Here's 7 Actors Who Would Be Great as Lex Luthor in 'Man of Steel 2'

August 12, 2013

Lex Luthor

Names have already surfaced for some potential casting choices to play an older, veteran Batman in the gestating Man of Steel 2 at Warner Bros. Josh Brolin is among some of the possibilities, but it's still early days. There's also one other pivotal role that's in question, and that's Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor. The villain is rumored to be in the sequel, and last week Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Green Lantern) and Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") were said to be in the running. But again, those are just rumors, and we've thought of some actors who might fit the part, some of them you won't expect. Read on!

While Strong and Cranston are both fine actors, their more prominent roles have already seen them as villainous, intimidating characters somewhat similar to Luthor. Also, it seems a little too easy to pick those actors since audiences are accustomed to seeing them both as bald on the big and small screen. So without further adieu, here are seven talented actors who we think might make Lex Luthor a hell of a villain:

Jason Clarke
Jason Clarke

This is probably my favorite choice for the role, if only because Clarke is on the verge of becoming a huge star. After a strong performance in Zero Dark Thirty and a forthcoming lead role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Clark is pretty busy. The actor has the thriller Child 44, the mountain climbing drama Everest and Stephen Gaghan's Candy Store on the way as well. But following a villainous turn in White House Down (that apparently a lot of people didn't see after looking at the box office numbers), maybe this would be a better opportunity for the bad guy role. After all, Clarke was pretty damn intimidating as Wysocki in "The Chicago Code" on Fox, so we know he can shake a stick at Superman.

Michael Stuhlbarg
Michael Stuhlbarg

Though his more famous turns in films like Men in Black 3, Lincoln, Hugo and A Serious Man don't really give an indicator that Stuhlbarg would be a force to be reckoned with as a comic book villain, his work in "Boardwalk Empire" certainly shows he has a menacing side. Man of Steel villain Michael Shannon also came from the HBO crime drama series, so why not draw from that impressive pool of actors again? Stuhlbarg has a gift of powerful performances that are also subtle, and without the melodrama that sometimes floods comic book villains.

Matt Damon
Matt Damon

After going bald for Elysium and delivering one of his career defining turns as Jason Bourne in film series that started with The Bourne Identity, maybe it's time for Damon to play a dark figure again for the first time since The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999. Damon might not be up for shaving his head again so soon, but taking an A-list start and putting him in a role like this would be pretty damn great. The only hindrance might be Damon's desire to keep writing and directing, and Warner Bros. would likely want to lock Damon down for multiple films, and that could prove to be pretty expensive.

Matthew Rhys
Matthew Rhys

Behind Jason Clarke, this might be my second favorite choice for the role of Lex Luthor. Unless you watched "Brothers & Sisters" or caught the first season of "The Americans" on FX earlier this year, you might not be familiar with Rhys at all. But his work on the latter TV series is full of great potential for a comic book villain, especially in the grittier and mostly grounded world that director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer have created for such an out of this world superhero. Rhys is quiet, stoic even, but has a single glare is full of contempt and mystery, making him a great Lex Luthor.

Billy Zane
Billy Zane

Now before you shake your head in furl your brow in confusion or skepticism, remember how easy it was to hate Zane because of his smarmy, douchebag performance in Titanic. Take that into account with his underrated skill as a campy comic book hero in The Phantom, and this is a guy who can pull of Lex Luthor quite well, in my opinion. Though I'd be worried that Zane might push the role over the top a bit and thus not fit with the world created in Man of Steel, there's just something about his screen presence that gives me faith he can pull it off.

Michael C. Hall
Michael C. Hall

After eight seasons as the serial killer of serial killers, Hall will be looking for a return to the big screen (audiences will see him in Kill Your Darlings later this year), and taking on an iconic role like this might be just what the doctor ordered. After all, though Hall's turn in "Dexter" isn't exactly a ad guy role, and there's plenty of evidence that he has the dramatic chops to face off against someone like Superman. There's even a hint of his potential turn as Luthor with his bit part in the forgettable sci-fi action thriller Gamer with Gerard Butler, and even his threats sounds dulcet in their execution, making them all the more intimidating.

