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Monday, February 3, 2014

Guest Editorial: Batman Adaptations Roll On With Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor

[The following post is a guest editorial from Danny Webb.  I am happy to try and post new types of entries on this site, so I figured why not proceed with a bit of news-related business for a change, given that this opportunity presented itself.  My own opinions may or may not be represented here, but please enjoy the post regardless.]

If ever a modern film franchise was untouchably perfect, it was Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight franchise. That's not to say there weren't flaws here and there in the films, but the general depth and scope of the series is unmatched in the superhero, or even action/adventure genre in the past decade or two. So, naturally, the whole entertainment industry seems to be plugging ahead with as many spin-offs, adaptations, and new takes as it can muster.

In television, Batman will soon be hitting our home screens. According to Daily Finance, Fox has reportedly purchased the rights to essentially design whatever sort of Caped Crusader saga they please. The show in the works, Gotham, is expected to depict the early life of a young Bruce Wayne only just beginning to become Batman, and really it sounds as if it will be nothing like the recent (and forthcoming) films defining the modern take on Batman.

In gaming, Batman adaptations seem to be popping up more quickly than anyone can keep track of, and it's not just in the popular Arkham series for major consoles. Online gaming site Betfair brought a Batman theme to a slot machine game in its arcade section, which offers players the chance to enjoy the iconic character even as they gamble real money. In addition to that, various games starring Bruce Wayne and his masked alter-ego have been released on mobile app platforms in the past few years. 

Along with casino gaming, console adventures, and television adaptations, there will always be new comics and animated takes on the popular character. But really, it's the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film (not the real title, but a popular description in the meantime) film—a sequel to the underwhelming Man Of Steel—that has Batman and film fanatics alike buzzing.

Just a few months ago, it was the decision by Warner Bros, director Zack Snyder and his team to hire Ben Affleck as Batman that set the Internet buzzing, but gradually people seemed to calm down, and a few have even begun to concede that Affleck may not be a bad choice. And then, just as the dust seemed to be settling, news broke in late January that Jesse Eisenberg had been cast as Lex Luthor.

Yes, the skinny, awkward, teenage-looking Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg, in a role that not too long ago was rumored to be going to the great Bryan Cranston, and which in the past has belonged to the likes of Kevin Spacey and Gene Hackman.

No disrespect to Eisenberg's skill as an actor; he's very capable, and maybe (hopefully) he'll shock us all and bring some intrigue to the film. But where Ben Affleck was a bold choice that took some getting used to, Eisenberg seems nothing short of miscast. He's too weak, too nerdy, and no level of clever zingers given to him in the script can possibly result in his actually being intimidating.

If there's a silver lining here, it's that perhaps they are going for a character villain, rather than one more giant muscle for a superhero to defeat. The Avengers series, and those of its individual characters, are growing a bit tired simply because the villains are too big, strong and repetitive, and even in Man Of Steel Zod was, at the end of the day, just a muscle. Perhaps the Eisenberg casting represents a deeper effort on the part of the studio. But for now, it's just one more reason to be disappointed at the over-extension of the Batman adaptations.


This is a guest post by Danny Webb, a self-certified film buff. When he isn't sitting in a theater, you can find him in cyberspace destroying aliens on Halo.

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