Jesse Eisenberg is to play super-villian Lex Luthor in Warner Bros’ Superman-Batman – a casting that has taken fans by surprise.
Eisenberg, 30, is a widely respected actor and playwright, but is not associated with the kind of villainous gravitas that Gene Hackman brought to the role.
The American actor made his screen debut with the comedy-drama television series Get Real from 1999 to 2000, before landing his first leading role in the 2002 film Roger Dodger.
Eisenberg is not the only disputed choice for the film, which is to be directed by Zac Snyder - fans have also questioned the selection of Ben Affleck as Batman. Henry Cavill will reprise the role of Superman.
Snyder said Eisenberg will allow the film to take Luthor in "some new and unexpected directions".
In the studio’s announcement, the director said Luthor is "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".
Eisenberg is certainly not a stranger to playing the role of a rich genius. In 2010, he portrayed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, for which he received both a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination in the Best Actor category.
On Twitter, fans expressed mixed reactions. User @Ohadlu tweeted: "It sucks!" @dodgeronfire said: "I’m just not sure about Jesse Eisenberg playing Luthor."
But @anthonymerciar tweeted that the decision was "awesome".
The star-studded cast will be completed by Jeremy Irons in the role of Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler and loyal guardian – a part that went to Sir Michael Caine in the Dark Knight trilogy.
The film is due to open in May 2016.