Pop-Ed: Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor

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It seems like every time news hits on this Batman Vs. Superman/Man of Steel 2/Justice League?/Air Bud 78: Superman and the Bat Pups movie, the internet goes into a state of chaos. With the exception of a Star Wars movie, or The Dark Knight Rises, I’ve never seen a film so nitpicked and analyzed, but here we are…to discuss more MEGA casting news – Jesse Eisenberg is playing Lex Luthor, and Jeremy Irons is Alfred. As Adam West would say, “To the batcave…we haven’t one moment to lose!”

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On Jeremy Irons as Alfred

I love Michael Gough in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher era of Bat-films, but it was the Christopher Nolan series where the faithful butler finally got his due when Michael Caine played him perfectly for three consecutive films. As of January 31st, 2014, we finally have our new Alfred, and it’s Jeremy Irons.

I’m going to make this short and sweet: this is spot on casting. Perfect. No concerns whatsoever.

Now that that’s done, let’s get to the real news…

Lex Luthor – Pre Jesse Eisenberg buzz…

Its almost been a sure thing that Lex Luthor would appear in this Man of Steel sequel. Hell, they practically confirm it in the original film when General Zod is thrown into a couple of LexCorp trucks. We haven’t seen Luthor in a Superman film since 2006’s abomination of Superman Returns, where Kevin Spacey played him as an absolute goofball (Note: Yes, I think Kevin Spacey is a fantastic actor, but not as Lex Luthor). Before Spacey, it was Gene Hackman. I loved Hackman’s performance immensely, but it still felt a little, “Well, he’s just being Gene Hackman.” Even though we’ve seen six live action Superman films since 1978, I’ve always felt like Lex Luthor never really got his due. Even before Heath Ledger, we still had a Jack Nicholson Joker to live off of. Seeing as how Luthor is Superman’s Joker, we are still craving for that definitive take on the character.

As rumors for Luthor were swirling, there seemed to be three names that kept popping up. People just assumed Bryan Cranston would be given this role. Let me be very clear about this – I love Cranston. I love Breaking Bad. I’m sure he would have been a fantastic Lex, but honestly, it just felt too on the nose. There was something about Cranston as Lex that just wasn’t gelling for me…

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

The other two names that constantly came up were Denzel Washington and Joaquin Phoenix. I don’t think Denzel was ever really seriously considered, but he always popped up as a dream choice on various websites. This casting would have been fantastic, but was never really a reality.

Around the time that Her started hitting theaters, there was a rumor that Joaquin Phoenix was being pursued for the role. When I read this, I prayed for it – Joaquin Phoenix as Lex Luthor!? That sounds amazing! But I knew in my heart this was never going to happen. I just couldn’t see Phoenix signing up for a film like this. After Denzel and Phoenix, I really didn’t know who I wanted to see as Lex Luthor. Then today happened…

On Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor

When I first read that Jesse Eisenberg had been cast as Lex Luthor, my jaw literally dropped. I didn’t even have an opinion…it was just pure shock. Never in a million years did I think I would read a report that confirmed Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. When the initial shock finally evaporated, I started to really think about it…

I love it. I absolutely LOVE this casting.

At his core, Lex Luthor is one of the most brilliant minds in the world, and is obsessed with proving to everybody that Superman is a menace, and needs to be controlled. He’s cocky. Arrogant. Jealous. Rich. Remind you of another character Eisenberg played once before…

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Eisenberg is a great actor, but I admit his range is somewhat limited. This particular role however fits him like a glove. I was actually able to picture in my head an image of Eisenberg clutching his fingers and looking like he wants to take over the world. I’m basically expecting Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network, combined with a Bond villain. I cannot wait to see what he does with this character.

The only concern I have is with the age. Eisenberg is 30, but looks even younger. I admit it’s hard to see this young punk running a multi-billion dollar mega corporation, and going toe-to-toe with Henry Cavill’s Superman. This is part of the reason why I’d like to see them go the bald route, as it will make Eisenberg more imposing, but if not, I’m confident in the actor.

It was recently revealed that this film would be delayed ten months, now opening on May 6th, 2016. I love that the filmmakers have more time to work on this, but I can’t wait to see it. I fully admit this thing could be an absolute disaster, but I am just so fascinated to see what the hell this hodgepodge of characters and great actors ends up becoming…

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Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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