‘Superman’ reboot’s only hope: Jesse Eisenberg

shackelfordThe Internet ignited in one of its infamous firestorms recently with the news that “The Social Network’s” Jesse Eisenberg has been cast as Lex Luthor in the upcoming sequel to 2013’s “Man of Steel,” tentatively titled “Batman vs. Superman.”

Fans took to the digital streets, raising their memetic banners high with photoshopped images from “The Social Network,” chanting slogans such as ‘Heisenberg not Eisenberg’
a reference to the long-held belief that it would be “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston who would take up the role of Superman’s arch nemesis.

But it may not be as bad as many seem to think.
Latino-Review.com recently came up with a few details (albeit sketchy ones that are likely subject to change) that show that Eisenberg may end up being a great choice, if you have an open mind.

 

 

First, let’s consider who the character of Lex Luthor is intended to be. According to Latino-Review, Luthor will be bald (of course), but he also has a few other defining characteristics:

Lex Luthor is also into body art and has a detailed sleeve tattoo of the Metropolis skyline on his right arm. Lex is also the richest man on the planet who became a self-made billionaire at 18. Lex is currently the CEO of LexCorp who is one part tech genius, one part ruthless business man and two parts Metropolis street tough. Yes, street tough.

So we have a young guy, probably early 20s, who is a self-made billionaire and tech genius. Sounds like a character Eisenberg already played quite well. Latino-Review continues:

At 14, Lex was living on the streets and for survival was initiated into a street gang. He learned early on that there was someone always bigger and stronger but never smarter. By 15, that street gang was answering to him. According to Lex, strength isn’t everything. RESOLVE is.

This, combined with the mentions of Luthor being “street tough” in the above quote, is where things get interesting. We already know that Eisenberg is great at playing witty, acerbic, genius characters. His attention monologue from “The Social Network” stands as a shining example. We also know that he can play a great manipulator, again a la “The Social Network.”

Additionally, the bit about Luthor having a sleeve tattoo of the Metropolis skyline is telling. Luthor grew up on the streets of Metropolis, and rose to become its wealthiest citizen. It’s not a far leap to imagine that Luthor believes he is Metropolis, and the city is him. We’re almost sure to see some backlash from the asinine levels of chaos and destruction that Superman’s battle with General Zod inflicted on Lex’s home. Lex Luthor will likely be at the front of that backlash, leading the charge.

Eisenberg’s Luthor believes that Superman is an “alien and a trespasser that doesn’t belong on this planet.” He also believes that “Superman can die. For all its abilities, it’s not immortal.” Interesting use of the pronoun “it,” by the way. As if Luthor really doesn’t see Superman as a man in any way, but an extraterrestrial thing.

Lex Luthor’s plan for killing Superman? “Lex doesn’t intend to go toe to toe (with a god), because he believes you don’t get to be a general by charging the frontlines with the rest of the troops.”

Latino-Review also writes that Luthor and Bruce Wayne know each other, and neither likes the other. Luthor considers Wayne a trust-fund baby who was given everything, while Luthor had to work his way up from the gutter. Wayne considers Luthor an “amoral, arrogant brat”.

So Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne know each other, and we’ll most likely be seeing some screen time between the two wealthy socialites. We’ll almost certainly be getting interaction between Batman and Luthor, and of course between Luthor and Superman. All of those characters, finally on the big screen together? It’s kind of hard not to be excited at least if you’re a comic book geek like myself.

It seems the writers for “Batman vs. Superman” are straying away from the stereotypical brawny-yet-brainy Luthor. They want a villain who is small on the outside but massive on the inside, someone who is the diametric opposite of Henry Cavill’s Superman. Given all of this, as well as the intricate relationships between Lex Luthor, Bruce Wayne, Batman and Superman, I think Jesse Eisenberg will be a phenomenal choice.

Of course, all of this is subject to change, and the movie has been delayed until spring 2016. Only time will tell.

Reach the columnist at svshacke@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @sirshackofford