Superman’s arch nemesis.
While Superman is known as the man of steel and an all around Boy Scout.
Lex Luthor relies on his brains over brawn and is pretty much the farthest thing from a Boy Scout you can get.
One of my favorite things about comics are the villains.
Especially Villains like, the Joker and Lex Luthor.
Two villains that couldn’t be more opposite than their arch-enemies.
Luthor made his comic book debut in the April 1940 issue of Action Comics #23.
(Two years after Superman’s debut.)
In this issue he was only known as Luthor and it was implied that he died in the end. Which was common in the early issues where he appeared.
He reappears in Superman #4. In these appearances he has a full head of red hair.
Making him blad was a mistake credited to studio artist Leo Nowak, a reason for the mistake has been discussed but never answered.
In 1944, he was the first Comic Book character to use an Atomic Bomb. This story was delayed publication until 1946 after the United States Department of War (now known as the United States Department of Defense) got involved.
Luthor wasn’t seen in comics until the September 1957 issue of Superboy #59. He was mostly seen as a Mad-Scientist or Rouge Scientist. For example, in a 1960s Origin issue, Luthor lived in Smallville and befriended Superboy. Luthor saved him from Kryptonite and in return Superboy built him a laboratory. And as a thank you, Luthor decides to create a Kryptonite antidote but a fire erupts. Superboy uses his freezing breath which blows over chemicals, ruining some experiments and leaving Luthor bald.
They’ve been enemies ever since.
It wasn’t until 1986, that we got the Lex Luthor we know today.
John Byrne redesigned Luthor as a Villain people could recognize for the ’80s. He became an evil corporate executive. First overweight but he became thinner and sleeker. Instead of losing his hair in an accident, he’s seen naturally losing it overtime in the comics.
Marv Wolfman originally suggested the idea to John Byrne.
According to Wolfman, “I never believed the original Luthor. Every story would begin with him breaking out of prison, finding some giant robot in an old lab he hid somewhere, and then he’d be defeated. My view was if he could afford all those labs and giant robots he wouldn’t need to rob banks. I also thought later that Luthor should not have super powers. Every other villain had super powers. Luthor’s power was his mind. He needed to be smarter than Superman. Superman’s powers had to be useless against him because they couldn’t physically fight each other and Superman was simply not as smart as Luthor.”
Some Fun Facts:
Luthor doesn’t consider himself evil. He does things for the greater good of the world, even if many people don’t think his idea of good is actually “Good” for the world. Hence his personal mantra, “the ends always justify the means.” There was no better example of this than when in 2000 he ran and successfully became President of the United States.
Luthor’s company LexCorp, is one of Wayne Enterprises biggest competitors. And due to Bruce Wayne refusing to accept military contracts, LexCorp is worth much more. Though some dispute this, claiming that Bruce Wayne is personally worth more than Luthor.
Actor Gene Hackman, sounded like quite the handful while filming the 1978, Superman.
He first refused to shave off his mustache, which was cleverly solved when Director, Richard Donner promised to shave off his as well. (He didn’t have a mustache, he wore a fake one to fool Hackman.) Then Hackman refused to shave his head and wear a bald cap. Hair and Makeup fixed this by styling Hackman’s hair in different styles in order to give the illusion that he was wearing different hairpieces. There is only one scene in the film where he wears a skull-cap.
Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman both turned the role down, while Hackman was reluctant to accept considering it might hurt his image as a serious actor.
According to IMdb, in Superman II, “The scene when Lex Luthor escapes from the prison yard is inspired by true events. 3 IRA Prisoners escaped from Mountjoy prison when a helicopter lifted them out of the yard.”
At the end of Superman IV, Superman drops Lex Luthor off in Prison, when leaving he states, “See you in 20”. Coincidentally, the next time Superman and Lex Luthor appear in a Movie together was 19 years later in the 2006 film Superman Returns. (Which picks up where Superman II left off.)
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Is the 5th theatrical portrayal of Lex Luthor.
(4th time as Main Protagonist) This is the most of any Supervillain in any Superhero Franchise.
Second is William Stryker from X-Men with 5 appearances, twice as the main villain.
Third is the Joker, with 3 appearances, 2 as the main villain.
Lex Luthor never made an appearance on the original 1952 series, Adventures of Superman. Makes sense since he wasn’t as distinct back then.
Much like Harley Quinn being invented for Batman: the Animated Series. A character was invented for Superman. She’s not nearly as popular nor as spectacular as Harley but she is in the same vein. Lex Luthor needed a henchwoman and thus Mercy Graves was born.
I think I’ve kept you here long enough.
Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Lex Luthor!
Thank you for Reading!
See you tomorrow!