Jesse Eisenberg Is Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons Is Alfred in ‘Batman vs. Superman’

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Bryan Enk
·Contributor
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Jesse Eisenberg is the new Lex Luthor
Jesse Eisenberg is the new Lex Luthor

The guy who played Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will now portray the greatest criminal mind of our time.

Warner Bros. may be noticeably absent from the studios showing off their latest offerings with Super Bowl spots this weekend, but they've just upstaged the game hype with huge casting announcements for what's arguably their most highly anticipated tentpole, "Batman vs. Superman."

First of all, it looks like long-rumored villain Lex Luthor will indeed be a chief antagonist in Zack Snyder's superhero mashup, with the Man of Steel's longtime arch-enemy being played by "The Social Network" star Jesse Eisenberg.

"Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940," said Snyder in a press release. "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."

The character was previously played on the big screen by Kevin Spacey in Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" (2006) and, most gloriously, by Gene Hackman in "Superman" (1978), "Superman II" (1981) and even the much-reviled "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" (1987).

Eisenberg's knack for portraying sniveling arrogance in power-hungry characters, most recently on display in "Now You See Me" (2013), should serve his performance as Lex just fine.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Irons will be joining the DC universe in the role of Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's trusted butler and confidante most recently portrayed on the big screen by Michael Caine in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" trilogy.

"As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure," said Snyder. "He is an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman. It is an honor to have such an amazingly seasoned and gifted actor as Jeremy taking on the important role of the man who mentors and guides the guarded and nearly impervious façade that encapsulates Bruce Wayne."

Prior to Irons and Caine was the late, great Michael Gough, who played Alfred in "Batman" (1989), "Batman Returns" (1992), "Batman Forever" (1995) and "Batman & Robin" (1997).

Irons, who recently appeared in "Beautiful Creatures" (2013) and swung a sword alongside "Batman Begins" star Liam Neeson in "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005), certainly has the aristocratic air for Alfred ... and will probably add his own unique spin on the slyness and gentle humor brought to the character by both Caine and Gough. He may even get his own crying scene, too.

Eisenberg and Irons join a cast that includes Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman), Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White) and Diane Lane (Martha Kent).

"Batman vs. Superman" will hit theaters on May 6, 2016.