From the beginning of Man Of Steel‘s production, Zack Snyder has made some casting choices that riled up the fans. An actress largely known for comedies with the wrong color hair for Lois Lane and an actor that many claimed (loudly) was just the wrong color, period, for example. The film’s producer Christopher Nolan cast his Batman films the same way (“There’s no way that gay cowboy could ever play the Joker!” the fanboys screamed).
I bring this up because one of today’s casting announcements for the upcoming, still untitled, Batman/Superman is similarly unexpected.
Your new Lex Luthor is Jesse Eisenberg. Yes, the guy from Zombieland, The Social Network and Now You See Me. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that.
After rumors that Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston would take the part, this comes as quite a shock. Fans wanted an actor known for his dramatic work, not someone who’s only dabbled in serious work in a career of mostly comedy. Oh wait, before Breaking Bad, Cranston was almost exclusively a comedic actor, best known for his role in Malcolm in the Middle, whereas Eisenberg’s career has been a mix of the two and his highest profile role is a genius billionaire businessman with delusions of grandeur. Huh.
But none of that matters because you can’t judge an actor based on what their last role was. Again I remind you of Heath Ledger as the Joker and the internet shitstorm when he was cast.
Director Zack Snyder had this to say about Eisenberg’s casting.
Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940. 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.
Less in need of justification is the casting of Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth. Irons naturally carries a weight and gravitas that’s a perfect fit for the role. And he’s already played the Riddler in the best Batman movie that doesn’t actually star Batman. So there’s that.
Here’s Snyder on Jeremy Irons:
As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure. 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.
So there we are. One piece of controversial, possibly inspired casting and one piece of just perfect casting. I’m sure you have a lot of opinions. Let’s hear them.