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Review of Jesse Eisenberg's Performance as Lex Luthor: Has He Become Superman's Joker?

I went into 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' with an open mind, though I was skeptical about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor; I am still not sure what to make of it.

By Tyler S. CallawayPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

Warning: This article will contain spoilers for Batman v Superman.

I went into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice keeping an open mind about the plot, characters, and of course the actors playing them. I was skeptical of Ben Affleck as Batman, but was proven wrong and I was skeptical about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, but I am still not sure what to make of it.

In the comics Lex Luthor was the smartest man alive and had a calm, but confident demeanor about him. In this movie Lex Luthor is obviously younger than any incarnation of the character, but also very spastic and on the brink of insanity.

I can see the appeal to this version of Luthor. He was obsessed with Superman and wanted to see the fall of the "God." It gave his character a purpose for being the archenemy for the Man of Steel, and Eisenberg did a good job of showing the characters true hatred for him.

This take on Luthor reminded me a little of the Joker though. What I mean by this is that Luthor's obsession with killing Superman led him to kill multiple people and create Doomsday, a beast that could not be controlled and Luthor gave no regard to the death and destruction he released onto the world. Sound familiar? Add on his spastic behavior and this Luthor is essentially Superman's Joker.

Now, I would call him a more controlled Joker. While he his a sociopathic maniac, he still is able to function in normal life and has a genius level intellect.

It is a very interesting take on the character, but is it really needed in this universe? DC comics already has so many psychotic serial killers in it's lore with Joker, Riddler, and Harley Quinn; so do we really need another one?

Jared Leto (Joker) and Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn)

It is cool that Superman gets his own personal crazy person, but is it the best version of the character we could have gotten?

I hate comparing the comic book version of Luthor with the version we got in the movie, because they are two different takes on the character. I think it is fair to note the differences in the two though and ask if Zack Snyder made the right call when casting Eisenberg and creating this version of Luthor.

Would Lex Luthor have been much more intriguing with him being the calm and confident man we are used to seeing, who allows his obsession with Superman to cloud his judgement? I think that obviously Luthor is a flawed individual with mental health issues in the comics as well, but I think it would have been nice to see Luthor evolve into that kind of character, and peel the layers of the a man with father issues and a inferiority complex.

As I said above though, I do not dislike Snyder and Eisenberg's take on Lex Luthor, I just think that it could have been handled better. It felt rushed and I would have liked a little more character development.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor

Here comes my main criticism with the character though...Jesse Eisenberg himself.

My main problem was I did not see Eisenberg become Lex Luthor, I only saw Jesse Eisenberg playing Luthor. To explain, I think that this version of Lex Luthor played too much into what we are already used to seeing with Jesse Eisenberg. He always plays more spastic and awkward roles that require the same mannerisms that he displayed as Lex Luthor.

During the movie I just felt like I was watching the usual Jesse Eisenberg performance. It was like Columbus from Zombieland decided to grow his hair out and start hating Superman.

It wasn't like watching Ben Affleck become Bruce Wayne and Batman. Ben Affleck broke away from his norm and put together a spectacular performance that arguably surpassed any of his predecessors. I did not get that same feeling from Eisenberg.

I don't think Eisenberg has the acting potential to truly transform into a character and make it his own. So while I did not mind this take on Luthor, I do not think Zack Snyder picked the right man for the job.

Hopefully we see Lex Luthor's character develop as the DCEU continues, and maybe we see Jesse Eisenberg grow into the character and start to make it his own.


About the Creator

Tyler S. Callaway

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