Are You Wrong about Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor?
Updated: Jul 22, 2021
(By Ben Wan)
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is the most controversial version of the character. Critics said he was playing more of a Riddler or Joker type while Snyder fans say that he was a fresh new take on the character, with influence from Superman: Birthright. We dive into all the different comic book inspirations for the character, debate how much of Superman Birthright is in the characterization, and discuss that if Eisenberg’s Lex is faithful, why did he get the reception he got? Welcome to part one of a special trilogy we call- SuperVILLAIN Stuff You Should Know- covering three major villains of the DC/Snyderverse. Stay tuned to find out who's next. CHAPTERS: 0:04 Matt Herring GoFund Me Bumper Please donate what you can to our friend and fan of the podcast Matt Herring, who is battling Stage 4 colon cancer. Click here for Matt Herring's GoFundMe 1:45 “Lex & Aquaman's Bond" Sketch with Zack as Lex and Vulko, Andrew as Aquaman, and Ben as the Captain The opening sketch is another sequel to our previous sketches where Lex would leave a jar of piss and Aquaman, who’d be obsessed with shitting in the ocean. The first Lex episode with the jar of pee was in this BvS episode.
And the first Aquaman sketch was in this Justice League episode.
6:30 Episode Introduction to SuperVILLAIN Stuff You Should Know To promote our temporary name change, Zachary Brown came up with these logos for us that will be used for the promo art:
We covered our opinions on Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in our extensive four-part deep dive into Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice where we pit Snyder’s creative choices against the critics and went into which side we agreed with.
10:22 Action Comics #23- The First Luthor Here’s an image of the original Luthor in his first appearance in1940, with the red hair and red robes, drawn by co-creator Joe Shuster:
18:05 How Luthor Became Bald in the Comics We theorized the possibility that artist Leo Nowak confused Luthor for any of the following bald characters when he made Luthor bald in the Superman comic strips: Luthor’s bald henchmen in Action Comics #23:
Superman’s other bald mad scientist supervillain, The Ultra-Humanite:
Or, as we theorized in our coverage of the radio series, The Yellow Mask:
If you missed our coverage of the radio show, here it is, where we pointed out that the Yellow Mask and Gene Hackman’s Luthor both end up being responsible for breaking a dam and nearly flooding a town until Superman intervenes, though this was likely drawing from the same comic Action Comics No. 5, “Superman and the Dam”:
19:53 The Silver Age: How Superboy Made Luthor Bald Here’s Adventure Comics No. 271 in question, where Superboy is responsible for Lex’s hair loss:
Super Friends presented the origin in this episode “History of Doom”
We compared the shaving of Lex’s head in Batman V Superman to a similar beat of Lionel Luthor in Smallville years earlier in the Season 3 finale “Covenant,” with both men getting their heads shaved in prison, but still being somewhat victorious in taking care of their enemies outside:
28:52 Lex & The Legion of Doom/The Injustice League We talked about how Lex was supposed to bring together the Injustice League/The Legion of Doom in the plans for Justice League 2 in our dive into Snyder’s sequel plans:
According to a recent discussion with fans, Snyder revealed that Lex Luthor’s intended arc was for him to sacrifice himself in the battle against Darkseid in Justice League 3.
31:51 CEO of LexCorp: The Post-Crisis Lex Here’s the Man of Steel version of Lex from John Byrne, who had red hair but was naturally balding:
As mentioned, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman not only was the first live action adaptation of this corrupt CEO version of Lex Luthor, but it also predated Batman V Superman in having Lex learn that Superman is Clark Kent. Here’s the scene we referenced of Lex Luthor threatening Clark’s parents in Lois and Clark.
34:05 The Red Haired Lex Luthor Jr. in the Comics Here’s the long haired Lex Luthor II who was running LexCorp when Doomsday killed Superman in the Post-Crisis comics (but was, in reality, the real Lex Luthor with his mind inside the body of a clone):
We did a two-parter on the Death and Return of Superman here:
You can hear William Hootkins’s take on the “Australian” Lex Luthor II here (still the only actor to portray this take on Lex):
40:32 Did Eisenberg's Lex Kill His Own Father? In a Vero comment, Zack Snyder agreed with the fan theory that Eisenberg’s Lex killed his father, Lex Snr: We feel the same way about Lex taking out his dad Here’s a comparison of The Unauthorized Biography of Lex Luthor (1989) with The Art of the Deal (1987) that we mentioned on the podcast. The comic introduced the idea that Lex killed his own parents, which has carried over into other versions.
Lex killed his father in Smallville in the Season 7 episode “Descent” as shown in this scene.
45:58 Break: No More Whoppers Promo, BarkBox Promo, and "Eradicator vs. Booster Gold" Patreon Sketch with Andrew as Booster Gold and Ben as The Eradicator This is a promo for another podcast in the Greenlit Podcast Network, No More Whoppers, which you can find here. Check out our link for Barkbox here. You can join our $5 Patreon here. The Eradicator is a character we covered in our discussion on The Death and Return of Superman, with the episodes shared earlier in these notes. Both he and Booster Gold, who also featured in that storyline, are known for wearing yellow visors.