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor

That's right, I've decided to include a prominent black actor in the mix for a villain role that has been consistently depicted as white and thus played by several white actors. But it's 2013, and if Snyder has changed up the world of Superman to where Lois Lane knows Clark Kent is Superman, Laurence Fishburne is playing Perry White anyway, and Superman has killed on the big screen for the first time ever, then a black Lex Luthor doesn't seem all that crazy. Ejiorfor has been mostly seen on the big screen as a supporting actor in films like Love Actually, Children of Men, American Gangster and 2012, but his lead performance in the forthcoming 12 Years a Slave looks Oscar worthy, and this would be one hell of a follow up for an actor who has deserved a big breakthrough role for a long time now. As long as people don't shallowly cling to the idea of Lex Luthor being white, Ejiofor would be a hell of a pick.

So there you have it. We're not sure what direction Zack Snyder wants to go with Lex Luthor, but all of these names would fit the bill rather spectacularly in the sequel, and it would be great to keep them around in a franchise role like this, especially if Luthor is a prominent bad guy in a future where Justice League might become a reality. With production on Man of Steel 2 slated to begin early next year for a release in the summer of 2015, you can bet Warner Brothers will likely have someone lined up for the role of Superman's nemesis before the end of the year. Who would you want to play Lex Luthor in Man of Steel 2?

