Warner Bros. zeroes in on the guy who'll play Batman/Superman villain

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Dec 18, 2013, 4:43 PM EST

A new report says that Warner Bros. Pictures has its sights set on an actor to play the main villain in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel. But who is the actor -- and what is the part?

Variety claims that the studio wants to snag Joaquin Phoenix to play the lead antagonist in the film, which does not yet have a title but has been referred to as Batman vs. Superman (among other things).

Sources have said that it's early in the process and that the actor has not even been formally offered the role yet. It's also up in the air whether he'd actually accept -- Phoenix tends to shy away from franchises and blockbusters. 

If he does accept, however, it's believed that he will be playing Lex Luthor, Superman's greatest nemesis. He'll join Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey as actors who have played the brilliantly evil scientist/industrialist on the big screen.

By the way, Phoenix is currently starring in Her, which opens today in New York and Los Angeles but will expand in January. It's about a divorced man in a future Los Angeles who falls in love with his new, sentient operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) -- and it's possibly the best science fiction film of the year.

You can get a look at Phoenix's performance in that while you mull over whether you think he'd make a good Lex Luthor. 

The untitled Man of Steel sequel, which stars Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman, opens on July 17, 2015.

Joaquin Phoenix