Could Jesse Eisenberg be playing Robin? Could Jeremy Irons be playing Ra’s Al Ghul? No on both counts. Warner Bros. Pictures has confirmed that Jesse Eisenberg has been cast in the upcoming Batman/Superman film as Lex Luthor, and Jeremy Irons has been cast in the role of Alfred Pennyworth.
Like many people, you’re probably saying “What?”, right now, but I have to say I like these bold moves WB/DC is making. I mean, why not? Sure, Eisenberg’s casting signifies a marked shift from the Lex Luthor that most know (namely, Gene Hackman’s in the Richard Donner Superman films). However, just because we think of Lex Luthor as an older man doesn’t mean he always has been; just look at the television series Smallville, for one example. Eisenberg being cast in the role puts Luthor and Clark Kent/Superman on the same level, at least in terms of age; both Eisenberg and Henry Cavill, who will return to play Superman, are 30. This sets up a lot of potential for a long-running rivalry, if the film does well. On top of that, Eisenberg has demonstrated his ability to play cerebral characters with questionable motives, just look at The Social Network or Now You See Me.
As for Jeremy Irons? Not taking anything away from the role of Batman’s most trusted adviser and guardian, but it’s not a terribly complicated part, and Irons is more than capable of carrying it. He’s an Academy Award-winning actor, after all. In fact, with Irons having won an Academy Award and Eisenberg having been nominated for one, they now give the cast of Batman/Superman approximately a shitload of Academy Award nominees and winners (with the returning Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne; not to mention Affleck, who has won two non-acting Oscars). Does that guarantee quality? No, of course not, but it does offer the film a lot of potential and makes me willing to grant Zack Snyder and company a lot of leeway.
This announcement comes just a short time after the film’s release date was pushed back nearly a year from July 15, 2015, to May 6, 2016, so we have even longer to wait and see if these seemingly radical casting decisions pay off. WB/DC is definitely going for broke, though, and I like it.
Batman vs. Superman, or World’s Finest, or whatever the title ends up being (Justice League?), is being directed by returning director Zack Snyder, with a screenplay by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio; starring Henry Cavill, as Clark Kent/Superman; Ben Affleck, as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Gal Gadot, as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman; Amy Adams, as Lois Lane; and now, Jesse Eisenberg, as Lex Luthor; and Jeremy Irons, as Alfred Pennyworth, is scheduled to be released on May 6, 2016.