Lex Luthor star shares comic inspiration for James Gunn’s Superman, and says he’s been working out to play the villain

(Image credit: Searchlight)

Nicholas Hoult is playing iconic villain Lex Luthor in the DCU’s Superman reboot, and it seems like he’s been taking inspiration from many places. 

Speaking on the Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum podcast, the Renfield star said he’s been drawing particularly from All-Star Superman. The comic, which is a big inspiration for Gunn’s version of the Man of Steel as a whole, was written by Grant Morrison and features a whole host of villains, including Luthor.

"There’s that bit in All-Star Superman where he talks about his muscles being real and hard work and all that," Hoult shared on the podcast. "I kind of took that as a little bit of fuel for the fire." However, the actor was keen to point out that although he’s been working out, he doesn’t expect Luthor to have any shirtless scenes. 

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Hoult also shared that he’s taken inspiration from Michael Rosenbaum himself, who played the villain on Smallville. "The first ever Lex I saw was you," he shared. "Yeah, I grew up, Smallville was on. That was the show I would watch and see my first iterations of Superman and Lex and all those stories. I’ve since seen Richard Donner’s movies and all the other ones and kind of seen some of the other performances but you’re like the one… It’s the best."

Superman (formerly Superman: Legacy) is now filming and Gunn recently shared a snap from the cast reading featuring a bald Hoult. The director also shared a first look at David Corenswet’s new suit, and while we can’t see much, it’s enough to get us very excited about what this version of Clark Kent’s story will entail.

Superman is due to hit theaters on July 11, 2025. For more new superhero movies, check out our guide to all of the upcoming DC movies and shows, as well as our breakdown of what’s coming in Gunn’s DCU Chapter One.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.