The DC Cinematic Universe added two more big Hollywood names to their cast.
On Friday, January 31, 2014, Warner Bros. Pictures announced the castings of Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, The Social Network, Now You See Me) as Lex Luthor, Superman’s famous foe, and Jeremy Irons (Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Lion King, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Borgias) as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s loyal servant and father-like figure.
Eisenberg and Irons, both Academy Award nominated actors, join DC-newcomers Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman) and Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), along with returning actors Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Lawrence Fishburne (Perry White), and Diane Lane (Martha Kent) in director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel.
Snyder addressed the Eisenberg casting, saying “Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940. What’s great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He’s a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions.”
Media and fan speculation indicated that Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston would be cast as Lex Luthor, but the casting of Eisenberg came as a surprise to many. The reaction on social media was met with mixed reactions, ranging from Eisenberg being typecast as a comedy actor or that he is “too young” for the role.
Meanwhile, the casting of Irons as Alfred was met with much more positive reaction, with many Twitter users praising the choice.
Eisenberg joins a long list of actors to portray Superman’s infamous enemy, has some rather large shoes to fill. The list of actors to portray Lex Luthor in live action include Lyle Talbot (Atom Man vs Superman), Gene Hackman (Superman, Superman II and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace), Scott Wells and Sherman Howard (Superboy), John Shea (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) and Kevin Spacey (Superman Returns).
Irons joins a shorter list of actors to portray Alfred Pennyworth. The list of actors to portray Alfred Pennyworth in live action include William Austen (the 1943 Batman serial), Eric Wilton (the 1949 Batman and Robin serial), Alan Napier (Batman [the 1966 TV series and the 1966 film based off the show]), Michael Gough (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin), Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey) and Michael Cain (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises).
The upcoming Superman/Batman movie is set to open on May 6, 2016.