Lex Luthor is the son of Lionel and Letitia Luthor, wealthy residents of Metropolis. As a teenager, he spent years in Smallville, with his Aunt Lena. There he encountered Clark Kent and first became jealous of Superman.
Lex Luthor was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1940, first appearing in Action Comics #23.
Lex (Alexei) Luthor made his first appearance as a power hungry criminal mastermind who first tested his genius against the Man of Steel in Action Comics #23. Displayed as a man with red hair, it would be until an accident that Luthor's character was mistaken for Superman's main enemy the Ultra-Humanite and was displayed as a bald mad scientist. From there on Alexei Luthor would be seen as a villain who's a power mad scientist who tested his science against the might of Superman.
At first, Luthor intended to plunge all of the European countries into war starting with the small countries of Galonia and Toran, and used his scientific genius to sabotage a peace conference, but would face his first defeat by Superman. Throughout Luthor's earliest career, he would find himself committing acts of terrorism in order to find ways to accomplish his goals for world domination, only to find each of his plans foiled by Superman.
Luthor later plagued Kal-L with a gigantic Kryptonite meteor after learning about Superman's weakness from Dan Rivers. Unable to defeat Superman, Alexei took solace in publicly revealing Superman's weakness to the world, causing trouble for Kal-L from other various foes. Alexei would return time and time again with elaborate plans to kill Superman, but was defeated each time.
Luthor is a complex man. While he freely admits to being 'evil', he considers Abraham Lincoln to be a 'great man' (Superboy #85). Furthermore, Luthor has on occasion performed acts of great nobility, such as saving the lives of millions on a dying world for which he is considered a hero there (Superman #164).
Later in his career, Alexei would learn of the Multiverse and teamed up with his Earth-One counterpart Lex Luthor in an attempt to conquer Earth-Three. Recruiting Earth-Three's primary villain, Ultraman (an evil counterpart to their Supermen) to aid them in conquering Earth-Three, Alexei and Lex Luthor were defeated by their own Earth-Three counterpart, Alexander Luthor, who became Earth-Three's first and only super-hero.
Alexei would continue on his private quest for world domination of Earth-Two until he was recruited by Brainiac during The Crisis on Infinite Earths. In Issue # 9 Upon confronting Lex Luthor, who had been selected over him by Brainiac as field commander of their amassed gathering, Alexei stated to all present,
"I'm better than that labrat! You don't need two Luthors!"
Brainiac immediately agreed, and disintegrated Alexei Luthor on the spot, leaving Lex the only Luthor present. Following the end of the Crisis, Alexei Luthor was eliminated from history, and is no longer remembered by anyone on New Earth.
Lex Luthor grew up in the suburbs of Smallville, Kansas with his parents and sister, Lena. Although forced to live the life of a farmer's son, he never acquired a farmer’s heart. Instead, Luthor's lifelong ambition was to become the world's greatest scientist.
As a teenager, Luthor learned about the existence of Smallville's own hometown hero –Superboy. He followed Superboy's adventures with great zeal and soon became the young Kryptonian's greatest fan. Through excessive compulsion and pleading, Lex was able to convince his parents to move to Smallville in order to allow Lex to be close to his hero.
One day, Luthor was plowing a field in his tractor when he noticed Superboy's limp form wavering in front of him. The Boy of Steel had found himself in close proximity to deadly green Kryptonite, so Luthor moved the rock to a safe distance with his tractor. Afterward, Luthor invited Superboy back to his workshop. Superboy found a veritable shrine erected in his honor, with walls and benches decorated with various souvenirs from Superboy's many exploits. To show his gratitude, Superboy constructed a brand new state-of-the art laboratory for the eager would-be scientist.
With the new lab equipment at his disposal, Luthor set about experimenting with his many chemical solutions. He even created a non-sentient protoplasmic entity out of some of the more rare chemicals that Superboy provided him. Using the protoplasm as a template, Luthor sought to create an antidote to Kryptonite poisoning. It was his intention to present the antidote to Superboy as a gift, as a means of solidifying their friendship. He succeeded in creating the antidote, but in his excitement, he knocked over a beaker, which set the laboratory ablaze.
Superboy flew past the lab and noticed smoke pouring out of the windows. Noticing that Luthor had exposed Kryptonite in the lab, Superboy remained outside and quickly decided to extinguish the fire in the lab with a gust of his super-breath which would put out the fire and remove the Kryptonite to a safe distance. Superboy successfully extinguished the fire, but the blast accidentally mixed various chemicals together that destroyed all of Luthor's experiments. These gases passed onto Luthor's head, destroying his hair and left him completely bald. Enraged at the devastation of his work and his personal appearance, Luthor accused Superboy of destroying his experiments on purpose out of jealousy. From that moment onward, Lex Luthor became the sworn enemy of Superboy.
