Whenever an actor is assigned to a key role in a superhero movie, the fanboys (and girls) flock to the internet to vent their rage. Why him/her? They can’t fit the role. They’re too tall, young, fat, feminine, talentless…the list goes on. We saw it with Ben Affleck, when he was cast as Batman, but slowly the people have begun to accept him as their Dark Knight. The same can’t be said for Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.
Initially people believed he looked nothing like a possible Luthor, and then when the trailers for Batman V Superman emerged they were even more worried. Not to mention that he’s acting like a cross between The Joker and The Riddler. But as we saw with Heath Ledger as the Joker, it is best to wait and see.
Not only will Jesse Eisenberg make a more than formidable Luthor, but he will also thrive as a villain in modern cinema. Gone are the days where muscle defines a bad guy. Now we require brains, charisma, humour and wit and Eisenberg has all of these traits in spades.
Fast talking, wise cracking and with a dose of unpredictability, the Adventureland, Zombieland and Social Network star is perfect to create a new take on an old foe. But we all know the old saying about haters; they just like to hate.
10. No Focus on Physical Strength
Eisenberg fits the prototype villain of the 21st century. Instead of being physically dominant, instead he is skinny, smart, humorous and charismatic with the ability to turn chaotic in an instant. It would be pointless making this version of Lex Luthor a physical beast, as his role in Batman V Superman isn’t about the fighting, it’s about setting up plans of destruction and finding a way to rid of Earth’s protectors. Domination is his motivation, and brawn can’t be a focus when brains are required. Eisenberg generally plays an intelligent character, and now that he’s that little bit older we can see how far he’s really come. Few actors would’ve matched Affleck and Cavill in size, so the crew have made a strong choice here.
9. Transformation From Boy to Man
Other actors that were rumoured for the role (for example, Bryan Cranston) are older men that would have been the established Lex Luthor. Here we get to see Eisenberg, who despite being 32 still passes for someone in their early twenties, grow into the villain that exposes Superman’s weakness and unleashes a new hell on these fictional cities. With Affleck’s Batman much older and established (even declining), the film requires aspects of growth to ensure a franchise builds successfully. Using a younger actor that isn’t afraid to challenge anyone is not only a smart move, but a required one. Eisenberg will age and create a growing dynamic between this movie and the Justice League additions, so expect the filmmakers to make Luthor central to the mayhem.
8. A New Take on an Old Foe
People accepted Ledger’s new take on The Joker, why are they so quick to hate Jesse Eisenberg’s fresh attempt at Lex Luthor. Let’s be honest, Luthor needs refreshing. Despite being the main villain of Superman lore, he has always failed to have the charisma to win over the majority of the fanbase. If you want entertaining villains, look at The Joker. Look at Darth Vader. Look at Loki. The movies they are in (and countless other shows, games) are better because they aren’t two dimensional bores, but are arguably more interesting then the heroes themselves. They make us laugh, or stun us with their evil ways. Luthor has never been one to do this, but perhaps now is the time. If the director had of chosen someone in the mould of Spacey or Hackman, we would’ve felt like we’d seen this before. Now, it’s as fresh as can be.
7. He’s Not the Main Antagonist
If trailers are anything to go by, Luthor is not the main bad guy. Superman and Batman duke it out for the majority of the film, and then Doomsday comes along to challenge the trinity. “If man won’t kill God, the Devil will do it.” Luthor appears to create Doomsday, which allows Eisenberg to demonstrate his unique acting skills in the periphery. He may become the main villain at some stage, when all else is defeated, but starting as a rich kid allows his character to be fleshed out before challenging superheroes for power. In a universe that is set to be filled with power, Eisenberg will be waiting in the wings to strike and it will be glorious when it finally does.
6. Words as Weapons
Eisenberg has experience not being some mumbling, bumbling idiot. See his opening scene in The Social Network for an example. Batman’s greatest challenges came from characters with smarts rather than brawn (other than Bane, who broke his back, but even he was intelligent). In the trailer we also see him mocking Louis Lane about 3 syllable words…and she’s a reporter. Utilising words to influence, dictate and mock are reasons why villains become iconic. Anyone can fire a gun, or swing a sword but will that leave us with something memorable? Sure, he’ll eventually be armed to the brim with kryptonite and what not, but establishing his position with a focus on vocabulary and knowledge is refreshing in cinema. Time to move away from mythical monsters, and onto true intelligence like Lex.
5. He Enjoys the Game
“The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world, God versus man, day versus night.” He smiles as he says this, and must turn sour when he learns of their grouping as allies. “Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham.” Eisenberg’s Luthor is loving the combination more than anyone else. He has front row seats to the battle, and is more excited than a kid in Toys R Us. His passion mirrors the audience, and that will make him relatable and hateable when the time arrives. “That is a good grip, you should not pick a fight with this person.” He knows more than everyone else, influences war and waits for his turn to enter the fray. The plan is brilliant.
4. He Has An Ego
“Power can be innocent.” Eisenberg’s Luthor will play Batman and Superman against one another. From the trailer we see the three men (without capes) at an event, to which Luthor says “Boys, Bruce Wayne meets Clark Kent, I love it, I love bringing people together, how are we?” His mockery of Lane, his status and his clothing demonstrate a boy that rose to power before he was called a man. And ego is a powerful trait. If he is well acted, we’ll believe he’s a threat, for any villain with a geeky appearance needs an ego to demonstrate the threat he poses to the fictional world. Not to mention that as he destroys cities, his confidence will only increase. And as we saw in the film Now You See Me, Eisenberg can rise to the challenge.
3. Rich Kid Status
Eisenberg can pull this off better than most. Playing Zuckerberg definitely added to his personality, and showed that he can have the arrogance to match the wit. He constantly has a facial expression that seems to expect wealth, and this Luthor requires that ‘rich’ aroma. Jesse’s Lex will be a boy who enjoys playing with his expensive toys, and it is here more than most other areas that he will excel. From his presence in the trailer alone you can tell he has so many mechanic gadgets that he doesn’t know where to place them all. It breeds cockiness, arrogance and the mindset that he can take on anyone and emerge a victor. Perhaps his most adored toys are Batman and Superman.
2. Battles Won’t Bore
Thank God it won’t be more pointless tossing-each-other-through-buildings warfare with Eisenberg as Luthor. Clearly he can’t match the others in strength. So battles will be tactical, they will be focused on weakness, and they’ll ensure our attention spans are attached to the screen and not the bottom of the popcorn box. Luthor will don a suit of Kryptonite that brings down Superman, and he will no doubt have abilities to challenge Batman’s psyche. As yet it is unknown how Wonder Woman and Aquaman will play into the film, but you can bet that Luthor has ways of exposing their weaknesses also. Listen for the commentary Eisenberg gives during battle and you’ll learn that his smartass approach will do as much damage as anything he does.
1. To See Him Go Bald
If images are anything to go by, he looks downright freaky as a bald man. The curls will fall away, and we’ll be left with a character set to define Luthor for generations to come. From this picture alone, a villain is born that is set to be etched into cinema history. The glint in Eisenberg’s uneven eyes evokes terror, it draws upon fear, and he no longer appears to be a boy in a (super) man’s world. Eisenberg will give his all for this role. He knows the pressure on him, he knows the importance of a key villain and he’ll want to stand above Leto’s Joker as the iconic ‘bad guy’ in the DC universe. And he’ll succeed. Let’s just hope he has enough screen time to assert domination.