50:13 Is Eisenberg's Lex the Birthright Lex? As discussed, many Snyder fans have compared the look of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor to the one in Superman Birthright, as written by Mark Waid with pencils by Leinil Francis Yu and inks by Gerry Alanguilan.
Courtesy of Reddit
Birthright writer Mark Waid is not a fan of the Snyder Superman films, as we brought up in our final part of Man of Steel coverage:
Mark Waid on Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor: You mean Lenny Luthor? Not a fan. (Lenny Luthor is a reference to Jon Cryer’s character as Lex’s idiotic nephew in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) And when asked about the similarities between Eisenberg’s Luthor to the one in Birthright: I can't see that. At all. 1:01:31 The Influence of Azzarello and Bermejo's Luthor: Man of Steel We talked about Lee Bermejo’s art of Joker and Two-Face for the Nolanverse, with a Joker that foreshadows Heath Ledger’s and a Two-Face based on Denzel Washington:
1:10:52 The Other Time Lex Killed Mercy Lex previously killed Mercy in Superman: Doomsday to cover up his crimes:
1:11:46 Lex Teaming Up with Aliens in the New 52 1:13:04 How We Could've Gotten Jesse Eisenberg as Jimmy Olsen and...Adam Driver as Lex?! We reference our discussion on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, where we revealed that Eisenberg was originally considered for Jimmy Olsen.
We also discussed the possible candidates for Lex Luthor in our Patreon episode on the unused BvS episodes, including Adam Driver. 1:13:54 Influences on Eisenberg's Lex Luthor: The Eisenberg-Max Landis Connection Max Landis is referred to as the inspiration for Jesse Eisenberg’s performance. Landis commented on this earlier this year in a video about the Snyder Cut:
Here’s also his original “Regarding Clark” video that criticized the destruction of Man of Steel, a video that Landis expresses regret making in the previous video:
Here’s his Batman V Superman reaction video that Andrew references where Landis criticizes the infamous jar of piss:
1:19:29 Lex Luthor's Theme from BvS This video from duckmilkprod points out the similarity between Lex’s theme song and Mozart’s Requiem:
This video also notes the similarities between Lex’s theme and Superman’s:
1:20:53 Lex's Origin and Motivations in Batman V Superman Geoff Johns points out that this movie is very much Lex’s origin in this featurette on Batman V Superman.
This video from Super Jesus Jackson brings up a fascinating version of Lex’s motivation that we discussed this week:
1:27:03 Lex's Overcomplicated Plan Ben’s recap of Lex Luthor’s BvS plan is a callback to the same moment in our Batman V Superman coverage here:
1:31:21 How Is Eisenberg's Reimagining of Lex Different from How Heath Ledger Reimagined Joker in The Dark Knight? 1:42:16 Final Thoughts We reference Chris Terrio’s interview about the nightmare of working behind the scenes of the DC films. The fan edit that Andrew refers to with Bryan Cranston as Lex is this fan trailer here:
1:48:08 Closing: Fan Comments and Social Media Promotion Our tie-in Patreon episode for the $5 tier will cover more of Reign of the Supermen arc, outside of what we covered in the main show, as well as Lex Luthor II:
SuperVillain Stuff You Should Know takes over the Patreon as we deliver exciting news about our show to our patrons before our regular listeners find out. Then we go into the little known facts about Superman villains, including that time Lex Luthor was sleeping with Supergirl, how the first version of the Eradicator was actually in The Flash, and the weird connection that Cyborg Superman has to Wonder Woman 1984 (along with that one time he was played by Elijah Wood). Check out the episode and join our $5 Patreon today. THANKS TO OUR GUEST: ZacharyJacksonBrownArt (who also did the thumbnail) IG: @zacharyjacksonbrownart https://www.zacharyjacksonbrownart.com/ Please record us a “bumper” saying “You’re listening to Superhero Stuff You Should Know” and send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org Also to any animators- we’d love to see our sketches animated. Please include #SuperheroStuffYouShould Know IN the video Become a part of the Shasta Army on our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/m/superherostuffpod SuperHouse on iTunes: https://apple.co/3ctz4lN Please leave us a review in iTunes! SuperHouse on Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2yq3Kpo INSTAGRAM: @superherostuffpod TWITTER: Twitter.com/SuperhousePod FACEBOOK: Facebook.com/SuperHousePod Please join our Facebook group where you can interact with us and other fans! YOUTUBE: YouTube.com/c/SuperHousePodcast Please email us at: SuperHousePodcast@gmail.com ANDREW’S CHANNEL/WEBSITE: IG: ThunderWolfDrew Twitter: ThunderWolfDrew YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/thunderwolflives Website: www.thunderwolflives.com/ BEN'S CHANNEL/WEBSITE: IG: BenWanWriter My Cat’s IG: AlfiePennyworthCat Earl E. Bird- upcoming children’s comic: http://earl-e-bird.com YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6nG7A354pour2CUw0co3Ug Website: http://www.benwanwriter.com SUPERHOUSE MERCH: http://superhousepod.redbubble.com/ Teepublic Threadless