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?

Find more posts: Casting, Discuss, Editorial



Corey Stoll is my choice.

Rex on Aug 12, 2013


Mark Strong would be perfect.

Andreas Climent on Aug 12, 2013


Mark Strong IS Lex Luthor.

Josh on Aug 12, 2013


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.

si1ver on Aug 12, 2013


Then they can't use Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern in Justice League for sure.

Guy who comments on things on Aug 12, 2013


Chiwetel Ejiofor. You failed to mention his performance in Serenity!

Morvidus on Aug 12, 2013


Wonderful performance. Very Lex Luther in its cold, calculated precision.

Jon Odishaw on Aug 12, 2013


It's true

conradthegreat on Aug 12, 2013


That whole film is the perfect demo to send the MoS casting people.

OfficialJab on Aug 12, 2013


Chiwetel Ejiofor is a good one. I would say Idris Elba, but then he'd be a better Bruce Wayne/Batman.

smathews on Aug 12, 2013


Karen Gillian, no I'm dead serious.

Yahoo!!! on Aug 12, 2013


Michael C Hall is the man for the job.

Guy who comments on things on Aug 12, 2013


Michael C Hall would be awesome!

Moutchy on Aug 12, 2013


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.

Rain Spider on Aug 12, 2013



bart on Aug 12, 2013



tankatemysandwiches on Aug 12, 2013


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_mrXJSOEIg You should listen to Billy Zane... he's a cool dude.

DanHibiki on Aug 12, 2013


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.

Scott Mendelson on Aug 12, 2013


Giancarlo Esposito is the only option. Giancarlo.Fucking.Esposito.

Simon on Aug 12, 2013


Pierce's half brother?

DanHibiki on Aug 12, 2013


^ Gus fring

Cody W on Aug 12, 2013


Gustavo FTW!

TurboTimmy on Aug 12, 2013


Matt Damon? Are you out of your mind? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

dawko on Aug 12, 2013


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.

Jose on Aug 12, 2013


Mark Strong all the way

Quynh Truong on Aug 12, 2013


"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.

Chris on Aug 12, 2013


Sorry to say but all seven are AWFUL options.

leinergroove on Aug 12, 2013


Michael Stuhlbarg could own this role

conradthegreat on Aug 12, 2013


lex luther is not black... here we go again

derpface on Aug 12, 2013


His name is also not Lex Luther so there's that...

Guest on Aug 12, 2013



ekoville on Aug 12, 2013


Can we stop this superhero crap and make real movies again?

toksin on Aug 12, 2013


you are saying that on the WRONG site! i agree with you...but i don't think you'll get much support on here.

javier on Aug 12, 2013


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.

Guy who comments on things on Aug 12, 2013


Ethan, I'm surprised you all haven't reported on the rumored Orlando Bloom as Batman/Bruce Wayne...

Quanah on Aug 12, 2013


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.

Alex Billington on Aug 12, 2013


Yeah. It's real, as of yesterday. Several sources, but none are too convincing. We'll see!

Quanah on Aug 12, 2013


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.

Alex Billington on Aug 12, 2013


Part of the reason I didn't email you a submission. Lots of sites reporting and I didn't recognize them as credible.

Quanah on Aug 12, 2013


*cough* Mentioning Latino Review every week does not count on spreading rumors?*cough* πŸ˜‰

David Banner on Aug 13, 2013


I just heard this rumor, and about puked. I like Orlando, but as Batman? Hell to the no.

VAharleywitch on Aug 13, 2013


Save Michael C. Hall for Daredevil Born Again. He was born to play that role!

ikkf on Aug 12, 2013


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.

batsupe on Aug 12, 2013


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.

Dresden on Aug 12, 2013


Is this actually a rumor for Hall and Daredevil? Second post I've seen about this.

Blake Sturchio on Aug 13, 2013


It's a rumor, pretty sure started by fans. Maybe not a rumor, more of a wish.

Dresden on Aug 14, 2013


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

Nicholas Robinson on Aug 12, 2013


just cast billy zane an chiwetel them two are the best ones to cast. dexter maybe a 3rd pick

MARZ76 on Aug 13, 2013


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!

Al on Aug 13, 2013


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.

Blake Sturchio on Aug 13, 2013


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.

Julian on Aug 13, 2013


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.

David Banner on Aug 13, 2013


"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?

RaziΓ«l Makenshi on Aug 13, 2013


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.

YouKnowImRight on Aug 13, 2013


Shut the hell up! you know nothing!

jah p on Aug 13, 2013


omg - white Shaft with Jason Statham... GO!!!

avconsumer2 on Aug 13, 2013


I'm black and I would love to see that, accent and all!

Dane Beasley on Aug 13, 2013


Liz Taylor as "Cleopatra". How soon white bigots forget their...bigotry.

onlinesavant on Aug 13, 2013


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˜‰

avconsumer2 on Aug 13, 2013


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.

ratchetrandy on Dec 22, 2013


"YouKnowImRight" is....well...right. Exactly right. Whites are expected to make every accommodation for the black community but it doesn't go both ways.

Filadog on Aug 13, 2013


Tom Hardy. You're welcome.

avconsumer2 on Aug 13, 2013


After playing Riddick, Vin Diesel could easily pull off Luthor. Same menacing, quietness of speech. He's easily a dark character. Low, strong voice.

FXDWG on Aug 13, 2013


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"

VAharleywitch on Aug 13, 2013


lol - nah... I'd be thinking the whole move that Lex could just kick Sup's ass, regardless of powers.

avconsumer2 on Aug 13, 2013


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.

Adam Unger on Aug 13, 2013


My vote for Lex Luthor would be Woody Harrelson, Dylan McDermott, Boris Khojoe, Ken Watanbe, Javier Bardiem, and Ben Foster.

jah p on Aug 13, 2013


How about Aaron Eckhart? Anyone read Lex Luthor:Man of Steel? That was Aaron Eckhart that Lex Luthor was modeled after.

billy on Aug 13, 2013



Jason on Aug 13, 2013


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.

cobrazombie on Aug 13, 2013


Maybe Michael Chiklis

popadud on Aug 13, 2013


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.

isakglasses on Aug 14, 2013


Leonardo DiCaprio

cj on Aug 17, 2013


How about Arnold Varsloo (Darkman, The Mummy)? One of the best character actors of all time.

aceb on Aug 18, 2013


ARNOLD VARSLOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

aceb on Aug 18, 2013


always thought Jason Isaacs would be a good Lex Luthor

Steven James on Aug 24, 2013


I hope it's Michael C. Hall. He has the range for the role and he's at the perfect age!

Javier Vargas on Aug 26, 2013


Yes! Michael C. Hall would be sick as Lex Luthor!

Eric Morrel on Aug 28, 2013


listen to your friend Billy Zane........He's a cool dude (from zoolander)

bigpimpin on Sep 5, 2013


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.

Kristian Poulin on Nov 10, 2013


why does everyone have this image of Billy Zane has Lex Luthor just because he slightly resembles the Lex in the animated series!

JohnO on Dec 11, 2013


Its gotta be Billy Zane

Argh on Dec 27, 2013


Billy Zane is Lex Luthor,. come on!

Jj Blue-Eyes Stubbs on Jan 7, 2014


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

AL on Jan 22, 2014


Mark Strong guys!!

Ingle McCringle on Jan 22, 2014


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!

wat on Jan 22, 2014


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.

Iam_Spartacus on Jan 23, 2014

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