Lex soon began acting on his criminal impulses to attack Superboy with his ever-increasing array of weapons and devices. But despite their fearsome powers, Superboy always managed to defeat Lex and send him to the Smallville Juvenile Detention Center. Fearing that their son would never reform his ways, Lex's parents decided to move away from Smallville and changed their last name to "Thorul" in hopes to raise their daughter Lena Thorul in a relatively peaceful life away from the evil Lex. Despite this name change, Lex would later find his sister and find some sort of reconciliation with her and her children despite his evil nature.
Luthor continued in his plans to dominate the Earth and known universe even during the Crisis on Infinite Earths where he once again teamed up with his known ally, Brainiac, who had by this time adopted a more robotic form. It would be at this time that he would witness the death of his Earth-Two counterpart Alexei who dared to challenge Brainiac's and Lex's ambitions. Lex and the surviving villains would once again decide to side with the heroes temporarily when the Anti-Monitor resurfaced after being nearly killed by the efforts of the Flash (Barry Allen) and Supergirl who were both killed by the Anti-Monitor.
Lex survived the Crisis but was destroyed and succeeded by a new being in the new universe which was seemingly a composite of all the previous primary versions of Luthor -- minus of course the Earth-Three Alexander's truly heroic heart -- as a ruthlessly dangerous and successful business tycoon who tries on numerous occasions to marry his native incarnation of Lois Lane.
For his parents, one look at their son's I.Q. test results was enough to convince them that he would make them wealthy. Their determination for him to excel however, helped to destroy his soul and create a sociopath. Lex spent years searching for extraterrestrial life and as part of his hunt went to Smallville, Kansas when he was 18. While there, Lex befriended another alienated young man, Clark Kent (Superman). When a fire destroyed his laboratory and his scientific achievements, he refused to take any of the blame. Instead he blamed the people of Smallville for "letting the Luthors burn." To this day, he refuses to acknowledge he has ever been to Smallville.
Major Story Arcs
The Rise of Lex Luthor
Years later, Lex appeared in Metropolis and built his technology company, Lexcorp. The company grew by leaps and bounds. With financial success comes political power and soon Luthor was considered to be the most powerful man in Metropolis. Then came the day when the people looked beyond Luthor's skyscraper to see a man in the skies above. With the arrival of Superman, Luthor's world was turned upside-down. Superman openly accused Lex of his criminal behavior, shattering the humanitarian image Lex had created. Luthor was unable (or unwilling) to link the "meddling alien" with the boy he knew years before.
Luthor tried many times to end the "alien menace", but was thwarted by Superman every time. Lex even fashioned a ring from Kryptonite to use. The constant exposure to Kryptonite radiation gave Lex cancer. It was so bad that Lex had his hand removed and replaced with a robotic prosthetic. Things got so bad for Lex that he eventually faked his death and had his brain transferred to a healthy clone body. He assumed the role of his own, hitherto unknown, heir going by the name Lex Luthor II. He even talked with an Australian accent and had a full beard and long red hair. As the younger Lex he convinced the world that he was a different man and not capable of the kind of crimes his father was accused of.
Lex later convinced the Supergirl Matrix to be a hero of Metropolis and a personal body guard. He also created a force of Lex Troopers (Team Luthor) to be heroes of Metropolis. He also would resume his battle with Superman with the same lack of success. Lex even sent Supergirl and his Lex Troopers to fight Doomsday when Doomsday attacked Metropolis and killed Superman.
In the aftermath of Superman's apparent death, Lex planned on replacing Superman with a clone. Unable to clone all of Superman's DNA he used some of his own and gave the clone powers that mimicked Superman's. Unfortunately for Lex the clone was released as a teenager by the Newsboy Legion. The clone would take up the mantle of Superman until the real Superman returns, when he then adopts the name of Superboy. It would be a long time before Superboy would discover he has Luthor DNA. When Lois Lane would eventually expose Luthor's criminal dealings, He then showed his true colors when he triggered explosive devices throughout the city. Metropolis was virtually destroyed by the explosions. Superman and his fellow heroes helped in the reconstruction and the battle between them continued.
Realizing the need to silence his detractors in the fourth estate, Luthor bought the Daily Planet and sold it to Perry White. The sale came with a string, that Lois killed one story of his choosing. Feeling safe from exposure, Luthor ran for President of the United States to gain the power to bring Superman down. He served the U.S.'s interests surprisingly well, forging links with Atlantis and Russia and rallying troops for the Imperiex Invasion. However, unknown to the public and probably most of his administration, Lex also forged ties to Apokolips which had been outlawed on a UN level. As a payment for Darkseid siding with Earth during the Imperiex war Luthor had the Joker unleash Doomsday for Superman to fight and detain as a product demonstration before handing him over to Darkseid.
