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Why It's Not At All Weird That Jesse Eisenberg is the New Lex Luthor

Why It's Not At All Weird That Jesse Eisenberg is the New Lex Luthor

By Ryan Britt

DC Entertainment

I’ll bet upon hearing Jesse Eisenberg will be the new Lex Luthor in the upcoming Superman/Batman flick, lot of you probably sputtered a reaction that sounded something like whaaaat? But is it really so strange? But having seen all this dude’s movies, and meeting him in real life for a hot second (he was nice!) I think it’s safe to say he’s the ideal Luthor, if only because he conveys a quirkily specific sort of genius. Lex Luthor isn’t a baddie, but instead someone who is smarter than everyone else in the room. And the thing Jesse Eisenberg has going for him on that front is simple: he subtly conveys loopy brilliance without making you think he’s doing anything at all.

The cultural-cyber elephant in the room, which doubtlessly lead to his casting of Lex Luthor has got to be his portrayal of Facebook guru Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. If you haven’t seen it then seriously, what’s your problem? You don’t have to love the movie, or even like it, to notice how effective Eisenberg’s performance is in the film. Before that movie was released, there was a lot of buzzing concern that it would smear Zuckerberg and transform him into a megalomaniacal jerk, only interested in wealth, power, and girls. But, if you saw the film, you’d see that wasn’t the case. As played by Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Zuckerberg was a guy who was too smart for his own good while still being just smart enough to change his life, and the world, forever. The essence of the character of Lex Luthor is the same. Lex is not a guy driven to being bad by some sort of need for vengeance or madness or any other tired cliché, but simply uses his brilliance to gain power because he thinks he’s supposed to.

In The Social Network and the totally underrated Now You See Me, Jesse Eisenberg asserts this kind of unique, and sometimes scary confidence, which makes you believe he notices more about the world than you think he does, or at the very least, the stuff important to him. In a world of bad guys hell-bent on avenging someone or blowing something up, and filmmakers always claiming that their villain is “different,” the casting of Jesse Eisenberg in the next big superhero thing is totally refreshing.

But the best reason he’s a great Lex Luthor choice is because he’s already squared off against Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man!) in The Social Network. After Spidey, Superman’s gonna be cake for this guy.

Tags: movies, batman, jesse eisenberg, superman, books-and-comics, opinion

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About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths , forthcoming from Plume Books in Fall of 2015. His writing has appeared with The New York Times, The Awl, VICE, The MindHut, Electric Literature, Tor.com, and elsewhere. He's taught for The Gotham Writers' Workshop and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop and lives in New York City.

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