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  • Rex
    Corey Stoll is my choice.
  • Mark Strong would be perfect.
    • Josh
      Mark Strong IS Lex Luthor.
    • si1ver
      He'd be fantastic. I'd also love to see him as Dr. Doom and I will actually be pissed if he never plays a Sith.
    • Guy who comments on things
      Then they can't use Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern in Justice League for sure.
  • Morvidus
    Chiwetel Ejiofor. You failed to mention his performance in Serenity!
    • Jon Odishaw
      Wonderful performance. Very Lex Luther in its cold, calculated precision.
      • conradthegreat
        It's true
    • OfficialJab
      That whole film is the perfect demo to send the MoS casting people.
  • smathews
    Chiwetel Ejiofor is a good one. I would say Idris Elba, but then he'd be a better Bruce Wayne/Batman.
  • Yahoo!!!
    Karen Gillian, no I'm dead serious.
  • Guy who comments on things
    Michael C Hall is the man for the job.
    • Moutchy
      Michael C Hall would be awesome!
  • Rain Spider
    You'd have a better chance at getting George clooney for this Role than Matt Damon. I like Billy Zane for the role. The guy is the perfect choice. It's a shame he doesn't get very many big time gigs anymore. He was born to play lex Luther.
    • bart
  • tankatemysandwiches
  • I've been pulling for Chiwetel Ejiofor too. But if you're going for 'get people into the theater' *and* racial progress, you can't do much better than Dwayne The Rock Johnson as Lex Luthor. If WB is going for a name and not just a known actor who happens to be bald in their most famous roles, Johnson is the best play. But in terms of who the best actor is, well if you're willing to pull a Jared Harris again, go with Ejiofor.
  • Simon
    Giancarlo Esposito is the only option. Giancarlo.Fucking.Esposito.
    • DanHibiki
      Pierce's half brother?
      • Cody W
        ^ Gus fring
    • TurboTimmy
      Gustavo FTW!
  • dawko
    Matt Damon? Are you out of your mind? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
  • Jose
    You know the last part where you said Supeman killed on the big screen for the first time, He killed Zod and the other two in the fortress of solitude. So when people say Superman doesn't kill, they are wrong. He already did on the big screen over 30 years ago.
    • Ayotunde Afolabi
      He's killed MANY times in the comics... some villains more than once haha
  • Quynh Truong
    Mark Strong all the way
  • Chris
    "But it's 2013..." and people have probably already forgotten that Daredevil (as terrible as the movie was) did the same thing a decade earlier.
  • leinergroove
    Sorry to say but all seven are AWFUL options.
    • conradthegreat
      Michael Stuhlbarg could own this role
  • derpface
    lex luther is not black... here we go again
    • Guest
      His name is also not Lex Luther so there's that...
  • ekoville
  • toksin
    Can we stop this superhero crap and make real movies again?
    • javier
      you are saying that on the WRONG site! i agree with you...but i don't think you'll get much support on here.
    • Guy who comments on things
      I wasn't aware these weren't real movies, nor was I aware that everyone who'd previously made "real" movies have some how stopped/died/ceased to be since the increase in superhero movie production. What is a real movie to you? There are plenty of non -superhero movies being released, were as, in the space of a year, now, at the height of the superhero movie trends popularity, there are about... four or five superhero movies? Are they destroying movies? Please tell me how so.
  • Ethan, I'm surprised you all haven't reported on the rumored Orlando Bloom as Batman/Bruce Wayne...
    • Hah hah hah... πŸ˜‰ Wait is this real? Is Bloom really rumored? I like the picks he made for Luthor here! And it could be anyone, although I'd be happy if Mark Strong got the role, too.
      • Yeah. It's real, as of yesterday. Several sources, but none are too convincing. We'll see!
        • In all honesty, we tend not to report on many rumors. Too many of them flying around. If we feel it might be true, or will become true, we'll post about it (like the Vin Diesel / Groot story this morning) but otherwise it's just not worth posting rumors when they're unfounded a majority of the time. But we're always keeping an eye out for news.
          • Part of the reason I didn't email you a submission. Lots of sites reporting and I didn't recognize them as credible.
          • David Banner
            *cough* Mentioning Latino Review every week does not count on spreading rumors?*cough* πŸ˜‰
      • VAharleywitch
        I just heard this rumor, and about puked. I like Orlando, but as Batman? Hell to the no.
  • ikkf
    Save Michael C. Hall for Daredevil Born Again. He was born to play that role!
  • batsupe
    Not sure about this list, I think my first choice is Mark Strong and at a close second would be Bryan Cranston. Though I'm not against a black actor taking over the role, in fact if that were the case then my first choice would be Chiwetel Ejiofor. He is an awesome actor in movies like Serenity, Red Belt, and Inside Man, none of which were mentioned. As far as this list goes he would be my first choice. Matt Damon is over rated as an actor in my opinion, Michael C Hall is awesome in Dexter but he just doesn't fit the bill for me as Lex. Billy Zane would be my second choice if I had to go off this list he would definitely bring something interesting to the role. And I don't think the other actors listed have enough of an appeal to bring people in.
  • Dresden
    Michaael C. Hall I think would overshadow too much. Plus I'm holding out for him as Matt Murdock, not that he can't potentially be both Lex and Daredevil, just saying.
    • Blake Sturchio
      Is this actually a rumor for Hall and Daredevil? Second post I've seen about this.
      • Dresden
        It's a rumor, pretty sure started by fans. Maybe not a rumor, more of a wish.
  • Nicholas Robinson
    Honestly, all of your choices are amazing (save Billy Zane not too sure about that one lol) but my top two choices for Lex would be Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling. Michael Fassbender has already shown in his acting chops in many of his films but I think his performance as David in Prometheus was as Luthor as it gets. with maybe just a little tweaking. His polite, yet sinister demeanor and doing whatever it takes to get the job done in that movie was perfect. Gosling on the other hand while (to my memory) not having played a purely evil character, could maybe take a slightly new approach to the character. In the Superman mythos, Lex has always been a character who was groomed by his father to be ruthless and take over the company but what if he actually was once a trust fund kid, rich pretty boy who after some transformation becoms the lex luthor we all know and "love". (Hell, maybe we won't even have to shave his head). Well that's my two cents, I'll sit here and wait for the DC fanboys to crush this post lol
