How Jesse Eisenberg Can Be Replaced As The DCEU’s Lex Luthor


I still remember back in 2013 when I heard that Jesse Eisenberg would be playing Lex Luthor. Just like very many other fans, I was not very excited about it. However, I’m still the kind of guy who likes to give every actor a chance and then I saw Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. What I saw was not the Lex Luthor I know and love. Seriously, what in the world was that jolly rancher scene all about?! Jesse Eisenberg’s performance didn’t resemble Lex Luthor’s ruthless and evil genius characteristics in the slightest. Instead, what we got was a hyperactive and annoying kid with a possible disorder who takes too much of his medication. If that’s a bad way to put it, it’s because that’s how he acted literally the entire movie.

It was kind of hard to watch and frankly, it’s part of the reason why Batman vs. Superman wasn’t a great movie. There’s something about this that really confuses me. Let’s do a little recap here. Zack Snyder casted Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot was Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and Jason Momoa as Aquaman. I mean, come on, he made Aquaman an awesome character just by casting Jason Momoa. If that doesn’t earn him kudos, I don’t know what does. The point is, he’s made some very good casting choices and contributed some amazing characters to the DCEU. So why, in the name of comics, did he ruin that streak by casting Jesse Eisenberg as one of the greatest comic book villains of all time?! What made him think scenes like the jolly rancher scene were actually something that Lex Luthor would do?

I don’t know, and I never will know. All I know is, and I know I’m not alone on this, is that Jesse Eisenberg clearly is not fit for that role. How can DC fix this? Well, I don’t think you can have a DCEU without Lex Luthor, so the answer is simple: recast Jesse Eisenberg. If Justice League 2 ever happens (it’s actually possible at this point) then his Lex Luthor cannot be the one to lead the Legion of Doom and fight Superman. It just can’t. The post-credits scene of Justice League set it up, but there is a way DC can work around it. The easiest way is to kill off Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. If he’s dead, there can still be another Lex Luthor to take his place. As weird as that sounds, it can be done.

Just hear me out, because this is a theory I’ve had since before Batman vs. Superman came out. I’ll start out by saying that the problems that I had with Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor extended beyond his wacky performance. For one, I didn’t understand his motivations. What were his exact reasons for hating Superman? Did he actually think he was fighting for humanity by going up against an all-powerful, godlike meta human? Or maybe he just didn’t like how someone else was more powerful than him? His exact motivations were never clear and that only made the villain much less interesting. Plus, he just seemed way too young to be a billionaire with so much power. Did Zack really intend for him to be the spoiled brat who just inherited his mass fortune? Sure, he was a genius, but we really didn’t get to see him really show it.

This was poor character development, with Jesse Eisenberg’s poor performance thrown into the mix. Those are ingredients that only spells for a recipe for failure. I mean, Jesse Eisenberg is not a big guy and yet he tried to look cool in front of Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent. That was a bad attempt to look intimidating and certainly wasn’t very amusing in the right way. Lex Luthor was never meant to be a physically imposing, but he intimidates people through his words. He uses his genius and cunning to overpower his enemies and even when he’s not being a villain, he still has that cold demeanor. Man, I loved Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor. Jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor was the exact opposite of that. More socially awkward and just irritating.

The theory I had in mind for Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is a stretch, but hear me out. Now just think about everything I said about his Luthor. He’s too young, not intimidating, socially awkward, not much of an evil genius, among other things. So my theory is that the Lex Luthor we saw in Batman vs. Superman is not the real Lex Luthor. The real Lex Luthor would be his father. I think about how the invitation he sent to Bruce Wayne said “Alexander Luthor” and I just thought to myself how Lex would name his son after him. Alexander Luthor was his full name, but he preferred to be called Lex to be as respected as his father. In BvS, Eisenberg’s Luthor also mentioned how his father was cruel to him as a child, something we would expect from the real Lex Luthor.

Eisenberg’s Luthor clearly had feelings of contempt towards his father, but also had an inferiority complex because he was living in his shadow. I’m guessing that’s why Eisenberg’s Luthor had it out for Superman. Superman was a powerful being, just like his father, but the difference between them is that his father was not a kind man. That’s why he couldn’t accept that Superman was there to help others, despite his incredible powers. In his eyes, Superman was just as cruel as his father and wanted to prove it. If that’s the case, that would’ve made for a great storyline, but that’s sadly not what we got.

So, if Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor shows up again, he’ll probably die. If he continues gathering villains to form the Legion of Doom, they’ll probably grow tired of his leadership and try to kill him. Or maybe they’ll all be defeated and once Eisenberg’s Luthor escapes, the real Lex Luthor, his father, will show up. He’ll be ashamed of his son for being such a failure and he’ll either kill him or do something to hurt him forever. Then the Lex Luthor we’re all familiar with will resurface to challenge Superman. If he did exist, where was he hiding the whole time? Well, he’s still a rich and very powerful man, so he would be capable of going into hiding and covering his tracks. It would be interesting to see why he would go into hiding, but that’s an opportunity to do something different with the character.

Now what if he didn’t harm his son, but Jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor died during a battle with the Justice League? The real Lex Luthor would be enraged that they killed his son and that would prompt him to come out of hiding and plot against them. Of course, it wouldn’t be their fault, but he wouldn’t care. Superman was the reason why his son was in prison, so this could be his motivation for wanting to kill Superman. He’ll pop in the scene very angry, vain, and openly expressing his desire to end Superman and the League. That’s exactly how Lex Luthor should be.

Okay, now I’ll admit, I do like Jesse Eisenberg. He’s good when he’s playing comedic characters, but Lex Luthor was not the role for him. If he is returning, I doubt there’s much more that can be done to improve his performance. I honestly vote just recasting him and bringing in a new Lex Luthor. The world of comic books is crazy, so why not?

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