If you thought the Internet freaked out when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman last August, just wait until you hear this: the producers of 2016's Batman. Vs. Superman have just announced that the highly coveted role of Lex Luthor will be played by Jesse Eisenberg, the actor best known for portraying Facebook mastermind Mark Zuckerberg in 2010's The Social Network.
The news that Eisenberg will be playing one of the most famous villains in comic book history was followed by the reveal that film veteran Jeremy Irons will play Alfred, the trusted friend and mentor to Bruce Wayne most memorably embodied by Michael Caine in the Dark Knight trilogy. While Irons' casting is exciting, it's the announcement about Eisenberg that's the most intriguing; can a guy whose best-known feature is his awkwardness convincingly play one of the most notorious villains of all time?
The answer, we think, is yes. While Eisensberg may be more unassuming than most would-be supervillains, he's proven that he's capable of much more than just playing the nerd. Remember, much of Mark Zuckerberg's power came from his ruthlessness; Eisenberg didn't earn an Oscar nomination just for playing it safe. And before Facebook, there was Zombieland, where Eisenberg gave his survivalist character drive and determination; later, in 30 Seconds or Less, Eisenberg's Nick did whatever it took to stop his bomb from detonating. In role after role, the actor has shown that he's more than just a fast-talking geek, and there's no reason to think he couldn't take on a role as complex and challenging as Lex Luthor.
Besides, it's nice to see Eisenberg taking on such a meaty part. Since The Social Network, he's appeared in nine films and a handful of TV shows, but none of them have allowed him to show off his considerable acting chops as well as David Fincher's Oscar-winning film. Superman vs. Batman, though, should give Eisenberg a chance to show off the talents that earned him an Oscar nod.
Still, only time well tell. The film is a long ways away from release, and superhero movies of this level have a bad history of not living up to expectations. Hopefully, Superman vs. Batman will be different; with an A-list cast, a script by Argo scribe Chris Terrio, and a real, live actress playing Wonder Woman, the upcoming film might just be a welcome surprise.