This March, audiences will be introduced to a brand new iteration of iconic Superman villain Lex Luthor in the form of Jesse Eisenberg, who offers a unique spin on the character in Zack Snyder’s superhero sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Following in the footsteps of Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey, Eisenberg plays a modern update of the character, a millennial CEO of the corporation LexCorp who is closer to Mark Zuckerberg than Ted Turner. But Eisenberg’s casting as Lex almost didn’t happen. In a new interview with the L.A. Times (via ScreenCrush), Snyder reveals that he initially offered a different role to Eisenberg, though he neglected to clarify which:
Snyder won’t reveal that character. “Let’s call it a secret, but nevertheless it was the exact opposite of Lex Luthor,” Snyder said, taking a break on the phone from drawing “Justice League” Aquaman in his storyboards. After Eisenberg declined, Snyder went back and offered him something “cooler,” the role of Luthor.
Hmm, the exact opposite of Lex Luthor. Is Snyder referring to a do-gooder, perhaps Holly Hunter or Scoot McNairy’s character? Or is he hinting at a foe for Batman instead of Superman? It’s unclear, though it’s possible that it was for a character that no longer exists in this script or is being saved for Justice League. Regardless, Eisenberg is Lex Luthor, and while the actor wouldn’t reveal exactly how the character loses his hair and dons the iconic Luthor look, he had some hefty praise for the scene in question:
“When you see the movie, you’ll see. It’s the greatest scene that I’ve ever gotten to take part in — it accounts for the change in hair.”
But beyond the aesthetic qualities of Luthor, Eisenberg says Batman v Superman delves into the character’s backstory, giving him motivation and purpose beyond simply being a mean dude:
“The character has a core of reality. [Luthor] has a back story that’s tragic and an emotional inner life that’s authentic. That’s in the movie. It was my interest in playing the character with a real emotional core, and this writer, Chris Terrio‘s interest in creating a character that seemed viable in reality.”
The film apparently expands and re-imagines the backstory of the character, and I’ll be curious to see where his character ends up at the conclusion of the film. Are there plans for Lex Luthor beyond Batman v Superman in the DC Cinematic Universe, or will he have a definitive end in this first film before Justice League finds the characters taking on foes that are more superhuman in nature? We’ll find out on March 25th, when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters.