Buried in the announcement that Jesse Eisenberg had been cast as Lex Luthor, Warner Bros. Pictures told fans today that The Lion King villain Jeremy Irons will play Bruce Wayne's butler and childhood guardian Alfred Pennyworth in the upcoming, Zack Snyder-directed Batman vs. Superman.
The film, still technically, untitled, is a sequel to last year's Man of Steel and so Eisenberg and Irons will star alongside Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Ben Affleck joins the film's cast as Batman, and Gal Gadot will appear as Wonder Woman.
“As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure," Snyder said. "He is an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman. It is an honor to have such an amazingly seasoned and gifted actor as Jeremy taking on the important role of the man who mentors and guides the guarded and nearly impervious façade that encapsulates Bruce Wayne.”
Irons is an actor's actor, widely regarded as one of the best in the industry but often found in low-performing or poorly reviewed movies where he's the best (or only good) part. Recent years have seen him turn to television, where he's had roles on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (alongside Man of Steel's Christopher Meloni), the critically-acclaimed British series The Borgias and as the title role in Henry IV, starring alongside Thor and The Avengers villain Tom Hiddleston (left). Over the course of his career, he has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, two Emmy Awards, a Tony Award and numerous others.
Weirdly, the addition of Oscar winners Irons and Affleck offsets the loss of Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner, who starred in Man of Steel.
The new film is currently being written by Chris Terrio, from a screenplay by David S. Goyer, who is quickly becoming DC Entertainment's "plot guy," with input into the upcoming Constantine pilot and reportedly a number of other projects on the horizon. Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder are producing, with Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Wesley Coller, David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns serving as executive producers.
The film is set to open worldwide on May 6, 2016, and is based on Superman characters created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, Batman characters created by Bob Kane, and Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston, appearing in comic books published by DC Entertainment.