The Lex that No One Expected

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Posted January 31, 2014 by Bryan Huth in Comic Books

“In Snyder we trust. In Snyder we trust. In Snyder we trust.” This is what I chant to myself as I rock back and forth in the fetal position.

So as you probably have already heard, Warner Brother’s studios has announced their choices for two very iconic roles in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Batman vs. Superman. Long-time actor, common villain, and current star of The Borgias Jeremy Irons will be playing Bruce Wayne’s butler and guidance figure Alfred Pennyworth, and the star of Aaron Sorkin’s critically acclaimed Facebook drama The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg, will be playing (brace yourself) Lex Luthor.

luthor 2Now let’s start with the choice that makes the most sense. Despite his reputation of constantly playing the villain, such as Scar in The Lion King and Simon Gruber in Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Jeremy Irons can easily play Alfred and has played similar “father figure” type roles before. Irons should have no problem donning the tuxedo and british accent as he keeps the dark knight from losing himself in the treacherous streets of Gotham. Jesse, is another story.

When my friend told me the news not too long ago, I was shocked to say the least. My exact reaction was yelling “bulls@#*” immediately after the words “Lex Luthor” came out of his mouth. I had been “off of the grid” so to speak for the majority of the day so I hadn’t heard the news until somewhere around 8 pm EST, and I quickly searched for the article to see it for myself. I am trying to stay positive. I am trying to tell myself “No one expected Heath Ledger to do what he did.” but it’s a perplexity that I have not felt for quite some time.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

What I really want to know is what caused Warner Bros. to go with such a strange choice. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Eisenberg. I loved him in The Social Network, Zombieland is one of my favorite comedies, but with every fiber of my being, I’m unable to picture him as the scheming CEO of LexCorp. Many people have used his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network as an example to show that he can show the intellect and arrogance that it takes to be Luthor, but Lex has also has the ruthlessness and manipulation that I just can’t see Eisenberg’s “nice guy” persona possessing. Another quality of Eisenberg that concerns me is his age. Lex is commonly shown as a man who is a little older than Superman, and standing at similar height. Jesse Eisenberg and Henry Cavill are both 30 years of age, but despite his age, Eisenberg still retains the look of a man who is in his mid-20’s, not to mention Cavill standing a good five inches taller than Eisenberg. In addition to Superman, Ben Affleck is the oldest of the heroes at 41 and is actually two inches taller than Cavill. Needless to say Eisenberg will be dwarfed compared to the heroes, not to mention Gal Gadot also standing two inches taller than Eisenberg. However, the studio’s choice is final, so now the question is, what can we do to fix this?

Given that both Cavill and Eisenberg are 30 years old, age will not play a factor. At the same time, Eisenberg has shown that he can pull of the intelligent, arrogant, and egotistical villain and the ruthlessness is something that Eisenberg can learn, if he doesn’t already hold that feature. The biggest issue is his stature. Taking past live action incarnations of the character as an example, Smallville‘s Lex, Michael Rosenbaum, was only two inches shorter than Tom Welling. Gene Hackman, who played Lex in Richard Donner’s original Superman series, was also two inches shorter than Christopher Reeve. So how can Snyder and the rest of the production team make up for Eisenberg being three inches shorter than the past Lex-Superman combinations?

Lex Luthor with hair?

Lex Luthor with hair?

 

Forced Perspective at work.

Forced Perspective at work.

Obviously Hollywood has tricks up its sleeve to handle situations like this. One such trick is using the Forced Perspective technique to distort Eisenberg’s true height, making him look taller than he actually is by using a series of camera angles, props, actor placement and altered sets to achieve this effect. This technique was most famously used by Peter Jackson in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy in order to make the hobbits appear much smaller than other characters. I feel that, while it may take more time to perfect, Snyder and his crew should adopt this process in order to make the scenes look more natural than if they simply used CGI. Of course, there’s always the old milk crate trick, but that might be a little problematic.

This is my thinking face.

This is my thinking face.

The last area of concern that will need to be addressed, one that I’m sure Eisenberg is already aware of, is that Lex Luthor is not a small guy. Given this late casting news and the fact Batman vs. Superman is expected to begin principal photography within the next two months, Eisenberg needs to begin building up his body ASAP. He doesn’t have to reach the same level of strength that Cavill and Affleck are expected to possess, but he does need to appear toned and fit in order to fit the role. Although I wouldn’t expect Warner Bros. to bring out Luthor’s mech suit so soon, it would be smart for continuity purposes to have Eisenberg fit the necessary body type right away.

The news of Eisenberg being cast as Lex is “out of left field” to say the least. While I don’t fully agree with it and I would much rather seen an older actor such as Bryan Cranston or Joaquin Pheonix take the role, but like I said, the choice is final and no petition is going to reverse it now (You know who you are). For those naysayers out there and others that have completely denies the film’s credibility, the best thing I can say is to think of Heath Ledger. This situation is way too similar to Ledger’s casting in The Dark Knight to be overlooked. A large amount of fans were outraged and shunned the film once they heard the news, but were then happily surprised when they finally saw Ledger’s performance. So keep the faith my friends! Like I’ve said before, Snyder has a plan and I trust that he come through just as he did in Man of Steel. Nothing will be certain until the first trailer is released. Batman vs. Superman will be opening May 6th, 2016. Stay tuned to We The Nerdy as we will bring you more news and reports on Batman vs. Superman and other DC projects.

 

 

 



About the Author

Bryan Huth

I am currently attending William Paterson for my BA in Communications and Media Production, with a minor in Film Studies. In my off time I enjoy playing a variety of video games, mainly story-driven ones, and playing guitar. My main focus in comics is DC and I am constantly following all of their current and future plans for TV series and movies. I hope to one day join Warner Bros. films and have a part in their future films.