While a lot of people are still talking about Ben Affleck playing Batman in the upcoming DC Comics film, “Batman vs. Superman,” the other controversial casting seems to have passed with less fanfare. When Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Lex Luthor in the movie, there was a collective pause for confusion, but the Affleck news was still large and anger was still directed towards that news rather than on Eisenberg.
In a recent interview with IGN, Eisenberg admitted that he didn’t know too much about this history of Lex Luthor, which might be alarming for comic book fans. However, he also said it was important not to try to base his acting on what others have done before him. Eisenberg said that he hoped to make it his own and was looking forward to it because the character is really well written. While Eisenberg may not be basing his character on those that came before, there is no doubt that the fans will. Here is a look at the actors that Eisenberg follows in the footsteps of.
Arguably, the most famous Lex Luthor to hit the big screen is Gene Hackman, who appeared as the main villain in the first Richard Donner “Superman” movie. He also played an antagonistic role in “Superman II” as well as returning in “Superman IV.” Hackman thought like Eisenberg that he wanted to make Superman his own and something different than the fans were used to. As a result, Hackman’s Superman had hair, although it was a bad toupee, as he felt that would add to the arrogance of Luthor. He also infused Lex with a humor that is largely absent in the comics. It isn’t a faithful adaptation of Lex Luthor, but it was an entertaining one.
When Bryan Singer directed “Superman Returns” in 2006, he cast Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey to step into the role of Lex Luthor. Singer’s entire goal with his movie was to pay homage to Donner’s Superman films, and his movie is actually a sequel to “Superman II,” ignoring the two that followed. The movie was nothing that fans expected, but Spacey provided probably the best version of Lex Luthor when it comes to bringing the character from the comics to the big screen.
When looking at the two previous actors, there is little in Jesse Eisenberg to compare to them outside of an Oscar nomination. However, one has to look no further than television’s “Smallville” to see a perfect comparison. In “Smallville,’ Michael Rosenbaum portrays the most interesting version of Lex Luthor to ever appear in a movie or television show. He was just slightly older than Superman and grew from a trusted companion to an angry, and very powerful, adversary. While Eisenberg doesn’t want comparisons made, if he comes close to the character than Rosenbaum created, “Batman vs. Superman” could have a great Lex Luthor.