The tenacious Lois found out that Luthor had known about the threat from Imperiex much earlier than stated. This was the article Luthor tried to kill, however Lois gave her notes to Clark who produced a scathing report. Luthor once again overplayed his hand, as his success at framing Bruce Wayne for the murder of Vesper Fairchild caused him to get arrogant. Even with his Presidential power, Luthor could not bring an end to Superman. When a Kryptonite asteroid was discovered headed towards Earth, Luthor tried to use that to turn the public against Superman. He even sent heroes to arrest him, including John Stewart, Black Lightning, Starfire, Power Girl and Captain Atom. With the help of Batman, the scheme was thwarted.
In desperation, he used a variant combination of the "super-steroid" Venom (a steroid mainly used by Batman villain Bane), liquid synthetic green Kryptonite, and an Apokaliptian battle-suit to battle Superman directly. Unfortunately, the madness that is a side effect of Venom took hold, and he revealed his true colors during the battle. The final straw was the revelation that Talia Head, the acting CEO of LexCorp, had sold all the company assets to the Wayne Foundation. He has since gone underground, leaving the presidency to his vice president, Pete Ross. During his time underground, Luthor contacted Robin over the internet under the alias Snapdragon and sent a Cadmus genetic file on Superboy, revealing for the first time that Superboy was a hybrid clone of Superman's DNA and Luthor's.
One Year Later and Countdown
One year after the events of Infinite Crisis, Luthor has been cleared of over 120 criminal counts ranging from malfeasance to first-degree murder relating to the New Year's Eve massacre from 52. However, his role in the massacre has permanently ruined his public image and thanks to the machinations of Doctor Sivana, he has lost most of his wealth and all of his control over his newly reformed LexCorp, which is now being run by Lana Lang. He blames Clark Kent for writing several articles unraveling his schemes and pledges vengeance on Metropolis after an angry mob jeers him on the courthouse steps.
After amassing large quantities of Kryptonite, including kidnapping the supervillains Metallo and the Kryptonite Man, Lex uses it to power a Kryptonian battleship controlled through a "sunstone" crystal. Superman manages to destroy the Kryptonite-powered ship and recover the crystal, but Lex manages to escape custody yet again.
Lex later sends Bizarro after the newly arrived "Superboy" only for the creature to be defeated by Superman. Undaunted, Luthor gathers together a new Revenge Squad to fight against invading Kryptonians led by General Zod.
In JLA, Luthor (alongside Joker and Cheetah III) gathers together a new "Injustice League" and, outfitted in a new version of his warsuit (although still green and purple, it no longer has clear design derivations from the pre-Crisis warsuit as the McGuinness design did), sets out to destroy the Justice League with them. On a related note during this section, he was responsible for creating the third Shaggy Man and the third Blockbuster.
Luthor plays a large role in the Countdown to Final Crisis tie-in event, Salvation Run. Having been sent to the prison planet after his Injustice League was defeated, Lex quickly assumes control of the amassed villains, receiving competition only from Joker and Gorilla Grodd, who convince half of the villains to join them. He does fight the Joker until the battle was interrupted by an attack by Desaad's Parademons.
After the attack, Luthor manages to get the villains off the planet with a makeshift teleporter, secretly powered byNeutron, Heatmonger, Plasmus, Warp and Thunder and Lightning. When called a "monster" by Thunder, Luthor claims it is the ones who sent them there who are the real monsters, and that he is the hero. He later sets the teleporter to self-destruct after he uses it, killing the attacking Parademons, and his living batteries.
In Justice League of America #21, Luthor can be seen associating with Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains and placed in its Inner Circle. Lex Luthor wanted Libra to prove himself, so Libra sends Clayface to blow up the Daily Planet building. As Lex attempts to ambush Libra after learning that he is a prophet of Darkseid, Lex soon ends up surrounded by Justifiers. Libra tells Lex to make a final choice ... swear an oath to Darkseid or become a mindless slave. In Final Crisis #5, Lex Luthor is seen when Libra blames Calculator for cracking the computer codes that will help the resistance. Lex Luthor is silent on the matter, but has been picked to lead the rearguard action against the heroes at Blüdhaven. He assumes it's an honor, but he doesn't look very pleased. During Final Crisis #6, Libra figures out Luthor had been the mole in the Society of Supervillains. Luthor, in league with Doctor Sivana, seemingly destroys Libra and overturns the Anti-Life Equation being broadcast into the Justifiers' helmets.
