7 Years Later, Superman: Legacy Will Fix Its Most Iconic Villain

Sometimes it’s best to go back to evil basics.

DC Comics

When you think of Batman, you think of the Joker. When you think of Spider-Man, you think of Green Goblin. And, of course, when you think of Superman, you think of Lex Luthor. James Gunn’s upcoming Superman reboot, Superman: Legacy, already found its Superman and Lois Lane in David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan, but the question of who would play Superman’s iconic rival remained a mystery.

Now, Deadline reports that Nicholas Hoult has been cast as the CEO of LexCorp. The actor was previously tested for Superman himself, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but now he’ll take on the villain role. That’s a small detail of this story, but one that reveals how Superman: Legacy is already setting itself apart from the latest batch of Superman films.

Jesse Eisenberg’s take on Lex Luthor was... different.

Warner Bros.

The last time we saw Lex Luthor as a major movie villain was in 2016’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. There, he was a quivering, tortured genius played by Jesse Eisenberg, who basically reprised his role as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network with a comic book villain twist. He was still a corporate overlord, but his personality was antisocial and nerdy. It was a fresh take on the character, but one that proved divisive.

Now the actor playing Luthor was in contention for the role of Superman himself, which implies a completely different personality. Nicholas Hoult is tailor-made to play a charismatic, affable bad guy. That describes his character in both The Menu and The Great, where he plays men with nefarious intentions who get by on their charms.

Nicholas Hoult recently acted alongside Nicolas Cage in Renfield.


That makes Hoult perfect for a classic slick villain. Hoult has the look of a CEO people would trust, someone who could get away with even the most evil schemes through his sheer confidence and charisma. That suggests an old-school, robber baron take on Lex Luthor, which makes sense; the more we hear about this new movie, the more classic it feels. Even the logo in James Gunn’s release date announcement evoked classic Superman comics.

Nicholas Hoult’s casting is further evidence that Superman: Legacy will return the new DC Universe to basics. The latest cinematic universe is looking to get off to a fresh start with a classic take on an iconic villain, one who schemes in boardrooms rather than coming up with plots that involve jars of urine.

Superman: Legacy premieres in theaters July 11, 2025.

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