jesse-eisenberg-now-you-see-me

The internet balked at Ben Affleck as Batman. Wait ’til they get a load of this.

Jesse Eisenberg, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, has been cast to play Lex Luthor in director Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman. Rumored contenders had included Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston and Gladiator alum Joaquin Phoenix. However, the confirmed selection of Eisenberg suggests those men may have never been considered.

Eisenberg’s physique, age, and peculiar demeanor suggest Snyder will defy convention yet again. In Man of Steel, demure redhead Amy Adams was cast as dogged reporter Lois Lane. African-American actor Laurence Fishburne took on the role of Daily Planet editor Perry White. Most dramatically, Jimmy Olson became a Latina named Jenny. None of these casting choices were overstated upon execution. Each character took easily to their altered shell, proving that none were necessarily defined by physical characteristics.

Lex Luthor may prove different, however. With Eisenberg, Snyder would seem to be recasting Superman’s mortal nemesis as a young tech CEO in the Zuckerberg mold, a deep contrast to the crusty old versions we have seen onscreen before. It’s a bold choice, enhancing the ying/yang contrast between hero and villain. After all, you can’t get much less “man of steel” than Jesse Eisenberg.

Alongside the Eisenberg announcement, Warner Brothers confirmed that Jeremy Irons will join the cast as Alfred Pennyworth, butler and mentor to Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. With apologies to Michael Caine, that may make for the most intriguing portrayal of the character in history.

We will have to wait until next year to see how the production pans out. These offbeat casting choices may pay off in surprising ways.