Comic Culture: The “Eisenberg” Effect
Another day. Another casting announcement that seems to have split fanboys down the center. Unless you have been living under a rock you’ve probably already heard that Jesse Eisenberg has been cast as Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder’s forthcoming Batman vs. Superman movie (yes the guy from The Social Network). Now he’s definitely not the spitting image of the bald ego maniacal Superman villain; he’s actually far from it. But, I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing and I’ll tell you why.
For quite awhile other names likes Bryan Cranston, Joaquin Phoenix and even Denzel Washington were rumored for the coveted bad-guy role. All three of those actors would have been great, and I’m sure would have brought something different and unique to the role, but it seems like Snyder and company are looking to shake up the Superman cinematic mythos. And, in my mind it is more than needed. Snyder had a lot riding on him with Man of Steel, and whether you enjoyed the movie or not, it was clearly a box office success. People had a bad taste in their mouth from Brian Singer’s regurgitated Donner flick Superman Returns, which to be blunt was downright awful. So, certain aspects of the character were changed and some liberties were taken, but all in the hope to modernize old Supes and usher him in for a new generation. In my estimation, the same thing needs to be done with Luthor. Cue Jesse Eisenberg for the second chapter.
Have you seen The Social Network? Eisenberg’s portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is pretty spot on. And, Zuckerberg himself seems to be a pretty good modern comparison for the character of Luthor. I’m not saying he’s evil like Luthor; however, you can’t deny some of the similarities in their character. He’s a self-made billionaire, whose smug and confident and gets what he wants. In my mind, that sounds a lot like Lex Luthor. Yes both Eisenberg and Zuckerberg are a lot younger than Luthor and are also not as physically imposing, but haven’t we learned by now that it’s not all about the looks with these characters? The greatest portrayal of any character always comes from the most unexpected and left-field choice. *cough, cough Heath Ledger anyone? Also, keep in mind that these movies are made for the masses, not for fanboys. Sorry, but it’s true. There are simply not enough of us to fill the seats in these theaters to allow these studios to keep making these movies, and I am fine with that. Personally, I like a little surprise and intrigue with these casting choices. Why would you pay to see a word for word translation of a book onto the screen when you can just read the book? Where’s the excitement in that?
We’ve reached the point in mass culture where superheroes, and more importantly their movies are well received. Lastly, they make A LOT of money. So with any current and future casting choice and announcement there’s always going to be a microscope on it. And I say to each their own; everyone is allowed their own opinion. But frankly all the whining and negativity starts to become a drag. It’s ok to be confused and not 100% behind a casting choice, but at least keep an open mind about it. Not being a huge Superman fan, nor a Lex Luthor aficionado, perhaps I was able to remain a little more clear headed when I heard the announcement. But, either way, we all need to just chill out and wait and see. Yes, there’s always a chance that when studios and directors roll the dice on an awkward casting choice that it might not pan out. But, on the other end sometimes you get cinematic comic magic. So, while we wait for the movie to be released, let’s all go grab a stack of comics and remember why we love the genre so much. And with the next announcement let’s maybe look for the positive, instead of the negative. What do you say?