Some spoilers ahead for Man of Steel.
I really liked Batman Begins. It was a net take on Batman and the superhero origin story alike, with some cool ideas, an amazing score, a phenomenal cast and Katie Holmes. But don’t hold that against it. Of course in retrospect what Batman Begins is most notable for is building the foundation that would ultimately become The Dark Knight. Not too shabby a legacy.
Now it would appear that, for better or worse, Man of Steel is poised to inherit a similar legacy. In addition to its already earned sub-legacy of mass civilian casualties. But whatever. Man of Steel may still be in theaters, but with the announcement of an impending Batman versus Superman film at this year’s San Diego Comic Con fans are already looking ahead. And why shouldn’t they? It’s Batman yo.
But it’s also the direct follow up to Man of Steel and if Christopher Nolan has taught the superhero genre anything it’s that come round two you best be swinging for the fences. Sure bringing Batman into the fold would probably do the trick, but what’s a superhero movie with no super villain? And what better Superman rogue to swing for the fences with than Lex Luthor?
Judging by the volume of Lex Corp delivery trucks in Man of Steel the creative forces behind the budding DC Film Universe are gunning to introduce Lex into the fold at some point. I only hope that when that introduction happens Luthor proves to be more than a bald, old white dude. Sorry Hackman.
Director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer have already proven they aren’t averse to shaking up the Superman mythos; the Clark Kent/Superman/Lois Lane idiocy love triangle was scrapped entirely and Superman straight up murdered a dude. Yeah, yeah, changes like these stray from the gospel of the source material but guess what? Superman used to just be a guy who jumped really high. Timeless characters and their worlds either evolve or stagnate and the same goes for their villains.
With that in mind I have two worlds for the DC Entertainment crew: Idris Elba.
Idris Elba kicked ass in everything from The Wire to The Office to Prometheus. He’s the absolute ideal Lex Luthor and bringing an actor of his caliber to the table could push a Superman sequel beyond being just another comic book move.
First of all, Idris Elba is already in a show called Luther.
Secondly, he is definitely British or something like that.
Thirdly, and most importantly, let’s all stop pretending that all of these superhero movies aren’t completely white-washed and done so in the name of equally white-washed source material. If Hollywood was too ass backwards to give viewers a Donald Glover Peter Parker the least they can do is nut up and give us a black Lex Luthor.
As endlessly engaging as the totally underused brains versus brawns/Lex versus Superman business is, a black Lex Luthor would add impactful implications that could make a Man of Steel sequel something fresh and worthy of discussion.
As I’ve previously mentions, a potential Lex Luthor in a Man of Steel follow up has plenty of reason to dislike Superman, who is essentially an illegal alien who got together with his relative sand obliterated one of America’s greatest fictional cities. But a black Lex Luthor offers a far more nuanced conflict.
Great cities across America were built on the backs of African slaves who had to fight for hundreds of years to gain anything resembling equality. Clark Kent, an alien who just so happens to be a handsome white dude, manages to tear a city to the ground in an afternoon and still is bestowed the loving moniker “Superman.” It’s quite the disparity, and one that Lex Luthor could understandably seek to correct because at the end of the day his motivations wouldn’t be misplaced. That’s a villain that interests me. That’s a character that interests me.
Shit, if Henry Cavill weren’t already slated to reprise his role for what Warner Bros is undoubtedly hoping is the next decade I’d suggest Idris Elba be superman too. A super powered alien far superior to any other being on the planet just happens to land in a country were the people who look the most like him are one of the most politically marginalized populations in history? I’m in. But while Cavill’s solid performance and Hollywood’s utter lack of balls will probably rule out a black Superman, a black Lex Luthor is still so very, very attainable.
I do not give a shit about another rich, old, white guy and I don’t know why anyone else would either. Hopefully future Superman films, future DC Films and future will take a more compelling route with their characters and casting choices in the future. No, Marvel, putting Idris Elba in Thor does not count.
Idris Elba: Lex Luthor 2015.