According to unnamed sources, the Oscar-nominated star is in early talks with Warner Brothers to play an unidentified role believed to be Luthor, Superman’s infamous arch-nemesis, reports Variety. Phoenix’s representatives declined to comment on the rumor and, as Variety notes, the actor might not even accept the role if he’s offered it.
A blockbuster superhero film does seem like an odd choice for Phoenix, who has been avoiding mainstream films lately and earning major acclaim in the process. This year, he appeared in Spike Jonze’s buzzed-about film Her, playing a disillusioned man who falls in love with a computer operating system; he also earned a Best Actor nomination last year for his performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which Rolling Stone ranked the best film of 2012.
The Lex Luthor role has been a major source of speculation this year. At one point, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston was rumored to have signed on as the villain, while Callan Mulvey and Jason Momoa have also been linked to the role. Other reports have suggested the film will feature other members of the Justice League, including Wonder Woman and the Flash. While most of these roles are still up in the air, others have been made official – including Ben Affleck as Batman (which sparked a nerdy uproar earlier this year) and Henry Cavill as Superman.
The Zack Snyder-directed sequel, which follows this year’s Man of Steel, will hit theaters on July 17th, 2015.