Two weeks after announcing that the untitled Batman/Superman film would be pushed back a year, Warner Brothers has announced that Jesse Eisenberg will play Superman arch nemesis Lex Luthor and that Jeremy Irons will play Alfred. Joaquin Phoenix has previously been rumored to be in talks for the role of Luthor, but that would have been decidedly too commercial for the actor.
“Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940,” director Zack Snyder said. “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.”
Lex Luthor has previously been portrayed by actors such as Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey, and Michael Rosenbaum on Smallville. Casting Eisenberg is an interesting move the actor is only 30 years old while most prior Luthors have been in their mid to late forties. Playing a maniacal businessman shouldn’t be anything new since he played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Overall I like this casting, a younger Luthor would ensure his continued backroom string pulling in future films and could allow for a fresher take on the character.
“As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure,” Snyder said. “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.”
There’s less to say about Jeremy Irons casting beyond, sure that works. Alfred will likely be a small role and Irons in general is fantastic (and now I can plug Be Prepared).
The most interesting tidbit coming out of the press release was that Chris Terrio is still writing the screenplay based on one written by DC Godfather David S. Goyer. When it was previously announced that Terrio was making a pass at the script it was assumed the best he could do was tighten some dialog but major plot setpices would be left in place due to how a blockbuster film like whatever this is called is made. Now with the delay in release perhaps Terrio has a bit more room to change things.