Mild spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice follow.
If you’ve seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, then you’re aware of the multitude of DC Comics characters that appear in the film. We’ve got Flash, we’ve got Aquaman, we’ve even got Cyborg in the mix. But there’s one famous Superman character that you probably didn’t even know was in the movie: Jimmy Olsen. Indeed, Lois Lane’s stalwart photographer makes an appearance in the film that is cut shockingly short, and you may or may not want to sit down before we reveal who he is.
So remember the North Africa sequence at the beginning of the movie, where Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is investigating something or other and her coworker turns out to be a CIA agent using her as cover? That CIA agent, played by The O.C. actor Michael Cassidy, is in fact Jimmy Olsen. He’s listed that way in the credits, and in speaking with EW, director Zack Snyder confirms the character’s identity and explains why he was dispatched with in such a shockingly dark way:
“We just did it as this little aside because we had been tracking where we thought the movies were gonna go, and we don’t have room for Jimmy Olsen in our big pantheon of characters, but we can have fun with him, right?”
Yeah, so that’s dark. Although I do suppose it’s kind of neat that Jimmy Olsen gets to make a brief appearance in this DC Extended Universe, even if it’s all too brief—and what a shame, since Cassidy’s a pretty terrific actor. Snyder revealed that a longer version of the scene, in which he introduces himself as Jimmy Olsen, is included on the R-rated “Ultimate Edition” of the film, so fans will at least get to spend a few more moments with the character on that extended cut.
But Snyder’s original plans for Jimmy Olsen were even more sinister, with the filmmaker aiming to pull a Psycho and cast a prominent actor in the role and then shockingly kill them off in the movie’s opening minutes. The actor he had in mind? The film’s eventual Lex Luthor, Jesse Eisenberg:
“I thought, if it were Jesse Eisenberg and he got out and he goes, ‘I’m Jimmy Olsen,’ you’d be like, oh my God, we’re gonna have Jimmy Olsen in the whole movie, right?’” Snyder says. “And then if he got shot, you’d just be like, ‘What!? You can’t do that.’”
Snyder says that after his first meeting with Eisenberg, he and producer Deborah Snyder sparked to the idea of casting the actor as Lex instead, aiming to take that character in a very different direction. The filmmaker confirms he considered “the usual suspects” for the Luthor role before Eisenberg, including Bryan Cranston, but casting the younger actor as the character took the villain to new and unexpected places.
So yeah, Jesse Eisenberg was almost Jimmy Olsen, and in the final version of the film the character isn’t even mentioned by name. Again, it is kind of cool that Snyder snuck the character in there without anyone knowing, but a bit of a bummer that Olsen won’t be a part of any of the future DC films.