Who is Lex Luthor? The Mastermind Who Defeats Superman
Lex Luthor is a supervillain in D.C. comics, most commonly associated with Superman. His real name is Alexander Joseph, and Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created him. In 1940 he first appeared in Action Comics No. 23.
As such, Lex Luthor is an ordinary human; he has no natural superpowers at all. As such, he sometimes dresses in a battle suit. Although he has almost always been seen as a supervillain, he sometimes represents an anti-hero.
Who is Alexander Joseph “Lex” Luthor?
Image: DC Comics
Lex Luthor is originally known for being a mad scientist. But, since 1980, he has been portrayed as a power-mad business tycoon. He has a multinational corporation, LexCorp, of which he is the CEO.
He wishes to rid mankind of Superman, considering him a threat. However, events have shown his envy of the superhero for his popularity and influence. Because of his high profile as a supervillain, he frequently conflicts with other superheroes in the D.C. universe, such as Batman.
This character is a human without superpowers but sometimes wears a suit and mechanized armor, giving him greater strength, flight, and other capabilities. While he is Superman’s greatest archenemy, he is sometimes portrayed as an anti-hero, allying himself with the superhero depending on the situation.
His origin story has changed several times. So, his current canonical origin is in Superman: Birthright. But in Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics restructured the character. He appeared as a Machiavellian industrialist and white-collar criminal who became President of the United States.
Image: DC Comics
One of Lex Luthor’s distinctive traits is his ego, regardless of whether he is portrayed as a businessman, mad scientist or both. He believes he has the right to popularity and power regardless of his incarnations.
In principle, each incarnation seeks the adoration of others as its goal as well as the control of Metropolis or Smallville, which rises to the control of the Earth and universal domination.
Also, he has a robust fixation on destroying Superman, always trying to humiliate and discredit the alien hero. Either by demonstrating his superiority by achieving victory without alien powers. Or by demonstrating that the superhero is motivated by selfish desire rather than altruism.
On several occasions, Luthor has stated that he could create a better way of life for the human race without Superman’s interference. Thus, he has argued that the presence of the Man of Tomorrow is a threat for not allowing them to solve their problems.
Luthor has been shown several times that Clark Kent is Superman. He has never believed such a fact, seeing him as an average man. This fact does not allow him to imagine that he can have so much power and pretend more than half of his time to be a man, as he finds it humiliating and impossible to do.
Lex Luthor was simply present in the Golden Age as an amoral and brilliant man. The desire for power drove him. This story changes markedly in the Silver Age where the character appears with a more developed backstory.
At this stage, Luthor is an aspiring teenage scientist residing in Smallville. He is a fan of Superboy (Kal-El). After this superhero is saved from Kryptonite by Luthor, he creates his own private laboratory for him in gratitude.
After thousands of experiments, Luthor had worked very hard and managed to create an artificial life of “primitive protoplasm”. Accidentally, in the ecstasy of such a discovery, he spills a chemical and starts a fire.
Superboy manages to extinguish the fire but inadvertently spills a chemical, destroying the research notes for his creation. In addition, Luthor loses his hair from the chemical fumes.
This leads Luthor to believe that Superboy had acted in bad faith, intentionally sabotaging his work. He thus vows revenge. Therefore, he devotes himself to creating great engineering inventions to prove his superiority, leading him to pursue him indefinitely to put him to death.
In this stage, Lex Luthor is shown in the facet of retirement. For this, Luthor returns to Lexor, learning that he has a son with Andora; Lex Luthor Jr. Spends the next few weeks with his new family.
As time passes, he discovers that Lexor suffers the same instabilities as Krypton. He sets out to build a “Neutrarod” tower to stabilize the planet’s core.
Along the way, because of his pathological hatred for Superman, he reflects on feeling dissatisfied with having a life without conflict. So, he digs up his ancient, high-tech subway laboratory to threaten the Earth.
To do so, he makes use of one of his still-active satellites. This concludes with Superman going to Lexor to present Luthor to the Earth authorities. A special, highly destructive, flight-capable suit is prepared with the lab’s resources.
Thus, Luthor and Superman begin a confrontation with Lexor. But Luthor accidentally overloads the Neutrarod, destroying his planet and its inhabitants, including his family.
Unable to process the pain, as he did when he destroyed his lab in Smallville, he does not accept his responsibility. Blocking part of his memory, he blames the superhero for this act. Thus he renews his thirst for revenge.
Image: DC Comics
In Post-Crisis, Lex Luthor is presented as a corrupt businessman who profits from his multiple criminal operations. These changes followed The Man of Steel and Superman: Secret Origin.
The story shown is that of a child raised in poverty next to Perry White. He intentionally caused the death of his adoptive parents to inherit their life insurance. In this way, he creates a better life for himself, forming LexCorp.
He marries and divorces several times, desiring an affair with Lois Lane. Luthor takes advantage of a terrorist attack to see Superman in action, trying to capture him to be his employee.
What he got was to be arrested by the Man of Steel. Who, acting as a special deputy of Metropolis, takes him into custody for endangering people and not warning of the terrorist attack.
Luthor feels humiliated and swears revenge against the superhero. To do so, he tells Superman of his criminal plans, failing to bring him to justice again because he does not have sufficient evidence.
In his obsession, he begins to investigate Superman, gathering information about him and his associates. To do so, he uses software to analyze what he collects. He discovers that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person. But he ignores these results because he finds them impossible to believe.