  • Mark Strong is Lex Luthor in my strongest opinion. He has this booming presense to him and seems like the perfect fit, other considerations, obviously Bryan Cranston should be tossed in the mix
  • MARZ76
    just cast billy zane an chiwetel them two are the best ones to cast. dexter maybe a 3rd pick
  • Al
    Some of these are pretty cool, Jason Clarke is my fave, would like to see Michael C Hall in Daredevil rather. But I think there is only one choice for Lex, maybe its too obvious which is why its not mentioned here, but its got to be Leonardo DiCaprio!! Got to be!
    • Blake Sturchio
      Michael C. Hall as Daredevil could be awesome. It would be nice to see him in a leading role in a big movie after Dexter finishes up.
  • Julian
    I don't know why but I'd love to see Bryan Cranston play Luthor. He's just such an amazing actor and would add so much to the film.
  • David Banner
    Why does Luthor have to be so young? How about Amitabh Bachchan? He's starred in 188 movies, I'm sure he can act. Seems like when the comicbook character change happens, it's only white-->black, never any other ethnicity. Why can't Luthor be Chinese? Luthor has been around for quite some time before Sup' shows up, Luthor could be well in his 50ies. This ain't Smallville.
  • RaziΓ«l Makenshi
    "But it's 2013, and if Snyder has changed up the world of Superman to where Lois Lane knows Clark Kent is Superman, Laurence Fishburne is playing Perry White anyway, and Superman has killed on the big screen for the first time ever, then a black Lex Luthor doesn't seem all that crazy." these are supposed to be valid reasons? why not have an Asian woman to play aLEXia luthor?
  • YouKnowImRight
    If a white actor played a black character could we also use "it's 2013" as an excuse? Short answer: no. Long answer: God no, because if a black person plays a white character we have to be okay with it or else we're racist, but if a white actor plays a black character then there'd be a riot on the streets.
    • jah p
      Shut the hell up! you know nothing!
    • avconsumer2
      omg - white Shaft with Jason Statham... GO!!!
      • Dane Beasley
        I'm black and I would love to see that, accent and all!
        • onlinesavant
          Liz Taylor as "Cleopatra". How soon white bigots forget their...bigotry.
        • avconsumer2
          lol - wow... Shaft with cockney English accent. It's so crazy it might just work. Will PM you if I end up @ MGM corporate with a screenplay!! πŸ˜‰
    • ratchetrandy
      Im 4 months late but you are an idiot. 1. Black characters like Black Panther are inherently black. 2. there are more than enough white male roles to go around. Stop being a bitch thinking others can't enjoy in the fun.
  • Filadog
    "YouKnowImRight" is....well...right. Exactly right. Whites are expected to make every accommodation for the black community but it doesn't go both ways.
  • avconsumer2
    Tom Hardy. You're welcome.
    After playing Riddick, Vin Diesel could easily pull off Luthor. Same menacing, quietness of speech. He's easily a dark character. Low, strong voice.
    • VAharleywitch
      Much as I love Vin, "deep thinker" isn't what really comes to mind, acting-wise (he's quite astute in real life, from what I've read & a con-working friend has said). Of the list, Michael C Hall would be my top pick. Or the gent that plays Reese on "Person of Interest"
    • avconsumer2
      lol - nah... I'd be thinking the whole move that Lex could just kick Sup's ass, regardless of powers.
  • Adam Unger
    So many good choices here. Is there supposed to be any comedy in Lex or purely dark and menacing? Same age as Clark or older? Bald for sure? I like the off kilter choices like Giamatti as Rhino is cool. I'm probably crazy but I see Vince McMahon being an epic Luthor. But Zane is made for the role, no doubt.
  • jah p
    My vote for Lex Luthor would be Woody Harrelson, Dylan McDermott, Boris Khojoe, Ken Watanbe, Javier Bardiem, and Ben Foster.
  • billy
    How about Aaron Eckhart? Anyone read Lex Luthor:Man of Steel? That was Aaron Eckhart that Lex Luthor was modeled after.
  • Jason
  • cobrazombie
    Really? I for one am tired of seeing Lex Luthor trotted out all the time in Superman movies and shows. Although I was impressed with the Luthors on Smallville.
  • popadud
    Maybe Michael Chiklis
  • isakglasses
    my picks were Mark Strong,Jason Clarke and Leo DiCaprio but you just blew my mind with Chiwetel Ejiofor and now thinking about it,he would be the best choice.I cant pick someone better.
  • cj
    Leonardo DiCaprio
  • aceb
    How about Arnold Varsloo (Darkman, The Mummy)? One of the best character actors of all time.
  • aceb
    ARNOLD VARSLOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Steven James
    always thought Jason Isaacs would be a good Lex Luthor
  • Javier Vargas
    I hope it's Michael C. Hall. He has the range for the role and he's at the perfect age!
  • Yes! Michael C. Hall would be sick as Lex Luthor!
  • bigpimpin
    listen to your friend Billy Zane........He's a cool dude (from zoolander)
  • Kristian Poulin
    Mickael C Hall and Billy Zane can do the job but I would like the return of Kevin Spacey for the role. Is a amazing actor who did the best Lex Luthor role and he prove to us that he can be a serious killer, a bad ass and a funny guy, all in one character like Lex Luthor. And remember Kaiser Sauser in Usual Suspect what a play.
  • JohnO
    why does everyone have this image of Billy Zane has Lex Luthor just because he slightly resembles the Lex in the animated series!
  • Argh
    Its gotta be Billy Zane
  • Jj Blue-Eyes Stubbs
    Billy Zane is Lex Luthor,. come on!
  • AL
    I know this is an extremely old article but the fact that you think matt damon would make a good Lex really shows how little you know about the character
  • Ingle McCringle
    Mark Strong guys!!
  • wat
    I don't want to see anyone but Bryan Cranston playing the role. Come on Ben Affleck, campaign for your Argo co-star to be Lex!
  • Iam_Spartacus
    We've had enough of Luthor since the Chris Reeve/Brandon Routh outings along with Smallville. It's time bring in Brainiac, he's got a more sci-fi edge to him.




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