Jesse Eisenberg will play famous villain Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder’s untitled sequel to 2012’s “Man of Steel,” which will see Henry Cavill’s Superman match wits with Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.
Actor Jeremy Irons also has been cast as Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred, according to a statement issued by Warner Bros. Friday. The character had been played by Michael Caine in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Gotham City trilogy.
Though Internet rumors last year widely suggested Bryan Cranston would be tapped to play Luthor, the role ultimately went to Eisenberg, famous for roles in such films as “Zombieland” and “The Social Network.” In that David Fincher film, he played Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and earned an Oscar nomination for his performance.
“Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940,” Snyder said in the statement. “What’s great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He’s a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions.”
The director added, “As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure. He is an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman. It is an honor to have such an amazingly seasoned and gifted actor as Jeremy taking on the important role of the man who mentors and guides the guarded and nearly impervious facade that encapsulates Bruce Wayne.”
One of the biggest hits of last summer, “Man of Steel” grossed more than $291 million at the North American box office. Producers Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder are returning for the follow-up, with Nolan and Emma Thomas serving as executive producers along with Benjamin Melniker and Michael E. Uslan.
Returning “Man of Steel” cast members include Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Diane Lane also will reprise her role as Martha Kent.
Earlier this month, Warner Bros. pushed the release date of the “Man of Steel” follow-up from July 17, 2015, to May 6, 2016. The studio said the move was designed to allow “the filmmakers time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story.”
The “Man of Steel” sequel goes into production later this year, and is set to film in Michigan.
The project was originally announced last year at San Diego’s Comic-Con International.
– Gina McIntyre
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