You hate him cause you ain’t him. So knock off all the Jesse Eisenberg Lex Luthor hate. He’s gonna be just fine, and then some.
Batman v Superman is only three months away. To get audiences and comic book fans alike pumped, DC released the second trailer for the upcoming film (third if you count the first teaser). Despite having such an epic premise, every bit of information about this movie has been met with mixed-to-negative feedback – none more notable than the casting choice of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.
Ever since Eisenberg was announced to be portraying the arch nemesis of Superman, most people blew a fuse. Many have labeled him as “weird,” “bratty,” or even just “Mark Zuckerberg in the DC Universe.” While I can see why comic book fans would be upset at this unique casting choice, I don’t understand all of the backlash. After all, Eisenberg is a great actor and he could very well find a new level of depth to Lex that we haven’t seen before, comics or otherwise. On top of that, all we’ve seen are trailers, and you can never fully judge a movie or an actor by how the trailer looks.
That said, I think there is a lot of potential for this new iteration of Lex Luthor. As a matter of fact, I think he could be the best one we’ve seen on the big or small screen to date. Here’s why.
5. He’s Actually Lex Luthor Jr.
Here’s what a lot of the people who hate the casting choice, or beyond that, the people who hate the manic personality in the new trailer, miss. Eisenberg isn’t playing Lex Luthor. He is actually playing Alexander Luthor Jr., Lex’s son. While they will definitely share the same name, this is not the same character. This would easily explain why the production would’ve chosen Eisenberg. They would be looking for someone who could play snarky, youthful, and brave with his words. This isn’t the more traditional Mad Men style industrial powerhouse. This is a kid who has inherited a multi-billion dollar company from his father. Naturally he would be cocky, selfish, and everything else in between.
4. An old idea with an entirely new concept
The thing that superhero movies have to really take into account is that nine times out of ten, the characters they introduce have already been seen on the big or small screen in some way. Then the movie has two options – either portray said character as accurately to the comics as possible (like the other iterations of Lex have been), or have a fresh take on the character.
However, DC has their hands tied a little bit. Lex Luthor has been seen so many times in basically the same mold on both the big and small screen, so this time they probably couldn’t get away with a straight-laced, safe, traditional portrayal even if they’d wanted to. Certainly not if they wanted a memorable villain for the movie that’s launching the DC Extended Universe. (Yes, Man of Steel was the first, but that’s a little like saying The Incredible Hulk was the first MCU movie. It counts, but just barely.)
Eisenberg’s depiction of Lex (Jr.) is an attempt to make a different version of the character. Where the Lex we’re all familiar with is a precise, methodical businessman (as per the 1978 Superman as well as Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League), Eisenberg is not. There is a certain point in the new trailer where Lois looks at Luthor and calls him a psychopath. Luthor admits to his seemingly crazy actions, but doesn’t acknowledge it as being psychotic. Instead it seems as if he’s operating with some kind of internal logic, just one that we haven’t understood yet.
3. Batman v Superman v Lex Luthor
In the trailer, we also see Luthor show up at a red carpet event as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are having a heated discussion about “the alien from Krypton” and “the bat vigilante.” He shakes Kent’s hand, and playfully acknowledges how strong he is. This intrigued more out of anything because despite seeming very childish, Lex Jr. is quite intelligent. He knows that he cannot match Batman or Superman physically so he chooses to play with their heads instead, maybe even to the point where he pushes them to fight each other.
Yes, he could even manipulate the World’s Greatest Detective. As we’ve seen, Batman is fixated on the idea that Superman is a menace. That’s a new wrinkle to the classic Superman and Lex Luthor relationship, and Lex will definitely use it to his advantage.
2. The creep factor has reached new heights
I’ll just come out and say it. Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is creepy – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like I said before, he is unlike any other iteration of Lex we’ve seen in the past. He is a very charismatic up front, but there’s something that’s off about him, especially in the way that he talks and moves (i.e., “the red capes are coming.”). Not only that, he seems obsessed with Superman in a similar way to his father, but in a dynamic that seems more reminiscent of the Joker’s feelings toward Batman. To sum it up, he seems to have fully embraced his obsession with the Man of Steel, possibly even so much that he discovers Clark’s identity very early on.
He is creepy because it’s very clear that he knows what he’s doing, but there’s still some degree of insanity inside of him.
1. Getting with the times
When Lex Luthor first made his live action debut in the 1978 Superman film, he was calculated, intelligent, and well-respected, much like how society perceived the wealthy during that time period. However, I actually enjoy that DC took notice of this and decided to create a character based on how society perceives wealthy men in today’s age. Tech mogul. Bratty. Wise-cracking. Doesn’t seem to have boundaries.
It all makes sense. This way audiences who see this film will find him more memorable because he is reflective of the modern age. That is something that would be hindered by the original Lex Luthor.
Give Eisenberg a chance
Let me be clear. The movie has not come out yet. It is impossible to judge a character based on trailers. You can get a small idea of what to expect, but that’s pretty much it. The trailer itself, while disproving the theory about Ben Affleck playing Deathstroke, really brought to light one of its most controversial characters. Despite being controversial, Eisenberg has more than enough potential to be one of the best Luthors we’ve seen yet, in film or otherwise.