Armchair Casting: Lex Luthor
Given the recent hullabaloo surrounding Ben Affleck’s (Argo) casting as Batman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film, I thought that now would be a great time to speculate as to who should be cast as Lex Luthor. It hasn’t been confirmed that Luthor will be appearing in the film Man of Steel’s ending provides Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) and co. the perfect opportunity to introduce him. So, why not speculate? After a long and arduous process, I finally came up with a list of eight actors that I believe could do tremendous things in the role. In an effort to shine the spotlight on some under-the-radar names, as well as respecting the ability of guys you’ve heard of, I’ve divided those eight names into two groups and they’re essentially Names You Know and Names You Probably Don’t Know. So, now that the table is set, why don’t we invite our guests to sit down? Get it? Like it’s an actual table! Man, I crack myself up. Anyways…
By far the biggest name on the list, DiCaprio (The Departed) would be a curious choice, if only because he has yet to involve himself in the superhero world, despite being rumored for 98% of the roles being cast in the past 5-10 years. Admittedly, I actually stole the idea of him in the role from a comment section on a website but after I read it (and initially rejected its plausibility), it got me thinking about how great he’d actually be in the role. In fact, I’d say that he’s damn near perfect for the role because he can play the friendly rich guy that can persuade the public just as well as he can the vindictive megalomaniac that will stop at nothing to get what he wants. All of that said, I do have to come back to the plausibility of his casting. Nevermind the fact that he’s already got a bajillion projects in development (Affleck had a few as well so it’s not impossible to work around) or the fact that he seems determined to win an Oscar sooner rather than later (just look at the roles he’s chosen lately), let’s just focus on the fact that if he hasn’t done it yet, so why would he now? If working with Chistopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy) couldn’t persuade him to take a role (and he was supposedly being pursued to play The Riddler in The Dark Knight Rises) in a superhero film, then how would Zack Snyder? Granted, Nolan’s still involved in some capacity so he could always be brought in to recruit him if that’s who they really want but I’m sure DiCaprio would prefer working with Nolan in the director’s chair as opposed to him checking in from elsewhere. Unfortunately, I just don’t see it happening.
Alright, I’ll admit to picking this one in part because of the sheer WTF factor that it would bring. Him and Ben don’t really look enough alike that it would draw away from the movie unless you’re aware of the fact that they’re brothers (hard not to with the same last name). However, Casey (The Assassination of Jesse James) would be an interesting choice for the role because he’d bring a different type energy to the character, one perhaps a bit more psychopathic. That may or may not sound good on paper but I have no doubt in his ability to pull it off. It will never happen because it would confuse too many people but Casey Affleck certainly deserves a major role like this one, especially since the only major roles he’s had in wide-audience fare is as part of an ensemble in both the Ocean’s trilogy and Tower Heist.
I very much doubt this would ever happen because Norton’s (The Incredible Hulk) already done the superhero thing and it didn’t work out but Norton would be a very solid choice for the role. I’m not quite sure that he would make something entirely memorable but he would definitely do well with the part, ergo he’s probably the safest choice outside of DiCaprio. You know what he’s going to bring to the table.
You’ll notice that most of the actors above are older but Hammer is the one exception. To be honest, I’m not even quite sure if he belongs in this category or the next one. On one hand, he’s been in some pretty big films with The Lone Ranger being the standout. However, those roles have not led to box office success in the slightest. That’s not exactly indicative of Hammer’s talent, he just needs to choose his roles better. Hammer is incredibly charismatic and as proven in The Social Network, he can play a pretty big dick very well so I have no doubt that he’d excel as Lex Luthor.
The following are not household names but if they were to excel in this role, they would obviously become one. They’re also younger than the previous suggestions
Rockwell (Iron Man 2) was really the first name to pop into my head when I started thinking about this article. For one, I’m a huge fan of his and two, I think he’s probably the perfect man for the job, perhaps even moreso than DiCaprio. The thing about Rockwell is that he’s kind of a chameleon, someone who has played a variety of different roles but they all pretty much have one thing common: they’re acted well. Perhaps the biggest knock against Rockwell for the role is the fact that he essentially already played it by being Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2. Hammer obviously wasn’t as big of a villain as Luthor is in the DC Universe but the character motivations are essentially the same, except Hammer didn’t want to eliminate an alien on Earth. I don’t think his Marvel experience would prevent him from getting the part but I also don’t think that
This one works two-fold, one because Goode (Watchmen) was actually rumored to be in the running for the Batman role but also because Goode has a history with director Zack Snyder. That relationship likely caused the interest in him for Batman in the first place so I don’t see why it wouldn’t help for this role? If you’ve seen Watchmen then you probably have some idea as to why I think Goode could pull of the role.
Honestly, I’m almost including Evans (Fast & Furious 6) simply because I thought he would’ve been an inspiring choice for Batman but he obviously did fit the criteria they were looking for. If they were looking for a Batman similar to the one that Christian Bale (The Dark Knight trilogy) just got done playing then I think Evans would’ve been a great choice. He didn’t quite fit as Batman for them but he could fit for Lex Luthor. Evans is about to break out in a huge way so it’s only a matter of time until they’re not able to land him for a role like this because he’s too busy (he might be already with the Dracula reboot coming up) but he did good work in Fast 6 and I think he could really knock this out of the park if given the chance.
This one is perhaps the most bizarre choice simply because Minghella (The Social Network) is obviously not white. However, sticking with what is shown in the comics simply because they came first doesn’t appeal to me. If the actor is right for the role and the character itself has no features that it’s necessary for them to be a certain race (like Black Panther couldn’t be white, obviously) then I really don’t see why there’s an issue and the overreaction that comes with stories like this would be (Donald Glover for Spider-Man, Idris Elba on everybody’s wish list for every superhero and Bond ever, etc.) is one of my least favorite aspects of the internet. Warner Bros. would probably avoid it simply to avoid another internet meltdown after the Affleck casting but Minghella would be a pretty darn perfect younger Lex Luthor. He could essentially play the same character from The Social Network but with more ruthlessness.
Those are the guys who would be on my shortlist if I were in charge of casting the role but gun to my head, who would I pick out of them? Sam Rockwell; always Sam Rockwell! Think you got a better ideas? Hit the comments or get at me on Twitter @kyle_igr and we can have words!