Last two appointments with casualgamer‘s request, at least until something new surfaces. Today, we’re speaking of Lex Luthor, recently confirmed to be in the roster for Injustice: Gods Among Us. Being Superman‘s nemesis, Lex has had quite a number of appearances, from the very first one in Atom Man vs. Superman in which he was portrayed by Lyle Talbot. Gene Hackman portrayed some sort of comedic version of the character in three of the four movies starring Christopher Reeve, and Kevin Spacey took up the villain’s mantle in the not-exactly-a-sequel Superman Returns. In television, Lex has been an arrogant college student in Superboy (portrayed by Scott James Wells) and a scheming and ambiguous billionaire in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, where John Shea portrayed one of the few non-bald versions of the character. Michael Rosenbaum made a great job with Lex in Smallville, finally giving the dark, brilliant villain from the comics some justice. Let’s see who Lex really is.
Luthor’s story has been rebooted many times: he’s been Alexis Luthor, a simple farmer born and raised near Smallville who turned from being Superboy‘s greatest fan to be his greatest enemy because the hero accidentally destroyed his lab and made him completely bald; he’s been also Alexei Luthor, a criminal mastermind who controlled many Europeans states and brought them to World War II. We’re going to ignore these previous incarnations, and to speak only of Alexander Joseph Luthor, Lex for friends, if he had any. Lex was born a poor boy in Metropolis ill-reputed area called Suicide Slum. He always had looked with disdain at his abusive father and his weak mother, and, since a very young age, he decided he would have made a reason of life to become better than they were. He used to be friends with Perry White, another poor boy from the Slums, and the two helped each other in finding small jobs to raise up some money. When he was just seventeen, Lex took out a large life insurance in his parents’ name, and, not so much time later, he engineered their death, making everyone believe they died in a household accident. With the money taken from the insurance, Lex founded his own company, LexCorp, and in a few years, with his incredible intelligence and his business instinct, he transformed it in a powerful multinational, which came to control the entire Metropolis. LexCorp came to absorb almost every media in Metropolis, using them to raise his own popularity and hide some illegal deeds of his company; only one newspaper was left out of his media empire: Daily Planet, whose young editor in chief, the same Perry White he used to spend his childhood days with, became his main and only critic. In retaliation, Luthor economically attacked the Planet, which almost failed, and also slept with Perry’s wife, Alice, making her believe Perry was dead, and living her consuming herself in guilt when he came back from his travel abroad, almost destroying his former friend’s marriage. In no time, Lex Luthor became the lord of Metropolis, both in the legal world, controlling every industry, distribution chain, media or public service, and the illegal one, being the secret master of the underworld criminality; he managed nevertheless to mantain a public appearance of philantropist, gaining popularity the more he strangled the city. Everything was about to change with the arrival of a certain alien…
Superman suddenly arrived in Metropolis, changing everything. In no time, he demolished Luthor’s underworld criminal empire, saved many of his adversaries from certain death, mined the basis of his very power. Determined to have the alien for himself, like everything else in Metropolis, Lex organized a society gala on his yacht, and hired some terrorists to attack it, in order to personally meet Superman. The hero arrived and stopped the attack, and Lex took the occasion to ask him if he wanted to become his personal bodyguard, with an incredible wage. Superman clearly refused, and more, he proved that Luthor knew about the terrorist attack and didn’t do anything to prevent it in order to meet him; he then proceeded to arrest Lex, under a direct order from Mayor Berkowitz, and, even if Luthor avoided prison thanks to his lawyers, his public image was compromised. From that day, with the humilation burning inside of him, he swore to himself that he would have destroyed Superman. With the years, he developed a personal grudge against the hero: Luthor had worked hard all his life to become the best, while Superman was born with the most incredible powers world had ever seen, something he saw as a plain injustice. He tried with every means possible to kill Superman: using his unlimited capital and a genius level intellect, he used the hero’s DNA to create a clone, which would have proved to be imperfect and uncontrollable; he used Kryptonite, the only known substance able to damage Superman, in many ways, from creating a cyborg, Metallo, powered by a Kryptonite heart and fueled with hate towards Superman, to forging a Kryptonite ring, which made Superman unable to get near him. Lex Luthor also became President of the United States of America, after regaining his lost popularity through acts of philantropism, always managing to hide his obsession from the public eye, and taking back most of his power.
Lex Luthor is a megalomaniac, greedy, arrogant and possessive man, whose reason of life is to make everyone in the world recognize that he is the best specimen of the human genre ever born on the planet. He is possibly the most intelligent and brilliant man on Earth, but always used his genius for personal, and most of the times criminal, achievements, which usually concern his obsession in besting Superman. He has built many technological devices that help him in his personal war against Superman, first of all his Warsuit, built on Apokolips, with which he’s able to directly fight Superman on even ground. Luthor is also a skilled combatant and martial artist, who managed to give a hard time even to fighters such as Batman and Nightwing, but his most formidable and dangerous trait is surely his incredible intellect, which knows no limits but his own hatred.