When Warner Bros. announced that their sequel to Zack Snyder’s Superman relaunch, Man of Steel, was going to be a team-up movie that finally got a live action Superman and a live action Batman together in the same place, the world cheered. You see, Warners owns all of the DC superheroes, and they were kind of late to the superhero team-up party.
After that, they announced that Ben Affleck was their pick to play Batman though, and people booed. You see, nobody really likes what Affleck brings to the table as an actor, and everyone was just getting used to liking him as a director. Plus, Batman fans are kind of hardcore, and really would only have been satisfied if it was announced that Batman was going to be played by himself. Affleck was a momentum killer on several levels.
After that it was announced that Wonder Woman was also going to be appearing in this movie that, as far as we knew, wasn’t announced as being Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman, and she was going to be played by Fast & Furious actress Gal Gadot. Suddenly the world’s comic book fans found themselves simultaneously asking the same question, “Isn’t Wonder Woman supposed to be swarthy and big-boned?” Ha, don’t bet on it. And don’t get comfortable with Gadot’s casting being the biggest curveball this production is going to throw at you, because Warners just sent out a press release that they’ve also cast the villainous Lex Luthor, as well as Batman’s subservient butler Alfred for this upcoming team-up movie, and one of their picks nobody saw coming.
Rumors have been going around about the Lex Luthor casting for weeks now. The general consensus was that Luthor, who is maybe the most iconic villain in comic book history, was probably going to be played by either Bryan Cranston or Joaquin Phoenix, which made sense, because they’re two of the most respected actors in Hollywood at the moment and they both have histories of playing big time bad guys who bring a lot of presence and danger to the screen. It turns out those rumors were simply just rumors though, because Warners has announced that they’ve actually hired an actor who nobody was predicting to be their new version of the Superman-hating bald billionaire, Jesse Eisenberg.
That’s right, the kid who donned a hoodie to play an awkward Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, the twerp who drank Mountain Dew Code Red in Zombieland, that insecure weasel who tried to pass a Pink Floyd song off as his own in The Squid and the Whale—he’s going to be the guy playing the new Lex Luthor. And you know what, he’s kind of a perfect choice.
Superman, as a hero, is pretty much defined by his physicality. When little kids describe him to you, what they generally do first is start to give you a laundry list of all of his impressive powers. Every good Superman story ends with that moment where Superman gets sick of all the shenanigans being perpetrated by whatever villain, remembers that he’s the strongest guy in the room, and stands up and punches out whatever threat is causing all of the danger.
It makes sense, then, that Superman’s greatest enemy should be defined by his intellect. He should be slight, he should be brainy, and he should always be trying to solve his problems by coming up with some new scheme. We’ve seen Eisenberg play brainy in The Social Network, we’ve seen him play nebbish in Zombieland, and we’ve seen that he can be a character who really gets under people’s skin, but still never stops being human and relatable in The Squid and the Whale, so he’s basically the perfect movie villain to bounce off of the broad chest of the Superman character. This is great, outside the box thinking from Snyder and company. It seems a little bit risky, but it could end up paying off huge if Eisenberg wows. Kind of makes you think twice about what they saw in that adorable little Gal Gadot to think that she could be Wonder Woman, doesn’t it?
You can’t always be thinking outside the box though, so for the Alfred casting they went with a no-brainer. What are the attributes that make for a good Alfred Pennyworth? Well, he mostly just has to be able to project a fatherly concern while being at the same time impossibly British. Michael Caine was already used for the role in the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies, so Snyder and his people have decided to go with the next most obvious choice by signing up Jeremy Irons. That’s right, the little brother of both Hans Gruber and Mufasa is going to be donning the servant togs to bring Affleck’s Batman his tea and to stitch up his wounds—which are likely going to be ample if he plans on going up against Superman at any point over the course of this film. That’s some fun casting right there. Now if only this movie weren’t being directed by Zack Snyder.