Tom Hanks Was On The Studio Wish List To Play Lex Luthor

Jesse Eisenberg, star of The Social Network and the animated Rio franchise, landed the coveted Lex Luthor role in Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman (or whatever they end up calling it). Some complained. Most sided with our own Eric, who called Eisenberg the "perfect" choice to play the villainous part. Now wait until you hear who you almost got in the role.

In a THR column explaining why Warner went younger with Lex, Borys Kit and Tatiana Siegel confirm earlier reports that Adam Driver (of Girls) and Joaquin Phoenix had been in the mix for the Luthor role. Driver, who we initially thought was up for Nightwing, had a conflict that kept him out of Snyder’s movie, while Phoenix – according to THR – simply passed.

Joaquin GIF

Meanwhile, at one point, THR says the studio thought about going with a veteran actor to play Luthor, and the name on the studio’s wish list wasn’t Bryan Cranston (who was never approached, according to this article). It was Tom Hanks. The Oscar winner’s name reportedly was "discussed internally," though nothing came of it.

I hear you. That’s batshit insane, right? Hanks would NEVER commit to playing a villain in a Superman movie. But don’t you think that’s EXACTLY how people felt back when Gene Hackman signed on to play the role in Richard Donner’s 1978 masterpiece? At the time, Hackman was coming off Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far with Sean Connery and Michael Caine. He was Popeye Freaking Doyle. He didn’t need a superhero movie… and yet, he crushed in the part. I’m sure this was considered when they floated Hanks’ name, but it never was going to pan out.

So Eisenberg will be the one starring opposite Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck when Snyder’s sequel to Man of Steel finally begins filming. And in a related story, we learned that the movie begins filming in Michigan this summer.

This bit of info comes to us from the new, hottest source for all things Batman-Superman… Ms. Jennifer Garner. While promoting her upcoming football dramedy Draft Day, Garner went on Detroit’s own Sports 105.1 FM (via IGN) and explained that the whole family will be moving to The D so Ben can film his little Batman movie this summer. She jokes:

My husband is [filming in Detroit]. Batman is shooting and… or whatever it's called. I don't know what it's called… Superman with Batman, whatever it is. But he is shooting this summer, so we'll be there."

No one knows what it’s called. It might hit theaters without a title. Does it really need one? Probably not. It has Batman, Superman, and a Lex Luthor who isn’t Phoenix, Driver, or Hanks. Look for it in theaters in 2016.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.