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Jeremy Irons is Alfred, Jesse Eisenberg is Lex Luthor in 'Batman vs. Superman'

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Jeremy Irons and Jesse Eisenberg have been cast in "Batman vs. Superman," the first sequel to 2013's "Man of Steel," according to an announcement made by Warner Bros. Pictures on Jan. 31, 2014. Forbes reported that Irons is set to play Alfred, Batman/Bruce Wayne's loyal butler. Eisenberg has been cast as villain Lex Luthor. According to Forbes, Lex Luthor will be a secondary villain in the movie, which is scheduled for release on July 17, 2015. The movie's primary villain is to be announced.

Irons has appeared in numerous productions for film, TV and stage. His movies include 1988's "Dead Ringers," 1990's "Reversal of Fortune" (for which he won an Oscar for Best Actor), 1994's "The Lion King," 1995's "Die Hard With a Vengeance" and 2013's "Beautiful Creatures." He also stars in the TV series "The Borgias."

Eisenberg is mostly known for his roles in movies such as 2009's "Zombieland," 2010's "The Social Network" (for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor) and 2013's "Now You See Me."

Michael Caine played Alfred the butler in director Christopher Nolan's three "Batman" movies: 2005's "Batman Begins," 2008's "The Dark Knight" and 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises."

Kevin Spacey played Lex Luthor in 2006's "Superman Returns," while Gene Hackman was Lex Luthor in 1978's "Superman" and 1980's "Superman 2."

As previously reported, Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in "Batman vs. Superman." Deadline.com reported the news on Dec. 4, 2013.

Gadot has been in three "Fast & Furious" films: 2013's "Fast & Furious 6," 2011's "Fast Five" and 2009's "Fast & Furious." Her other movie credits include the 2010 films "Knight and Day" and "Date Night."

It is assumed that Gadot will also play Wonder Woman in the Justice League movie that is being planned, unless she has a falling out with the filmmakers.

Wonder Woman was famously played on TV by Lynda Carter in the 1970s and, more recently, by Adrianne Palicki in a 2011 NBC TV pilot that never aired. "Batman vs. Superman" will be the first major studio movie to have Wonder Woman in a prominent role.

Ben Affleck was controversially cast as Batman in "Batman vs. Superman." The movie will have many of the same filmmakers (including director Zack Snyder) and stars (including Henry Cavill as Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane) who were part of the "Man of Steel" team.

"Man of Steel" is available on DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and VOD.

When the casting of Affleck as Batman was announced on Aug. 22, 2013, there were immediate and massive protests from movie fans. Many people even signed an online petition to have Affleck removed from the role. (It's a futile cause, since Affleck is not going to be fired from the movie.) There were some fans who were pleased with the decision to cast Affleck as Batman, but they seemed to be outnumbered on the Internet by those who expressed anger and disappointment about Affleck being Batman.

At the time, Snyder issued this statement about Affleck being cast as Batman: “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”

In a statement about the casting of Gadot as Wonder Woman, Synder commented: “Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role. We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character.”

As previously reported, Affleck's wife, Jennifer Garner, spoke out in defense of him being cast as Batman. On Sept. 8, 2013, I caught up with Garner for an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Garner was promoting "Dallas Buyers Club."

In the interview, when Garner was asked about the backlash against her husband being cast as Batman, she replied: "Of course, he's a great choice. Believe me, you can't expect anything else [with the backlash]. He's a grown-up. It's this [controversy], then it's something else, then it's the VMAs, then it's something else. That is just what [judgment] you're getting into, but he's going to be fantastic."

I asked Garner how long she had to keep it a secret that her husband had the role of Batman. She smiled and said, "Oh, months! Months and months!"

Garner and Affleck have been married since 2005. They co-starred in the 2003 superhero movie "Daredevil," in which Affleck played Daredevil (also known as Matt Murdock), and Garner played Daredevil's superhero ally/love interest Elektra.

Affleck appeared on NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to promote his movie "Runner Runner" on Sept. 16, 2013. During the interview, Affleck talked about the backlash over him being cast as Batman: "They said, 'Just don’t use the Internet for a couple of days.' I handle sh*t! I'm tough! I saw the announcement, I look down the thing. 'Ben Affleck is going to be Batman.' The first comment? 'No!'"

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