In the Superman universe, Prof. Emil Hamilton has been seen both as a bumbling genius and as a paranoid menace. In the real universe, the same can be said for Richard Schiff. The West Wing actor has recently signed onto Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel as Hamilton—but the vision of the professor that Schiff will embody is still unclear.
Prof. Hamilton’s first appearance in the comic book series presented the character as a “mad scientist” sort of villain who lost his mind after Metropolis’ primary bad guy Lex Luthor stole all of his ingenious inventions. After a full mental health recovery, Hamilton was shown to be an ally of Superman’s, helping him solve various crimes with technological developments and scientific research.
However, Hamilton has also been shown, primarily in recent incarnations of the character, to be a figure who distrusts Superman and considers him a threat to the world. Considering the acting talent placed behind the role, I’d guess that Man of Steel is working towards this version of Hamilton, whose genius might be applied in cooperation with the resources of one of Superman’s more prominent villains (Luthor, most likely), to attack the superhero.