By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist August 9, 2013 at 9:59AM
With the dust settled on "Man Of Steel" (an awful lot of dust, given how much of Metropolis was totaled by film's end) it's fair to call it a successful reboot of the Superman franchise. Sure, it divided fans and critics, and didn't hit the giddy billion-dollar heights of the "Dark Knight" films (yet), but $650 million and counting isn't anything to be sniffed at for a franchise starter, and Warner Bros made clear that they're pushing forward at Comic-Con by bringing out Zack Snyder to announce that he'd be returning to direct the film's sequel, which would feature Henry Cavill's Kal-El face off against a new iteration of Batman.
With the film aiming for a 2015 release, things are moving swiftly on the project, so it's no surprise that we're already hearing casting rumors, with names like Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin cropping up for the Caped Crusader last weekend. And now, the last couple of days have brought some hints at two actors who might follow in the footsteps of Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey to play Superman's greatest nemesis, Lex Luthor, in the project.
First up, perennial movie villain Mark Strong (who's been the bad guy in "Sherlock Holmes," "John Carter," "Robin Hood" and "Kick Ass" among others) has apparently had his name out there in the ether for the part for a while, and when Digital Spy put the possibility to him, the actor (whose AMC series "Low Winter Sun" begins airing this Sunday, and who gives an excellent performance in "Blood," which is in limited release this weekend) told the site "All I can say is... watch this space," which hardly qualifies as a denial, and certainly seems to suggest that he's at least in the running.
But there may be someone else with a head start on the role, as Latino Review's scoopmeister El Mayimbe has been dropping numerous hints on Twitter that Strong's AMC colleague Bryan Cranston may be up for the gig. The "Breaking Bad" actor's schedule is clearing up now that the series has wrapped (its final eight episodes begin airing Sunday), and the actor has a good relationship with Warners, having featured in "Contagion," "Rock Of Ages" and the upcoming "Godzilla" for the studio (he also voiced James Gordon in the animated "Batman: Year One" series, fact fans).
Of course, these are all unverified rumors, and things are early enough down the line that these could just be names being kicked around by Snyder & co. There's no doubt that either actor would be a good fit for the part, but given that they're among the more famous bald character actors around, there's a certain lack of imagination at work. And if you're gonna think about well-known slapheads, at least give Corey Stoll some consideration...
We probably won't get a firm answer in the immediate future, but we're also likely to know before too long: with "Batman Vs. Superman," or whatever it ends up being called, aiming for a 2015 release, filming needs to get underway early next year at the latest.