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Controversial Casting for 'Batman vs. Superman' Continues

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The sequel to last year's Man of Steel from Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Warner Bros. studio has had more than its share of criticism regarding casting choices. With the most recent news about the film, it seems that things aren't going to change any time soon. After weeks of rumor and speculation tossing out everyone from Bryan Cranston and Joaquin Phoenix to Denzel Washington as potentially being courted for the role, the upcoming "Batman vs. Superman" film finally has its Lex Luthor.

Jesse Eisenberg, best known for films such as Zombieland, The Social Network, and Now You See Me, has been cast as Superman's archenemy in the 2016 film. Reactions have been mixed, with some fans decrying the casting as worthy of ridicule while others are excited to see what Eisenberg brings to the film.

Eisenberg's casting wasn't the only "Batman vs. Superman" announcement made recently, however; it was also revealed that Jeremy Irons would play Alfred Pennyworth, Batman/Bruce Wayne's faithful butler who was most recently played by Michael Caine in Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy.

What this tells us
Though there have been questions raised by some of Warner's casting decisions for "Batman vs. Superman," there are a few hints about the film's direction that we can pick up from the choices that the casting directors have made. Keep in mind that this is ignoring rumors such as the "U.N. Justice League" and other claims that have been made about the film, since even Eisenberg's casting shows that rumors don't always bear fruit.

Eisenberg's casting shows that the film will feature a younger Lex Luthor. This is similar to how the character was portrayed by Michael Rosenbaum in "Smallville," putting him similar in age to Superman instead of being an older character as many of the rumors had him pegged. Given Luthor's skill with technology and Eisenberg's age, it's possible that this version of Lex will be an opportunistic tech-industry whiz kid; I wouldn't be overly surprised to see the producers draw influence from the likes of Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg for the new Lex because of the younger age at which they came to prominence.

As for Jeremy Irons' casting as Alfred, it hints that the producers still want a strong English actor to portray the character. Irons is a classically trained actor who has been in the London theatre since 1969 and has won Emmys, a Tony, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and even an Oscar for his acting work. Of course, he also starred in Dungeons and Dragons and Eragon, so he isn't above making bad movies every once in a while.

It's possible that "Batman vs. Superman" will feature a slightly more action-oriented, Alfred similar to the character's portrayal in the animated series "Beware the Batman" and occasionally in the comics, though any action scenes would likely be very limited to keep the focus on the main protagonists.

Is this a good sign?
As more casting choices are announced, we're getting a slightly better view of the direction that Warner Bros. is going with the Man of Steel sequel.

The choice of Israeli Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, for example, shows that the film will portray the character a bit closer to her origins -- though she would have been closer to Greek than Israeli, the casting still differentiates her from the standard "American" portrayal that's been seen on screen.

Even the much-maligned casting of Ben Affleck as Batman hints that the character might be a more intellectual character than action-oriented -- Affleck isn't exactly known for his action roles, and action-based roles such as Daredevil and Reindeer Games are frequently cited among his worst films.

The casting of Irons and Eisenberg may have been done to add a bit more credibility to the project, especially in the case of Irons, as it will give Affleck a strong actor to play off of, similar to how Christian Bale's Batman was tempered and guided by Michael Caine's and Morgan Freeman's characters.

It's also similar to the direction that Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel Studios has taken with the supporting casting for its films, with actors such as Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford, Glenn Close, and most recently Michael Douglas taking roles in Marvel superhero films.

The cinematic showdown
With over two years between now and when the "Batman vs. Superman" film is slated to hit theaters, there's still a lot of speculation ahead as to what the final movie will be. It also remains to be seen whether Warner Bros. will hold fast to its May 6 release date, since Marvel Studios shows no signs of backing off with the unannounced film that it also has scheduled for the date.

Warner needs a solid hit with this film as it will be the launching point of a larger cinematic universe. Without it, the gap between its DC Comics movies and the shared Marvel Studios universe will grow even wider. While some of the early casting choices for the film were questionable, the addition of Eisenberg and Irons has renewed the faith of some fans and has them interested in where the project is headed.

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Read/Post Comments (25) | Recommend This Article (13)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 2:47 PM, nickel1964 wrote:

    This makes me think of when it was announced that Michael Keaton would be playing Batman way back when. As I recall, there were many who thought that was a bad decision, but in the end they were won over by his performance. I for one will wait to see how these people do before making judgment.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 2:57 PM, Zatannux wrote:

    This is either going to be the Greatest movie ever made or the worst POS to ever be released in the history of cinema. There is no middle ground...

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 3:54 PM, johnnynuts wrote:

    If they're shooting for Eisenberg to bring to Lex Luthor what Heath Ledger brought to The Joker then they're heading towards disappointment

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 4:24 PM, Mentallect wrote:

    I do not get the actor chosen to play Lex Luthor. He seems odd, and out of place there.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 4:27 PM, BlackSuave wrote:

    I think the casting crew Warner Bros. is secretly working for Marvel. No, but seriously. Fire these jokers while there's still time. God, fire these fools.

    The people being offered these roles need to also look and say, 'I don't know if I'm the one for this role'. Stars turn down roles all the time. It's not a knock on the role or the script to say, 'this role isn't for me'. Everyone can't play every role, and the smart ones who know their limitations would do the right thing.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 4:52 PM, scrotuc wrote:

    I hope the addition of the Lex Luthor character doesn't result in comedy as it did in the past.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 7:07 PM, squilton85 wrote:

    Filming hasn't started yet, relax. This movie could be a hit in a few years. I mean Zack Snyder is directing it :)

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 10:56 PM, Superbat wrote:

    "your fool username will be displayed with your comment." I practically just created an account to notify that they spelled "Full" wrong, its not fool. sorry it just bothered me, Alot.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 11:11 PM, JMCodd1 wrote:

    -Superbat, you are commenting on FOOL.COM It is referring to your username on the site. Your FOOL username.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 11:42 PM, summerv wrote:

    I think Irons is a good choice, I love his work. As for Eisenberg, I'm not so sure about that choice but I am definitely intrigued to see where it goes. Same for Gal Gadot, I really hope she gives a great performance. I kind of wish they chose a stronger female lead with more experience under her belt, but I have faith in the cast!

