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Eisenberg to play Lex Luthor

| Sunday, February 2, 2014

eisenberg_lex_luthor_WEBMaria Massa

Just when you think 2015’s “Batman vs. Superman” couldn’t spark anymore needless debate and controversy, director Zack Snyder throws another curveball to the field: Jesse Eisenberg will be playing super villain, Lex Luthor. Following his past (consistently awkward) roles of an Internet icon, an endangered tropical bird and a criminal magician with the personality of a bag of rice, Eisenberg will now be embodying Superman’s most notorious adversary. Considering that actors Bryan Cranston (the one who knocks), Joaquin Phoenix (the one who falls in love with his OS) were rumored to be taking on the role of a villain in the film, the news of Eisenberg comes off as even more of a shock. As strange as the announcement is, it’s not receiving nearly as much backlash as the film’s earlier announcements.

Shortly after the Zack Snyder announced Batman and Superman’s first joint film at San Diego Comic Con, fans went crazy in figuring out who would follow Christian Bale to take on the cowl of the beloved Dark Knight. It would later be announced that Boston’s favorite comeback kid, Ben Affleck, had been offered — and accepted — the role. And the world responded with the same maturity level as a 5 year-old boy whose Batman action-figure had been tossed into a wood-chipper. In time, the hatred of the fans would turn into a wait-and-see attitude towards Affleck, but three3 months later another piece of casting news would rock the nerd community. Despite the film’s unofficial “Batman vs. Superman” title, Snyder dropped another bomb by announcing that the iconic Wonder Woman would be making her onscreen debut and would be played by the relatively unknown (minus “Fast and Furious” fans) Gal Gadot. Once again, comic book fans across the country held their pitchforks and torches high as they headed to the online message boards for metaphorical witch burning of the talented and beautifully innocent actress. This was the 2013 epitome of body bashing as every inch of Gadot’s figure, when compared to Wonder Woman, was scrutinized by the public. When DC diehards made the joint realization that the human body has the capability to gain muscle, they turned their attention breast size … because that’s what puts the “Wonder” in Wonder Woman, right? Needless to say, this discussion went in an entirely unnecessary direction of self-image territory in a debate that once began with, “Oh, I don’t think she’s right for the part.”  As with Affleck, however, most of the public is saving their criticisms for the film … or at least first trailer.

And now we get to Eisenberg. Surprisingly, I think the fan community is worn out after debating the last two casting choices, but there’s still a lot of hate floating around. Personally, I commend Zack Snyder for making such a bold move in his casting here, and the same goes for his last two choices. Superman has always been symbol of strength, and while adaptations of Lex Luthor over the years have turned him into a force that can physically go toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel, that’s not what he’s about. Superman fights with his might while Luthor fights with his mind. Eisenberg’s weaker stature and history of playing intellects makes this casting choice seem like perfect sense. Jesse Eisenberg has shown the world that he can play and intellectual villain (of sorts), and he’s certainly a talented actor (have YOU been nominated for an Oscar?). Oh what, he’s not bald? Too bad there’s no device on earth that can rid someone of his hair. I’m not saying that any of these casting choices are going to shine, but we have to put faith in the director and believe that he chose these actors for a specific reason. Until we see Eisenberg take on Superman, we can only hope that Snyder made the right call. I believe he did. Oh, and Jeremy Irons will be playing Batman’s butler Alfred … but that piece of news doesn’t seem to be getting too much attention.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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