***!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!*** IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN BATMAN V SUPERMAN YET, MAYBE DON’T READ THIS ARTICLE! BUT GO SEE IT, FOR REAL, THE CRITICS ARE WAY OFF BASE HERE.
I’ve seen Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice a couple of times now. Contrary to the opinion of everyone else apparently, I liked the movie. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good movie that I enjoyed. It was reported earlier that due to the film not being classified a success by Warner Bros, that they are going to rework some of their plans for additional DC movies. By the way, their definition of “success” is making $1,000,000,000. That’s “billion” with a “B”. I’m glad my boss doesn’t hold me to the same standard. Plus, I would love to make a failure that only makes $400,000,000 in one weekend.
All of that got me thinking about what is becoming a theme on this blog, “What would I have done?” The one thing that stands out about BVS for me is Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor. It’s really an out there performance and is awkward in the context of this movie. In reality, someone with Luthor’s peculiarities would not interact with the social circles that this Lex has access too. You can be as rich as you want, but you can’t give rambling, disjointed speeches at charity events and still be expected. Eccentric, loner scientist Luthor is a valid way to go with the character. Public face of a Fortune 500 company Luthor that hides behind the law is another perfectly valid take on the character. Haphazardly mashed together, doesn’t work so well. In all honesty, if there had been an explanation about Luthor having some form of autism, that would have greatly improved the character. Plus, it would have been a completely unique take on this character that is 76 years old. Much better than the one with weak motivations that we got.
This all leads me to, what to do with Luthor is subsequent outings. In the scene where the senators meet Luthor at Lexcorp, he stats that his dad was the “Lex” in “Lexcorp.” The character of Lex Luthor’s father has had several names, now more widely recognized as Lionel, but as far as I know, never Lex. This means that the character we are seeing is Lex Luthor, Jr. Previous articles online even named the character Alexander Luthor, Jr. This scene is most likely the reason why.
Therefore, in this new cinematic universe, there is a Lex Luthor, Sr. As to why Lex, Sr. isn’t dealt with in the story, probably because Jr. did what Luthors do. In every version of Lex Luthor’s origin that I can think of, Lex offs his father. Following that logic, Lex Luthor, Sr. slew his father and rose to power. Keep in mind, in the continuity established by Man of Steel, Superman doesn’t publicly appear until his early 30’s. That means Lex, Sr. has plenty of time to prosper, unimpeded by any pesky, flying do-gooders. As such, he had a son who then grew up to challenge his father. Being more experienced, and likely more ruthless, Lex, Sr. would have survived an attack by his son. In all likelihood, he would expect his son to follow in his footsteps, and make contingencies to stop him. So, if Sr. isn’t dead, which he most likely isn’t given his resources, he is still out there.
With Lex, Jr. being imprisoned at the end of BVS, there is sure to be a vacuum in Metropolis. Who better to step in and take the reins of Lexcorp once again, than it’s founder, Lex Luthor, Sr.? This leads to a cleans slate with the Luthor character. A more realistic, grounded approach to the character. Also, motivation in the form of going after the superheroes that imprisoned his heir. Now there would be a character who could weave in and out of several DC films.
As far as casting this character, I listed Mads Mikkelsen as my choice to play Lex Luthor in previous posts. However, that is for another series of Superman films I would like to see. This is an already established universe and so the character needs to fit within what already exists. So my choice would be for the early internet casting rumor for Eisenberg’s role, Bryan Cranston. I know I balked at first when that rumor was making the rounds. Cranston was coming off of the great villain role of Walter White and people were excited for what he was going to do next. Fandom also has a bad habit of casting whatever bald actor is popular at the time for every traditionally bald role. How many times has Patrick Stewart been fan cast for a bald character? Cranston can play the manipulative villain and the caring father as we have seen on Breaking Bad. His versatility as an actor would be a great addition to these films. This might be the only way we get Cranston in a superhero movie, too. It seems improbable that he would be slipping on any spandex soon. Bonus, he already knows how to deal with punks named Jesse.
As far as the hair goes, I can see the scene were Eisenberg gets his head shaved, retroactively becoming a metaphor for him becoming his father. His longer locks may also have been in defiance against his father’s famously bald look.