Up until last week, I was convinced that no news regarding the DCEU could compete with the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman. Then I saw the viral marketing campaign they rolled out last Monday in advance of New York Comic Con. It was a simple enough plan that ended up snowballing into huge buzz that arguably dwarfed the competition.
It’s worth mentioning that if you were one of the thousands of attendees to NYCC, you were probably in awe of announcements like Ant Man and the Wasp, or news about Jessica Jones. While those are big stories, to the internet at large over the last week, the story was Lex Luthor.
First there was the profile of Lex Luthor in Fortune. After that came the official LexCorp website and YouTube video. It all culminated on Thursday with the announcement that LexCorp was not only sponsoring free WiFi throughout the Javits Center, but offering charging stations and portable chargers for those in attendance at New York Comic Con. Slick.
The LexCorp viral marketing ploy from DC was so successful because it gave us a closer look at one of the most important characters in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s no stretch to say that DC has been rather tight-lipped when it comes to giving the fanboys any details about this particular villain. After months of waiting, we’ve finally gotten our hands on something substantive. (Commence fangirling in 3…2…)
Let’s break it down, shall we? If you want to go into Batman v Superman totally fresh, look away now.
The Fortune write-up was a brilliant piece of marketing literature. Not only did it give us a look into the mind of the villain, but it also finally answered the question as to why Jesse Eisenberg, who is in his early 30’s, was cast. Here he is referred to as Alexander Luthor Jr. In this movie universe, his father died in 2000, and Lex later took his place as CEO. Slightly different than what some were expecting, but the backstory is rich with goodies!
According to the article, Alexander Luthor Jr. is a 31-year-old genius who was able to successfully transform LexCorp, the heavy machinery and petrochemical company that his father built into a tech empire that took the Fortune 500 world by storm. Alexander enjoys vegan cuisine, codes like a wizard, and collects meteorites (hint hint). His life is influenced by a specific worldview from his father, who grew up in East Germany under the rule of an oppressive government.
The article also told us how young Luthor’s company compares with another massive corporation, Wayne Enterprises. While Wayne has passed on lucrative government and military contracts, LexCorp has embraced them. Perhaps the only thing that the two giants have in common is charity. Lex’s company is one of the top three charitable companies in the world, although according to the wunderkind himself, he can offer the world something more. According to the young CEO, the technology and products that are slated roll out will allow people to protect themselves better than ever before.
That is why LexCorp decided to sponsor New York Comic Con. Free WiFi and charging stations were no doubt greatly appreciated by the tech-savvy attendees. It’s also worth mentioning that the internet connection also allows people to view a corporate YouTube video and website. They both preview a big announcement coming this winter.
I doubt it will just be another trailer, there are more of those rumored to come out the night that Supergirl premieres on CBS. I’m betting it’s going to be a glimpse of the product that Lex Luthor talked about in his Fortune interview. We don’t know how Lex/OS will offer people more protection, but the anticipation is going to kill me!
Even I initially had some concerns when I learned that Eisenberg was cast as the villain. I was worried that he would come across more like an angry Mark Zuckerberg, and less like the character I love. Thank to the info we’ve received this week, I have a lot more confidence now that he’ll kick ass in this role.
A strong comic book movie requires a strong villain, which is why this whole stunt was so well-received. While Lex’s father has passed away in this universe, he influenced his son greatly. He raised his son to have those same world view that we’re familiar with in the comics. It’s a believable story.
As much as he believes in philanthropy and mankind, he believes in himself. His only superpower is his mind, which is more than enough. Like General Zod in Man of Steel, he doesn’t see himself as evil. Instead, he is trying to make the world the best that it can be the only way that he knows how. Some of the most heinous acts throughout human history have been committed by people who believed they were acting in the best interests of everyone. Tossing Superman into the mix gives him something to fear, which makes him incredibly dangerous.
As promised, Zack Snyder and Jesse Eisenberg are giving us a psychologically complex tech genius who is also a wildly successful businessman. He’s not interested in campy land schemes. I have a feeling that when he says he hates Superman, we’ll not only believe him, but understand why.
After this past week, I no longer think it’s going out on a limb to say that this movie is probably going to get one of the most complex comic movie villain portrayals on the big screen we’ve ever seen.
Kudos to you DC. You earned a slow hand clap from me on this one. The last thing I expected was for one of the primary antagonists of the DCEU to be Lex’s son. Nicely done.
Now, if only I knew what the hell kind of surprise they have in store for us this coming winter…