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A Charlie Bielinski Pop-Ed: Thoughts on Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and the 'Gotham' TV Series

In the past few weeks DC has released some information and casting choices concerning their biggest two upcoming projects, Gotham (the pre-Batman James Gordon television show) and the Man of Steel sequel (choose whichever Internet domain has been purchased by DC as a title). I wrote about these two projects back in December, and now that we know a bit more about them, I thought it would be time to revisit the topic.

If we thought that the backlash against Batfleck was huge it seemed pretty tame when it was announced that Jesse Eisenberg would be playing Superman’s most famous nemesis, Lex Luthor. My favorite comments and memes centered around the idea that DC was so out of touch with reality they thought that Eisenberg was somehow the real life embodiment of Heisenberg from Breaking Bad. “Eisenberg? We want Heisenberg?” chants could almost be heard coming from computer screens and hard drives because the desire to have Bryan Cranston play Luthor was so intense from both die-hard and casual fans. Cranston seemed a perfect fit for how Lex Luthor has always been portrayed onscreen in live action and animation, not just because of his bald head but also because of the attitude he often displayed as Walter White. When I read the news I didn’t necessarily get as upset as most fans, but rather just wondered how the now-delayed upcoming sequel would portray Luthor because in most incarnations Luthor is much older than Superman. With the exception of Smallville, in which the two characters are about the same age, every single Lex Luthor interpretation has had the character aged around 15 to 20 years older than Superman. In Smallville, this worked and was interesting because the entire story and series was built around the idea that the two characters knew each other. In fact, Clark had even saved Lex from downing (Lex returns the favor later in the pilot episode) and developed a friendship with him.

A few days ago Latino-Review reported information that they were given about the new Luthor and his place in the story. This same scoop also explains how Bruce Wayne would be connected and logically fit into the universe that Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer have created. Even though they say it early on in their article I will repeat it here: This is based on the current script and there is a lot of time between now and the release of the film.

*Spoiler Alert* 

According to a scoop at Latino-Review, the Lex Luthor the sequel is going for sounds much like an amalgamation of Tony Stark and Marlo Stanfield. If the Marlo Stanfield reference is unfamiliar to you, do yourself a favor and watch The Wire. Marlo is a bad guy, not a bad guy in the currently popular anti-hero sense but an actual bad guy who is ruthless and mean tempered. To bring in a real life reference and not one from pop culture, this Luthor appears to be Mark Zuckerberg (who Eisenberg has already played in The Social Network) if he had been a leader of the Crips or the Bloods before he founded Facebook.

Lexcorp and Wayne Industries would naturally be competing companies, but in the interest of rebuilding Gotham after the destruction of the city during the Zod-Superman battle Bruce arrives in Metropolis to offer his help. This is a very logical reason for the inclusion of Bruce Wayne and will then lead to Ben Affleck’s turn to suit up in the cowl (his friends Matt Damon and Kevin Smith say he looks great in costume).

*End Spoilers* 

For those that didn’t read the spoilers and haven’t seen the Latino-Review article, all I will say is that after reading what the current plan is I am completely onboard. I’m still not sure how Wonder Woman fits in to all of this, and I also think that if other heroes already exist in this universe they have to sufficiently explain why they didn’t show up when Zod was invading.

The other big news regarding DC came on Saturday and that news was the casting of 35-year-old Ben McKenzie as Detective Jim Gordon in Gotham, the new series coming to Fox. Other than knowing that Bruce Wayne will be around 12 years old and that some of the classic Batman villains will appear, this is all we have really heard about the series. I don’t know much about McKenzie’s previous work other than that he was in both The OC and Southland. I don’t believe he will be an actor familiar to much of the audience that will watch Gotham, and that is good. For me at least, although I think there are many like me, there will be no real preconceived notions as to how his version of Gordon will look and sound, and that is some good news because it sounds like this series will be creating its own continuity with the established characters.

The creators also answered some of the earlier questions that many others and I had regarding the series when it was announced. Apparently we will be seeing younger versions of many of the famous Batman villains. Specifically Kevin Reilly referenced The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin and Catwoman as familiar characters that will appear in the series at some point. Even though I know that rebooting storylines and characters has worked for many franchises lately, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and JJ Abrams' Star Trek being two prime examples, I’m still not getting excited for this one. Now that we know the villains will be included, it solidifies my question from before as the one that the series must deal with in a convincing manner. That question is how does Gordon, a man with no powers or exceptional abilities, protect Gotham from these villains which then leads to another question about why Batman would even be needed if Gordon and the Gotham City police can do the job. If they can’t it looks like it will be a difficult 10 years (give or take a couple) for the citizens before Batman shows up. Look, I know fictional Gotham existed before Batman but I don’t think I really care about seeing what it actually looks like on screen.
A Charlie Bielinski Pop-Ed: Thoughts on Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and the 'Gotham' TV Series Reviewed by Charlie Bielinski on 2/10/2014 Rating: 5

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