Jesse Eisenberg to Battle Superman as Lex Luthor in Man of Steel Sequel

Warner Brothers lit up the Internet yesterday when they sent out a press release casting Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth in Zack Snyder’s upcoming untitled Superman vs Batman film that will serve as a sequel to Man of Steel.

Unlike the big Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman casting that preceded it, the actors up for these two prominent and integral roles were never mentioned in the Internet rumor mill. Lex Luthor was always believed to appear in the film in some form, but no online scoopers with pals in the talent agency-sphere ever once mentioned or thought that Academy Award-nominated Jesse Eisenberg of The Social Network fame was even being considered for the part, much less was the frontrunner that ultimately landed it.

As expected, the Internet erupted in disbelief and endless cries of letdown when the news broke. Twitter became a broken record of “we wanted Heisenberg, not Eisenberg” to the point where ignoring the social media platform was the way to go. Clearly Snyder has a vision for this character that transcends the common perception most have of him from the comics, previous live-action incarnations played by Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey, and dream imagery of a shaved-head Bryan Cranston and his natural gravitas in the role.

“Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940,” stated Snyder as part of the announcement press release. “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.”

Irons’ casting also came as a surprise as there was no definitive indication that Alfred Pennyworth would appear in the film. Clearly he will, and Irons is an Academy Award-winning choice that is nearly impossible to argue against. He should fill the role admirably following in the footsteps of Michael Gough and Michael Caine.

“As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure,” Snyder added regarding Irons’ casting. “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 facade that encapsulates Bruce Wayne.”

For better or worse, and in my opinion there’s no reason to spit venom until the film is seen in its finished form, the official cast of Superman vs Batman or whatever Warner Bros. decides to call it now features Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons at Alfred Pennyworth, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Those roles infer that the film will visit Metropolis, Smallville, and Wayne Manor in Gotham City, at minimum.

David S. Goyer wrote the screenplay for Superman vs Batman, with Chris Terrio (Argo) currently polishing it up.

There are rumors that production is already underway on Superman vs Batman in Detroit as Henry Cavill is in town and expected to be there for some time. Warner Bros. has not announced an official start to production, which typically they do for high profile projects. There is none bigger on their slate right now than this film.

The Man of Steel sequel will be released worldwide on May 6, 2016, after being recently pushed back from its previous July 2015 date.

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