On Friday afternoon Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor, in the currently as of yet titled Batman vs Superman film. The iconic role has been portrayed by some top-notch actors over its many adaptations, leaving some big shoes to fill for the 30-year-old actor.
First appearing in Action Comics #23, published in April of 1940, Lex Luthor is an intelligent and wealthy, power-hungry business mogul. The villain does not have superpowers to battle Superman, but he makes up for it with his brains and wits, which he uses to achieve his megalomaniac goal of killing the Last Son of Krypton.
Lex Luthor was first portrayed on the big screen by Lyle Talbot in a 1950 live-action film, but it was not popularized until 28 years later by Gene Hackman in 1978’s Superman and its sequels in 1980 and 1987. At that time, the actor was 48 years old and he was perfect for the role, portraying a more wise cracking Luthor who used the plotting of ridiculous disasters to battle Superman. By then, Hackman had a Best Actor at the Academy Awards and two supporting actor nominations under his belt, adding quite the prowess to the role of Superman’s arch nemesis.
Lex Luthor would then be portrayed in various other medias, including by John Shea and Michael Rosenbaum on television for the 1990s TV show and Smallville in the 2000s respectively.
The next major live-action film was in 2006, Superman Returns, which saw veteran actor Kevin Spacey portray Lex Luthor. The 47-year-old Spacey, like Hackman before him, was a renowned actor before being cast having also won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1999 for American Beauty.
This leads to today, where Jesse Eisenberg will be hoping to admirably fill the big shoes of Kevin Spacey and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in the untitled Batman vs Superman film. When Spacey and Hackman were cast they were already proven actors, both around the same age at 47 and 48 – the iconic role was practically made for them. The casting of Eisenberg on Friday leaves many fans curious, if not outraged. It is definitely a completely unexpected approach from the people behind the upcoming Batman vs Superman film.
Jesse Eisenberg is only 30 years old, his baby face look giving him an appearance of someone in their late teens to early twenties. His most renowned role was Social Network in 2010, which earned him a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg. Other popular Eisenberg roles include Zombieland and Adventureland.
In most of his films, Eisenberg is known for portraying the socially-awkward and nervous type of character – a more mature version of Michael Cera. In 2011, Eisenberg even told People Magazine that people still confuse him with Cera. He went on to express how annoyed he is by it and how he does not like getting recognized as another individual.
Eisenberg’s portrayal of Zuckerberg in 2010 has definitely set him apart slightly from Cera. His most recent role as a magician in Now You See Me last year was more mature and began to show continued growth in the then 29-year-old actor, along with a separation from the nervous young adult he usually portrays. However, being cast as the menacing, bald-headed Lex Luthor, an arch nemesis of Superman and Batman, in a mega summer blockbuster is a whole different beast. The role could very well accomplish Eisenberg’s goal of becoming his own as an actor.
Opening on May 6, 2016, the untitled Batman vs Superman film will either make it or break it for Eisenberg, who has big shoes to fill following the likes of Hackman and Spacey in the iconic role of Lex Luthor. Also cast is the always-dependable Jeremy Irons as Batman’s butler, Alfred. The veteran actor would have made for a great Lex Luthor, but then again he is perfect for any role. They both join other recent castings of Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Returning Man of Steel actors Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne round out the growing cast.
By Kollin Lore