Jesse Eisenberg will square off against Superman as billionaire Lex Luthor in Man of Steel 2. Warner also announced that Jeremy Irons will fill the role of Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth. They join a cast that includes Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, and Gal Gadot as Diana/Wonder Woman. Production for Man of Steel 2 is still scheduled for Spring 2014.
Interestingly, Eisenberg and Cavill are both 30 years old, going against a trend established by previous incarnations of Superman, which featured Luthor as an older business tycoon. It seems highly unlikely that they would try to age-up Eisenberg with makeup given both his previous body of work and the quantity of mature actors around Hollywood. Eisenberg has a habit of playing younger than he is, and previously portrayed real-life billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, one of the founders of Facebook, in The Social Network. While his performance had little in common with the attitude most might associate with Lex Luthor, producer Christopher Nolan never shied away from alternate interpretations of iconic characters in The Dark Knight Trilogy. Heath Ledger may not have had the Joker’s traditional acid-induced permanent smile, but audiences loved his performance regardless.
Jeremy Irons casting as Alfred implies that Bruce Wayne’s mentor will figure prominently in the story. Said director Zack Snyder, Alfred is “an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman.” Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio is still on board as the writer working from David S. Goyer’s original screenplay. Man of Steel 2 will reach theaters on May 6, 2016.