Academy Award-nominee for his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” Jesse Eisenberg plays one of the most fascinating anti-heroes in cinema – Lex Luthor, in Warner Bros. Pictures’ new action-adventure “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Eisenberg infuses the character with a very sinister humor, one that arises from an illogical obsession with Superman.
“Lex Luthor has always been one of the great DC villains. And one of the most epic stories in the canon was when Batman and Superman squared off against each other,” offers producer Charles Roven. “As we sought an expansion of the universe with this film, we felt that bringing these characters together was natural.”
To carry Lex Luthor into 2016, Oscar-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio (“Argo”) recalls asking himself, “What would a capitalist gone mad look like today?” Looking for real-world inspiration from many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations, he found an environment that “often cultivates eccentricity as a virtue and rewards outside-the-box innovation.”
Adding those qualities to a damaged psyche, he re-imagined Lex as “a younger, brilliant, post-modern villain aware of his own villainy who has chosen to use his wealth and power to bring down one whose own power appears limitless.”
“If you look at Lex in the comics, there’s a brilliant absurdity to his scenes,” Eisenberg offers. “He’s always trying to concoct these very complicated schemes to kill Superman; it’s funny in the way that he is so focused on this one thing. And even though he might appear pretty serious, to me he’s this clever person who uses word play and puns to talk circles around people, to condescend to them. Lex uses his cleverness to his advantage in a dark way.”
The filmmakers were really pleased with this new interpretation. “We wanted a character who conveyed exactly what a young, compelling, constantly innovating, genius entrepreneurial businessman is like,” says Roven. “Somewhat mercurial, always magnetic; someone you can’t take your eyes off. Jesse was perfect for this. His performance is truly mesmerizing. He surpassed all our expectations.”
Eisenberg enjoyed playing with Luthor’s fanatical nature. “Lex thinks of Superman as almost an existential paradox—he cannot be all good because he’s so powerful or all powerful if he’s all good,” he hypothesizes. “On the flip side, Lex wants to be the most powerful person, but for him that’s okay because he is a person, he’s earned it, whereas Superman is this horrible alien interloper who doesn’t even deserve to exist. Lex is so myopic that he views his own morality as the only correct belief system in the world, and anybody opposing him is immoral and needs to be kind of destroyed.”
A good deal of Lex’s bad traits may stem from his dad, which he alludes to in the film. “Lex has a degree of self-awareness about his own relationship with his father, who was this powerful but abusive guy, and he somehow draws a parallel to Superman that makes him automatically distrust him. Modern psychology would probably diagnose Lex as some kind of narcissistic sociopath who is funny and charming but isn’t capable of empathy. As an actor, it’s really fun because you’re able to behave in all sorts of ways that would probably get you arrested, but do it in a safe environment.”
From director Zack Snyder comes “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” starring Oscar winner Ben Affleck (“Argo”) as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent in the characters’ first big-screen pairing.
Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
Opening across the Philippines in IMAX, Dolby Cinema, 3D and 2D theaters on Black Saturday, March 26, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.