Jesse Eisenberg to Play Lex Luthor in Batman-Superman Film

Jeremy Irons also signs on to play Bruce Wayne's butler

Jesse Eisenberg
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Jesse Eisenberg
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First Mark Zuckerberg, now Lex Luthor? The Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg has been cast as Superman's arch-nemesis in the upcoming (and still-untitled) "Batman vs. Superman" film, Warner Bros. announced today. Veteran character actor Jeremy Irons has also signed on to play Alfred, the mentor/butler of Bruce Wayne, in the sequel to 2013's Man of Steel.

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With his boy-next-door appeal, the 30-year-old Eisenberg is an unconventional choice for the role, but director Zack Snyder says the actor will allow for a complex take on the character.

"Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman's rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940," Snyder said in a statement. "What's great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He's a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions."

Speaking about the Alfred role, Snyder praised Irons as an "amazingly seasoned and gifted actor."

"As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne's most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure," he said. "He is an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman."

In recent months, the project's casting has been shrouded in gossip; early reports linked the Lex Luthor role to Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston. While the cast hasn't been completely finalized, the film will reunite Henry Cavill (as Superman) with Man of Steel castmates Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane. Israeli actress Gal Gadot recently signed on to play Wonder Woman, while Ben Affleck is set to play Batman – a casting decision that's been less than well-received.

Fantasy veteran David S. Goyer will write the script (with a polish from Oscar winning Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio), based on a story cowritten by Goyer and Snyder. The film is currently in pre-production and set for a release date of May 6th, 2016 – recently pushed back from July 2015.