It has been reported by Deadline that Nicholas Hoult, who played the bullied child in About a Boy, may now be cast as Superman’s archenemy, Lex Luthor, in James Gunn’s upcoming film, Superman: Legacy. I am unsure of how to feel about this news.
Hoult has evolved into an intriguing actor with strong comedic skills, suggesting that he will continue to be a presence even after his youthful appearance diminishes. He may become a modern-day version of Terence Stamp or Christopher Lee, rather than simply another attractive British actor finding success in Hollywood. His portrayal of Peter III in The Great was surprisingly complex, showcasing a bloodthirsty, self-absorbed and manipulative character with a soft side. Fun fact, he was even considered for the role of Superman.
However, the decision to cast Luthor reveals something about Gunn’s intended direction. It may not be entirely reminiscent of Smallville, but there is a hint of a “young Superman” vibe – despite the director’s claims to the contrary. The 33-year-old Hoult will face off against 30-year-old David Corenswet as the last son of Krypton. With Gunn’s previous announcement that he would not be working with previous actor Henry Cavill, it seems that a youthful reboot is in the works. This could potentially lead us down a similar path to the widely criticized Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which featured a newcomer (Jesse Eisenberg) in the role of Luthor, and ultimately faced backlash for the decision.
There are several reasons to feel optimistic. Gunn is better at overseeing comic book universes than Snyder, who may have impressive visuals but lacks true creativity. As the current leader of DC, Gunn has the chance to create Superman: Legacy according to his own vision. He has rejected most aspects of the previous unsuccessful administration, even though some, like Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, were still popular. So if he has chosen Hoult as the main villain, there must be a reason behind it.
There is a possibility that the new Luthor may not be fully developed as the main supervillain in Legacy. Recently, it was reported that María Gabriela de Faría, a Venezuelan actor, will play the villainous Angela Spica, also known as the Engineer, who first appeared in a 1999 comic series. Gunn’s upcoming film seems to have a broader scope in terms of world-building compared to early DCEU movies, with characters like Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and Mister Terrific making their debuts. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more villains enter the story. There are even rumors that Brainiac, a Superman enemy never seen on the big screen before, could be the final addition to this exciting new comic book universe. With the current focus on AI in sci-fi, this could be perfect timing.
Hoult could potentially be the ideal choice for Luthor, lurking in the background and plotting against the new Kal-El until the opportune moment to attack. I find it difficult to envision Hoult as a smirking, sneering Lex reminiscent of Gene Hackman, dominating scenes and overpowering Supes (at least in terms of acting ability, if not physical strength) just yet. However, he has certainly earned the opportunity to prove any doubters wrong.