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By tapping Nicholas Hoult for Lex Luthor James Gunn is learning from Snyder’s best

Techbro Lex Luthor is the Lex Luthor we deserve

Nicholas Hoult’s Tyler, dressed in a suit and tie, tears up as a chef off screen describes his meal in The Menu Image: Searchlight Pictures
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Casting for James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy is on the move! While Clark Kent and Lois Lane actors David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan were confirmed in June, the past week alone has seen casting news for the Daily Planet’s Jimmy Olsen, Lex Corp’s Eve Teschmacher, a villainous version of the superhero the Engineer, and, of course, Lex Luthor himself. Nicholas Hoult, Variety reports, is in talks to play Superman’s archenemy.

And while we wouldn’t like to typecast Hoult, exactly, a choice of the Mad Max: Fury Road, Renfield, and X-Men: First Class actor does seem to point at a certain take on Luthor. A take first brought to cinema by Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

A take that transforms Lex Luthor into an unstoppable, assholish tech billionaire.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Image: Warner Bros.

There are two sides to Lex Luthor: The unflappable industrialist who’d run for president just to piss Superman off, and the megalomaniacal mad scientist, who’d throw his presidency away by dosing himself with kryptonite-laced Venom, making out with Amanda Waller, and cutting a deal with a god of fascism for a Superman-battling mechsuit.

Nicholas Hoult has the range to play that spectrum — between straight-laced nerd (Hank McCoy), twitchy beta male (Nux the War Boy), and entitled mania (Emperor Peter III of Russia). And he’s got the boyish build to play a man who got so much power so young that he never quite had to grow up. All qualities you could also pin to Jesse Eisenberg and his Lex Luthor.

Snyder’s Batman v Superman, for all its flaws, recognized that the evil, manic billionaire of the modern age wasn’t a Gordon Gecko type but a Mark Zuckerberg. And it’s hard to argue with that, when some of Silicon Valley’s leading technologists have spent the better part of a week embroiled in a web of firing, hiring, heart-emoji protesting, and subtweeting, all — potentially, avowedly — because some of them think the others are getting a little too close to possibly ending the world.

Techbro Lex Luthor is the Lex Luthor we deserve, and the Lex Luthor we need right now — and hopefully it’s the one we’re getting in Superman: Legacy.

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