Lex Luthor, President of the United States
Lex Luthor decided to dedicate himself to politics and thus became the President of the United States. His campaign was successful, aimed at using a platform of promoting technological progress.
Luthor’s first government action was to bring a moratorium on fossil fuels to the U.S. Congress. At that time, Luthor uses the Kryptonite ring, for which he is threatened by Batman, having to choose between the White House or that ring.
Then, Superman, Lois Lane and Batman try to steal the ring but are thwarted. It was all a ruse; Luthor kept a fake, while Batman kept the real ring.
In order to assume the presidential office, he must cut ties with his company LexCorp. Taking over the board of directors is Talia Head, who is the daughter of the leader of the international terrorist cult Ra’s al Ghul. Who is one of Batman’s greatest enemies?
In this way, there is a confrontation between Luthor and Batman, ending with the murder of his lover Vesper Fairchild, framing Wayne in this fact. This is how he discovers that Wayne is Batman. After some time, he discovers that Clark Kent is Superman.
Lex Luthor Revised Backstory
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After the publication of Superman: Birthright from 2003 – 2004, all the known history of Luthor is altered, referencing a new canon in Superman comics and the Superman/Batman series.
This new story shows Luthor only slightly older than Clark Kent. His family moves to Smallville as a teenager. After being taunted and perhaps abused by his father, Lionel, because of his intelligence, he only manages to befriend Clark.
But, despite being shown as a good friend of the superhero, he ends up being one of his worst enemies. When he discovers Kryptonite meteorites, he uses the radioactive mineral as an energy source for his experiments.
Upon seeing his machine’s creation, Clark is helpless, and Luthor mistakes his reaction for envy. The machine explodes, and Luthor survives but loses his hair. Blaming Clark for everything that happened and developing a deep hatred.
Lex Luthor’s Powers and Abilities
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Lex Luthor does not possess metahuman powers, being a normal adult human. But, throughout history, he has been described as having superior intelligence, the most intelligent human in the D.C. Universe. In fact, one of the most intelligent beings on any planet.
His memory is eidetic, and he has seemingly mastered all known forms of science. This includes computer science, biochemistry, robotics, space travel, extra-dimensional travel, synthetic polymers, mutations, communications, holography, transportation, power generation, time travel and spectral analysis.
Generally speaking, Luthor sees no opponent worthy of being intellectually on a par with him, except in two cases, Brainiac and sometimes Batman. His genius does not remain only in the domain of these sciences; it also extends to business. In fact, he is one of the richest people in the world.
He has also ventured into politics, becoming President of the United States. Often, it is he who leads the supervillain groups to which he has belonged because of his extensive capabilities.
The character has demonstrated extensive melee training, specifically in the art of Karate. And, on some occasions, she has been trained by the Amazons of Themyscira.
Throughout her career, she has dabbled in and developed alien technology. Also developing various weapons, robots and highly advanced machines. All in order to carry out their destructive plans against their enemies.
Lex Luthor Appearances in Other Media
Image: Warner Bros.
Lex Luthor’s appearances include:
In television, there have been several television series where the character has been present, such as animated series, such as:
- Superboy. Luthor is a rich college student who Scott James Wells plays.
- Lois & Clark. Luthor’s character is shown as a middle-aged philanthropist and polymath. Actor John Shea plays him.
- Smallville. Luthor is presented as a great friend of Clark’s, destined to be his worst enemy. Michael Rosenbaum plays him.
- Supergirl. Series that came out in 2018, and it was announced Luthor would appear in the fourth season.
- Titans. Luthor played by Page Novak, portrays his childhood.
- The new adventures of Superman. The series consists of ten episodes covering three seasons.
- Super Friends. Luthor is a villain played by Stanley Jones.
- Superman. Luthor appears as a corrupt businessman; Michael Bell plays him.
In the D.C. Animated Universe, he has been in:
- Superman: The Animated Series.
- Justice League.
- Justice League Unlimited.
- The Batman.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
- Young Justice.
- Justice League Action.
- D.C. Super Hero Girls.
- Harley Quinn.
Among animated films, Lex Luthor appears in:
- Superman: Brainiac Attacks.
- Superman: Doomsday.
- Justice League: The New Frontier.
- Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
- Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.
- All-Star Superman.
- Lego Batman: The Movie – D.C. Super Heroes Unite.
- D.C. League of Super-Pets.
- In all the Superman movies he appears, except Superman III.
In the D.C. Extended Universe films is Luthor in:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- Justice League.
In video games, Lex Luthor appears as a playable character in:
- Superman 64.
- Mortal Kombat vs. D.C. Universe.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Batman: Arkham Knight.
Engineer, Philanthropist and Criminal
Image: DC Comics
Lex Luthor is one of D.C.’s best villains. His character was ranked fourth on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time list. He was also ranked eighth in Wizard’s 100 Greatest Villains of All Time.
Several actors have played this character on television. Among them are Michael Rosenbaum, John Shea, Scott James Wells, Sherman Howard and Jon Cryer.
Several films have featured actors Gene Hackman, Lyle Talbot, Jesse Eisenberg and Kevin Spacey. So, a new Superman movie developed by James Gunn will be released soon. And in this case, there are strong rumors that Nicholas Hoult will play the role.
Featured Image Via DC Comics