Harry Lennix, the actor who played General Swanwick in Man of Steel of Batman v Superman, recently revealed that he only learned of his character’s true identity as the Martian Manhunter when the fans did.
Lennix had an established career before Man of Steel, starring in such films as the Matrix sequels as Zion Military Commander Jason Lock and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis as Black Manta, but he has since become known for his role as General Swanwick in the DCEU.
With Swanwick’s appearance came speculation among fans that the General was really the green-skinned martian, J’onn J’onnz, in disguise. Though writers Zack Snyder and Chris Terrios eventually revealed that this conjecture was true, Lennix recently told the Lightcast Podcast that “the quick answer” to the question of Swanwick’s Martian heritage is “I don’t know that I’m Martian Manhunter now.”
He explained, ” No, I did not know that at the time or that it was even a possibility or that he [Zack Snyder] had that in the back of his mind.”
Lennix then offered his admiration, as a director of the stage, to Snyder’s secrecy, asserting that a director should know more than most at any given time and noting that production secrecy was also practiced by the writers on The Blackist, wherein Lennix played FBI Assistant Director of Counterterrorism Harold Cooper.
The actor-director also explored the distinction between what an actor knows and what a character is supposed to know, in terms of a given story. Lennix described how he likes to have much information as he can, which he finds presents a challenge that is equal parts frustrating and thrilling.
However, when it comes to the Manhunter, Lennix carries himself as if he still doesn’t have all the information regarding the character’s DCEU role, stating “Knowledge, typically speaking, is a good thing but not always a necessary thing,” and adding “But I don’t know that I’m Martian Manhunter.”
It’s hard to imagine that Lennix is unaware of the numerous teases Snyder has shared since 2018, but it seems that, for the time being, Lennix is waiting a more official confirmation.
“I’d be delighted and it would be another dream come true,” he confessed.
Lennix seems to act more evasive regarding his role as J’onn than he needs to, especially given that Snyder recently shared a graphic rendition of what J’onn’s alien form would look like if he made an appearance in the DCEU.
Though this concept art should have been enough to remove all doubts as to Swannick’s true identity, LightCast pressed Lennix on the Justice League storyboards, released by Snyder last year, which revealed the director’s plans for J’onn’s big reveal.
In response to these storyboards, Lennix disclosed that he had only learned of Snyder’s plans alongside the general audiences when the storyboards were made public, crediting the release of the behind-the-scenes concept work to the fans driving “this Snyder cut initiative.
“Fans are as responsible for that as anything,” he said, crediting persistent fan curiosity as the reason he “found out about it.”
Lennix may have known sooner if filming on Justice League went according to plan the first time, explaining that he had worked out a production schedule with his The Blacklist producers and booked his trip to London before ultimately finding that his scenes were cut and the script had been rewritten.
“I know that wasn’t Zack,” said Lennix. “I know that was a studio decision…it happens all the time.” He remarked studios and editors are the ultimate arbiters, adding director’s cuts are rare and entire careers have been figuratively left on the editing floor since the time of TV’s first Superman, George Reeves.
The Lightcast then showed Lennix the concept art previously revealed by Snyder, which has since been dubbed ‘Harry’ by fans, to which the actor joked that while it’s not really him, someone will inevitably alter the picture to make it resemble him.
As it seems Lennix is mostly oblivious to the greater Justice League fan-culture on the internet, it’s likely he’s unaware that the concept has already been done.
Questions submitted to Lightcast refer to the MM concept as “Harry” due to how closely Lennix is associated with the character now. He joked it’s not really him but someone will probably alter the picture digitally to make it resemble him – not that it hasn’t been done.
A fan-submitted questioned asked Lennix how he felt upon learning his role as Martian Manhunter from social media, to which he answered that he “was over the moon” and compared the revelation to a dream come true.
Lennix said he felt that experience only a few select times throughout his life, particularly when meeting his wife for the first time. He also admitted he was ecstatic that Zack Snyder didn’t deny it.
Lennix additionally revealed that he will not be reprising his role as Jason Lock for the Matrix 4 and that he had previously auditioned for Snyder’s 2000 remake of Dawn of the Dead, a film for which the actor gave kudos to Snyder for rethinking the zombie subgenre.
He also noted that he was a big fan of Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Superman, especially after having worked with the Clark Kent actor from the time he had his first screen test, stating “I think he is the ideal Superman.”
“When I saw, I was like ‘That’s Superman!” he exclaimed.
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