Last week we learned more about the casting for the Man of Steel sequel; which may or may not be called Batman vs Superman. Jesse Eisenberg will play villain Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons will be Alfred. The latter decision seems popular – Jeremy Irons is after all Jeremy Irons is Jeremy Irons and can therefore be relied on to turn in an excellent performance. By contrast, the mumbling nerdy Eisenberg seems a lot less Lex like – the most iconic Superman villain of all – than other names floated like Bryan Cranston and Joaquin Phoenix. This is not the first of Zack Snyder’s casting decision to provoke incredulity: Ben Affleck as Batman is to say the least not universally popular.
This continues a pattern of the Snyder/Nolan reboot of the Superman franchise creating controversy. Man of Steel split opinion between those who thought it was an exciting new take on the franchise and those who thought it was too grim. Despite branding it the most disappointing film of 2013, I am firmly in the pro camp. And it seems Batman vs Superman has even begun filming I’m defending that too.
I’d argue that in hindsight the casting of Eisenberg is actually quite obvious. One can easily imagine modelling a contemporary version of Luthor – a billionaire with delusions of grandeur and an inferiority complex – on Zuckerberg. And from there settling on the Social Network star is not exactly a great leap.
As for Affleck, several years ago I would have wholeheartedly agreed that he was a terrible choice. However, he has undergone a positively McConaugheyesque turnaround. If he was still in his Daredevil/Gigli phase then despondency would be in order. However, the Town and Argo have established him as an accomplished actor and director. There’s no reason to imagine he won’t deliver an equally sound performance in Batman vs Superman.
I’m glad Snyder has gone beyond the obvious actors. To be worthwhile a rebooted franchise has to do something different from what went before. Some fresh casting choices should help with that.
My concerns lie elsewhere. I’m nervous how Wonder Women with her supernatural origins will be fitted into what is essentially a sci-fi story. I also worry about how Snyder will perform as a director without the backstop of Christopher Nolan as producer. Not that this is a mistake: there is no way anyone should be expected to direct a Batman film with the definitive Batman director looking over their shoulder.
Still these are quibbles. I am excited to see what Snyder does with his new cast.