Since its announcement, Man of Steel 2 a.k.a Batman vs Superman, has had a wave of rumours and legitimate news follow in its wake. Aside from the multitude of sites that peddled supposedly confirmed news, forums exploded with terrible fan castings. Suggestions such as Dane Cook as Batman, to Gina Carano as Wonder Woman initially infuriated me, but I learned to ignore such suggestions since it was obvious the crew behind Man of Steel would have more sense that the hordes flocking to IMDB. Apparently I was wrong.
When Henry Cavill was cast as Superman, I was initially skeptical. I took his terrible performance in Immortals into consideration and I was sure we would get a repeat. Instead, Cavill was surprisingly good in the role, embodying the character well with his physique and the sense of humility, compassion and righteousness that he exuded on screen. Discovering that I was wrong about Cavill made me more open to other decisions that the crew behind Man of Steel made. When Ben Afleck was cast as Batman I was…surprised. His acting career had been a joke for a while, but then he recouped as a director and an actor in his own films. His performance in The Town showed that he is talented, although his Boston accent in that film has been the butt of many jokes. I decided to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt, if Cavill can greatly improve, surely Afleck can too.
When Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman, my mind went to her only performances I saw on screen. As Gisele Yashar, Gadot barely had any lines or any character development. Of course this wasn’t surprising but I had to wonder how that performance was enough to convince executives that she could portray one of the (if not the most) popular female superhero of all time. Gadot’s weight was also an issue, but since she is working with the same team that transformed Cavill, I figured she’d be able to at least look the part when the time comes.
Then Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Lex Luthor, and now I can no longer put blind faith that this film will work out. Lex Luthor is one of Superman’s biggest foes, in terms of their history and the threat he poses. Some of the films have overused him and painted him as a feeble old man who needs kryptonite to be of any danger to Superman. However, Lex Luthor is supposed to be cunning, charismatic and deadly individual able to effectively manipulate others for his goals. Whether Lex Luthor attacks the ones closest to Superman or orchestrates with powerful super villains, he is always a great threat.
Numerous people have compared the backlash Eisenberg is receiving to the same backlash Heath Ledger received. They then point to the spectacular performance Heath Ledger was able to deliver. Eisenberg is a great actor in my opinion, and I want him to deliver. However, I believe that people need to stop pointing to the example of Heath Ledger. Yes, there is always the possibility that we are pleasantly shocked by a performance again. My problem is that the supporters act as if such a situation is a common occurrence. What happened with Ledger should be seen as an exception to the rule, where it can happen but is not guaranteed or even likely.
The role of the Joker allowed Ledger to drastically change his physical appearance, making it somewhat easier to lose himself in the character. I am not saying that the fact that he wore makeup and hair dye for the role makes his performance easy to recreate, or makes it less worthy of praise. The physical appearance was only a small facet of the character. For Lex Luthor, Eisenberg will be bald and we will have to see him as a formidable threat. Although Eisenberg is 30, he looks younger, and unless they are chronicling the origins of Lexcorp I believe an actor who looks older should have been selected. Luthor is often depicted as older than Superman, with a reputation forged by decades as a powerhouse in the business arena. In 2016, we will see the actor well known for playing geeky characters as one of Superman’s biggest foes. Lex Luthor is intelligent, but intelligent and geeky are not always the same. Batman is also highly intelligent, but that does not mean Jesse Eisenberg can play the character.
This brings me to another point: Portraying a character is not only about being a good actor. Sometimes an actor’s age, appearance, voice etc can affect the range of roles they can effectively play. Michael Fassbender is my favourite actor and I think there are numerous roles he can pull off, but there are some I do not think he would be suited for. Hypothetically, if Wolverine was being introduced in the next X Men film, Fassbender would not be one of my choices. This is not because he is a bad actor, but because I don’t believe he has the right look for the character. Obviously Jackman is too tall for the role (I do not mind personally) but aside from that his performance as the character has been well received by critics and audiences alike for embodying the character physically and emotionally.
We still have until 2016 before we see Eisenberg on screen and perhaps we will see Eisenberg’s Luthor through advertisements in 2015 or early 2016. Although I still hope for the best, an objective look at the facts can show that this is a role meant for another actor.