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Ever since Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Lex Luthor in January of 2014, we've been slowly learning more about what his version of the billionaire criminal mastermind will be up to in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The trailers have certainly shown us that Eisenberg’s portrayal will be much different from previous iterations, moving away from the villain’s more stereotypically evil side. However, before The Social Network star joined the 2016 blockbuster, director Zack Snyder had a very different role in mind for Eisenberg.
Although Eisenberg clearly has a good hold on the DCEU’s Luthor’s psyche, Zack Snyder revealed to The Los Angeles Times that he originally looked at the actor for another character, though he wouldn’t identity who this was. Snyder said:
Let's call it a secret, but nevertheless it was the exact opposite of Lex Luthor.
Looking over Superman’s cast of supporting characters and the folks appearing in the movie, there’s only one candidate who fits as Luthor’s "exact opposite": Jimmy Olsen, The Daily Planet’s most well known photographer. Although the character hasn’t officially been revealed to be in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s rumored that Halt and Catch Fire’s Scoot McNairy is playing an older Jimmy whose legs were crushed during Man of Steel’s climatic showdown between Superman and Zod. If that's the case, then this likely would have been Eisenberg’s only outing in the DCEU, as McNairy recently alluded that he won’t appear in any other movies. Beyond Jimmy, it’s hard to say who Snyder means, though it did briefly pop my head that Jesse Eisenberg might have been considered to play Barry Allen, a.k.a. The Flash. No, even that seems a bit ridiculous.
Regardless of Zack Snyder’s original plans, the director’s made it clear on numerous occasions that he’s happy with how Jesse Eisenberg’s performance turned out. Just like most versions of Luthor’s, Eisenberg’s is eager to discredit Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, believing the Kryptonian is a threat to our way of life, and will use the massive resources at his disposal to accomplish this goal. However, the specifics of his plan are still a mystery. All we know is that it will involve Kryptonite, Doomsday, and reportedly kidnapping Superman’s mother. If Luthor is as conniving as his comic book counterpart, then it’s likely he’ll either escape or avoid arrest by the end of Dawn of Justice, and he’ll return to cause more trouble. In other words, don’t be surprised if Eisenberg gets to explore Luthor more in a later movie.
Moviegoers will see what the latest interpretation of Lex Luthor is like when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is released on March 25.