Beyond the easy choice to bring back Henry Cavill, the casting of "Batman Vs. Superman" has been a real head-scratcher. First, Ben Affleck stunned the comic book world by landing the role of Bruce Wayne. Then Warner Bros. cast the relatively unknown actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and now the studio is looking at a well-respected, but highly unorthodox pick for the main villain.
According to Variety, Joaquin Phoenix, hot off his critically praised performance in "Her" (another WB movie), is the studio's top choice for the lead antagonist in the upcoming superhero crossover movie, scheduled for release in July 2015. The trade is careful to mention that Phoenix's involvement in the project thus far is entirely passive, since WB has simply expressed interest.
Variety's sources also mention that the role Phoenix may be offered is still unknown, but previous talk pegged Superman's arch-nemesis Lex Luthor as the villain for the film.
Talk of casting Phoenix for the role of Lex Luthor will no doubt come as a surprise to fans, who have spent the months since San Diego Comic-Con tossing around names like Bryan Cranston and Mark Strong, actors who bear more of a resemblance to the evil genius. Gene Hackman was the first actor to take on the role for the big screen, and Kevin Spacey took over in Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns."
Fans who have been following the production closely will recall that "Game of Thrones" actor Jason Momoa was said to have been in talks to join the cast. The identity of that character is still unknown, but Variety mentions that Momoa and Phoenix are being considered for different parts.
Phoenix can be seen next in "Her" and Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" next year.
"Batman Vs. Superman" opens in theaters on July 17, 2015.