film’s production following a family tragedy in May, and Avengers director Joss Whedon was brought on to helm the film’s reshoots, tweak the script, and oversee post production. Debate has raged over how much Whedon is altering the film, and Snyder’s confirmation that he’s been largely uninvolved with the film since departing has only strengthened the notion that Justice League is, at the very least, equally Snyder and Whedon’s film at this point.
The exclusion of Eisenberg’s Luthor seems to suggest Whedon might be altering things considerably. Apart from being the most widely loathed character from Batman V Superman, Luthor was also set up as a bridge between that film and the incoming alien threat of Justice League. That threat was always meant to be Steppenwolf, a lieutenant of DC uber-baddie Darkseid, but reports have suggested Darkseid’s direct role in the film has been scaled back considerably, which would partially explain why Luthor has been sidelined.
It’s unlikely this is the end of the line for Eisenberg’s Luthor, however. Warner Bros. is in active development on a Man of Steel sequel – Kingsman: The Golden Circle director Matthew Vaughn has admitted to having discussions about helming that film – and it’s hard to imagine a Superman film franchise where Lex Luthor is wholly absent. It just seems he won’t be returning to menace Batman and his super friends for this round.
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