“Why am I not in Superman?”: Michael Rosenbaum Knows His Luthor Will Come to James Gunn’s DCU Under 1 Condition

The Smallville actor and the DCU’s Superman director have been longtime pals! 

Michael Rosenbaum, James Gunn
Credits: Wikimedia Commons / Gage


  • Michael Rosenbaum is well acclaimed for his role as Lex Luthor in the TV series, Smallville.
  • With the right call and pitch from his friend James Gunn, Rosenbaum expressed his excitement about making a comeback to the DC universe.
  • Nicholas Hoult will be assuming the role of Lex Luthor in Gunn’s ‘Superman’.
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Could it be time for a familiar face to soar once again through the DC universe? Michael Rosenbaum, whose turn as the infamous Lex Luthor earned him a legion of fans in Alfred Gough & Miles Millar’s iconic Smallville series, may just have the key to unlocking his return to James Gunn’s DCU—under one clear, heartfelt condition.


With a candid moment tinged with possibilities, Rosenbaum recently shared that he would be thrilled to play the incredibly complex villain, given the right pitch and call from his friend James Gunn. The Smallville series followed Clark (played by Tom Welling) as he learned about his Kryptonian ancestry and eventually underwent the training that would prepare him to become Superman. 

Michael Rosenbaum is well acclaimed for his role as Lex Luthor in the TV series, Smallville.
Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor in Smallville | Warner Bros. Television

Also, the series told the staggering tale of Lex Luthor and how, in hindsight, he came to be the Man of Steel’s greatest adversary.


What Will It Take for Michael Rosenbaum to Embrace the Luthor Role in James Gunn’s DCU?

Fans of the hit Smallville series were delighted when the news broke that James Gunn would be writing and directing a Superman reboot for the DC universe. But one question lingered in the minds of many: Why isn’t Michael Rosenbaum reprising his iconic role as Lex Luthor in Gunn’s Superman?

During a panel at ComicBook’s Nashville Comicon 2024, Rosenbaum addressed this burning question, revealing that he had actually posed the same question to his long-time pal, James Gunn. The actor, who played Lex Luthor across seven seasons of Smallville, expressed his willingness to return to the DC universe under one condition.

I’m always up for a challenge. I’m always up for fun. Whatever comes to me, I look at it, and if it’s not too silly, or if it makes me laugh, or I think I could do a really good job or I think I can make an impression, I’ll do it. 

With the right call and pitch from James Gunn, Michael Rosenbaum expressed his excitement about making a comeback to the DC universe.
Michael Rosenbaum played Lex Luthor in 7 seasons of Smallville | Warner Bros. Television

Rosenbaum, 51, who has portrayed Martinex in Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, made it clear that he would love to work with the director again. However, the actor acknowledged that the final say is up to the co-CEOs of DC Studios:


I asked him, ‘Why am I not in Superman? Why am I not in the movie somehow?’ It was fine, though. I wish him all the happiness. He deserves all the success he has. He’s enormously talented. When it’s the right thing, he’ll ask me. Or he won’t. And that’s aside from friendship. When your friends go off and do big things, you say, ‘Hey, they know I’m here. They know my number’. And you just hope for the best.

In other words, Gunn will ask Rosenbaum when the time is right. The actor is still holding out hope for a return, knowing that his friend has his “number” and will get in touch with him when the opportunity aligns.

As of now, Nicholas Hoult has been cast for the role of Lex Luthor in Superman, which stars David Corenswet as Clark Kent/Superman. 

Nicholas Hoult Shared His Inspiration for Playing Lex Luthor

While specifics about Superman are still being kept under wraps, Nicholas Hoult earlier revealed some of the inspiration he has drawn for his own interpretation of Lex Luthor. He named two of his motivations, in particular: the comic book series All-Star Superman and Smallville.

Nicholas Hoult
Nicholas Hoult in Renfield | Universal Pictures

In an interview with Michael Rosenbaum for his podcast Inside of You (via Collider), Hoult started by raving about the former’s portrayal of Lex Luthor in Smallville. The Renfield star gushed:

I grew up. I think the first ever Lex I saw was you. Yeah, I grew up when Smallville was on, I can’t remember if it was Channel 4 or Channel 5 in the UK, but like growing up. I was like 11, 12, I guess. 

Throughout the interview, Hoult repeatedly brought up the topic of Smallville to express his gratitude for Rosenbaum’s performance. The former continued, saying, 

You inhabit him with such depth and charm. And then, yeah, that ability to switch, which makes him dangerous and formidable and a great opponent. I just loved what you did.

In addition, Hoult also mentioned that he took inspiration for the character from the All-Star Superman series.


Speaking of the upcoming flick, David Corenswet will take Henry Cavill’s place in James Gunn’s DCU as Clark Kent/Superman. In addition to Corenswet, Rachel Brosnahan was revealed as the movie’s female lead, portraying Lois Lane, Superman’s romantic interest. 

Superman will hit theaters on July 11, 2025, while Smallville is streaming on Hulu.


Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1748

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1700 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.