The news that Jesse Eisenberg would play Lex Luthor in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel was met with a barrage of Social Network jokes and raised eyebrows: but let's not forget, he may seem like an indie darling, but he has some blockbuster bona fides.
For as much as the sentence "Jesse Eisenberg to play Lex Luthor" seems scientifically designed to elicit enraged/derisive Twitter responses, it's important not to get carried away. From both a business and creative perspective, Eisenberg isn't that crazy a choice, particularly if you imagine the current state of superhero blockbusters, which appear to be seeking both box-office dominance and cinematic cred. If anything, that was the legacy of Christopher Nolan's Batman films, which elevated the superhero flick to something that was so well-regarded that the Oscars expanded their Best Picture category because of the outcry that The Dark Knight didn't get a Best Picture nomination.
For movies that seek to be both commercial and critical successes, Eisenberg's a bit of a canny choice. Consider: Eisenberg belongs to a rare class of actors that a) have had a Best Actor Oscar nomination in the last five years, b) have been in at least two 90 percent+ fresh movies on Rotten Tomatoes in that time frame, and c) and have made a movie grossing over $100 million in the last year. Let's review: Eisenberg was nominated for an Oscar for The Social Network. He has been in the well reviewed Zombieland, The Social Network, and as of the most recent Toronto Film Festival, The Double. Meanwhile, Now You See Me, was one of the surprise hits of last summer, grossing $117.7 million.