The announcement of Jesse Eisenberg playing Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor in BATMAN v SUPERMAN certainly came out of left field. Among all the names on fans' dream lists, the SOCIAL NETWORK actor probably didn't even make it in the top 50 of potentials. Suffice to say, DC and WB certainly have a very specific character in mind with this version of Luthor. Gone is the seasoned businessman of the comics. Instead, he's been replaced by something of a Mark Zuckerberg-esque wunderkind. One who's genius is likely only matched by his cockiness.
Eisenberg was truly an interesting choice. Known more for his low-key, character-focused performances, he would likely bring a depth to the character that may have otherwise been missing. But how is this character different from other interpretations?
In an interview with playboy, the young actor delved into Luthor's crooked moral compass.
“The character is in line with what audiences want to see now, which is a more modern, psychologically realistic concept of Lex Luthor. His motivations are multifaceted; he has a way of using language that’s specific to the way his mind works; he struggles with interesting philosophical dilemmas like that of the individual having too much power, even if that individual is using that power for good. For instance, Superman has so far been using his powers to do some good, but is it safe to have someone like that walking the streets? It’s great that all of this happens in the context of a very exciting superhero movie.”
The real interesting bit from Eisenberg came from his discussion of inhabiting the role. In some of the trailers we've seen, Luthor cartoonishly introduces himself to Bruce and Clark at a party--it's something that's almost more in keeping with the Riddler than Lex. Perhaps it's the following philosophy that led to this portrayal.
“He reminds me of one of those characters in old Greek theater who very explicitly state the philosophical dilemma at hand and put it in a way that feels in line with that character’s interests and voice. He speaks in broad themes and ideas: That’s what makes the character very theatrical and yet authentic. This is the kind of role actors really like to play because you don’t feel like it’s a problem if you color outside the lines. I can be as funny as I want to be in the context of my character behaving poorly, and I can be as sad as I want because the character’s also going through real internal conflict. Take it as far as you want and be as theatrical as you want to be – it’s all correct.”
Of course, it's easy to rag on that decision now. Hopefully by the time we get to theaters, the scenes will play out much better in context.
What are your thoughts on Eisenberg's comments? Let us know down below!
BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE hits theaters on March 25, 2016.