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 11:50 PM, DevonShire123 wrote:

    If I filmed myself taking a dump, it would be more compelling that "B vs. S"

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 12:13 AM, wingman wrote:

    Agreed Devon. Esp if it was a weird texture or color, but agreed regardless. I've thought Eisenberg and Affleck were really good in at least one movie each before now, but it's too much for actors I 1) see as an ironic kid and 2) a guy I still don't take completely serious quite yet despite the improvement over time. This is turning into Clooney, Shwarzenegger, and Alicia Silverstone.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 12:16 AM, Siphon92 wrote:

    This movie going to be a giant cluster f***. I really liked Man of Steel but I will agree that it had it's fare share of flaws, and I attribute them to Zack Snyder. To me, he did an ok job only handling ONE super hero. I don't trust him doing a good job on a movie with 3(or more?) major superheroes and maybe just as many villains, and try to make a story that can fit them all in. I just don't think he has the skill to do it.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 6:28 AM, bigun33 wrote:

    I'm not sure that Eisenberg has the chops to be Lex Luthor. He and Bruce Wayne are supposed to be contemporaries with Lex being a little older, and considerably oilier! Gal Gadot better be eating cheeseburgers, she's got a bustier to fill out! If you read Batman: Earth One, Alfred is more than a butler, he's also a former British S.A.S. member, I hope that's the direction they take with Alfred. That would be cool!

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 6:33 AM, ErikViking wrote:

    In all my many years of reading DC comics, Luthor was a tall man comparable to Superman in height. Cavill is 6' 1", Eisenberg is a mere 5' 7.5", and certainly not the imposing character Luthor always seemed to be,.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 11:25 AM, virgilcole wrote:

    What all the new casting actually hints at is that this "sequel" really is going to be the giant steaming pile it is destined to be.

    It's like they are pulling ideas out of a hat.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 12:00 PM, Lycastus wrote:

    Cavil is good. Afleck waaay wrong, he's a lousy choice, will ruin Batman. Gadot needs a Boob job. Eisenberg wrong choice, he's about as intimidating as gerbil. Snyders movie will fail, and he will have killed off two franchises or more in one fell swoop!

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 12:42 PM, Paddlinpals wrote:

    I really want this movie franchise to succeed, but man its becoming over engineered, too many stars , too may delays

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 2:34 PM, brett1368 wrote:

    I think Jesse Eisenburger is a great actor, just unfit for this movie. But then again, all the new actors cast in this film are downright horribly miscast.

    I think WB knows this movie is going to be one big steaming POS. So, to make sure Ben Affleck doesn't take ALL the blame, they are casting unfit actors all around him so when it flops, they won't just blame Affleck, they'll blame EVERYONE.

    Either way, I have less than zero interest in this movie, from when Affleck was cast. WB's recent castings only confirms my disinterest.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 4:16 PM, mindofsteve0 wrote:

    Kevin Spacey was the best Lex Luthor ever.....wish they would bring him back

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 4:26 PM, Phalcon1 wrote:

    Yah, you know I don't even want to go see this movie anymore. I'll just be happy with Captain American Winter Soldier and Avengers 2.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 6:21 PM, WizardsFirstRule wrote:

    The movie can still be salvaged with this cast. Just kill off Batman, Lex Luthor and Wonder woman in the first thirty seconds and finish the movie with Superman and Alfred. Probably going to have to cast someone else to be the real bad guy since Lex bit it so early though. Maybe Jada Pinkett-Smith since we are just pulling names out of a hat?

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2014, at 1:56 AM, saphirantcross wrote:

    "Of course, [Irons] also starred in Dungeons and Dragons and Eragon, so he isn't above making bad movies every once in a while."

    You're forgetting the differences between American Actors (The Star System, Celebrity, Wheelhouse Typecasting), and the British Acting Tradition (There is no such thing as a small role, only small actors; a good actor is always working, always taking roles.)

    Think about it. Patrick Stewart hasn't been exactly performing King Lear lately. But he's still working. Liam Neeson has had his share of less than noteworthy action roles in the last 5 years. Michael Caine: biggest accolades are from Educating Rita and The Ciderhouse Rules. Probably wants to forget his work in Cars 2 and Austin Powers. Have I said enough?

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 4:06 AM, FoolsRushInAgian wrote:

    Whatever happens to this film, the teaser at the end should have a background of a yellow trail being chased by a green trail, flying superfast in the horizon/sky, catching the attention of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 8:30 AM, batmanvssuperman wrote:

    Dude I'm super stoked for this new film. I think that it would be refreshing for a new cast and yet the fact that he idea was already said and rejected makes me even more mad. We could have had this movie earlier and also not have to go through this whole casting and movie date controversy. I also think that DC should get the May 6, 2016 movie release date and not Marvel because we have no clue about the movie nor what it is going to be about. DC had already laid out their cards and Marvel is being that little shy kid in the back with a big secret to hide. Lets face it Batman vs. Superman is most likely going to be the biggest blockbuster of 2016 and their is no need to wait any longer. There is also the fact that the trailer poster was released December 14, 2011 in the movie I Am Legend. Lets just hope that Marvel will back down even if DC has to put up a fight.

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John Casteele

John Casteele is a freelance writer, editor, and occasional web cartoonist. He prefers long-term investments, largely in retail, medical, and tech.

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