Luthor ended up imprisoned for his crimes, but rather than going to jail, General Sam Lane had him serve out his sentence working for the secretive Project 7734. While still forced to wear chains, Luthor was assigned the job of accessing the knowledge stored within the captured Brainiac who had recently been defeated by Superman (as seen during the Brainiac storyline). Luthor successfully accessed Brainiac’s brain and after Metallo and Reactron were taken to Kandor as prisoners of the Kryptonians who had now settled on Earth, he used Brainiac to reactivate the Coluan’s ship that was also being held in Kandor. Brainiac’s robots attacked the Kryptonians, providing a distraction as Metallo and Reactron used their Kryptonite hearts to kill their captors and murder Zor-El.
After his success with Brainiac, Luthor was given the seemingly dead body of Doomsday, who had been defeated by the Kryptonians, to study as it had “potential”. Luthor later manages to use Brainiac's connection to his ship to kill the soldiers assigned to watch him. Brainiac manages to free himself from Luthor's control, forcing him on board the ship, and the two make their escape.The two are later shown to have entered into an alliance, with Brainiac promising Luthor the Earth when he is done with it. While reading newspapers to catch up on what happened during his imprisonment, Luthor learns of the resurrection of Superboy.
During Blackest Night, Ganthet summons a ring from each of the corps leaders, Larfleeze's ring finds Lex Luthor. With the ring saying that he wants it all, Lex Luthor becomes an Orange Lantern. Although Lex does prove a good fighter in the Blackest Night, the orange light of avarice gets the better of him on many occasions and he even steals Scarecrow's Yellow Power Ring so that he may use it himself. He also steals the Orange Power Battery away from Larfleeze to gain even more power, until Wonder Woman uses her Lasso of Truth to restrain him. Whilst under the Lasso's influence, Lex admits a secret of his, saying that ultimately, all he's ever wanted was to be Superman.
After the Black Lanterns are defeated, and the deceased Black Lantern superhumans come back to life, Larfleeze manages to remove Lex's Orange Power Ring and render him back to his human self. In Brightest Day, Lex Luthor is given the orange power ring by Larfleeze after Luthor tells him that every person on Earth wants power and land.
Brightest Day - The Black Ring
After the New Krypton story, Luthor becomes the lead role in Action Comics and will be the lead role until the Action Comics #900. In the time he is the lead role in Action Comics, Deathstroke and his team of Titans are hired to kill Lex Luthor while he is visiting Midway City with Nava Mendelsohn. When Deathstroke's Titans attack Luthor, he and Nava go to the sewers but moments after that is shown that Nava is shot and after that is even revealed that Luthor paid the Titans for a fake attempt against him. After that is seen that Nava's wounds have been healed and actually she has been replaced by a shapeshifter called Facade. Her mission has been to be close to Luthor so she can kill him. After a fight against her, Deathstroke and Osiris are able to defeat her and after that is shown how Lex makes some experiments with her.
While searching for the energy of the Black Lantern simultaneously dispatching various Doomsday 'clones' created from the original to distract Earth's heroes by sending them after the other members of the Superman family with the aid of a robotic duplicate of Lois Lane created to give him an honest opinion on his actions, Luthor encountered Brainiac in space while attempting to alter the last of the Black Lantern energy, acting upon an unspoken theory of his. Brainiac revealed that Loisbot was an unwilling pawn in his bid to hijack Luthor's quest. Luthor then replied that he had anticipated this for some time, and he then attacked Brainiac and snapped his neck, temporarily incapacitating him. Loisbot pleaded for Lex's forgiveness, and he accepted her apology. However, after he altered the four remaining black spheres, he opened a Phantom Zone portal which unleashed an extremely powerful, monstrously large being which prepared to kill all life in the universe, because the negative emotions of sentient creatures hurt it. Luthor promptly impaled Loisbot's head, allowing himself to be infected with Kryptontian technology which he used to engage the monster on a mental plane of existence. Grappling with the creature, Luthor's body and mental essence suddenly fused with it, learning that it evolved in the Phantom Zone and now seeks to escape from the grief and anger of the Zone prisoners. Using his new power, Luthor draws Superman to him, attempting to drive Superman mad by forcing him to experience the human emotions that he believes the alien merely fakes to blend in. However, Luthor is outraged when he learns that Superman's defining moment of tragedy is the loss of his father. Luthor is unable to cope with the fact that not only was his greatest enemy raised by humans, but he also had a father he would actually mourn rather than the anguish Luthor endured in his own relationship with his father. As Luthor becomes one with the creature, Superman and Mr. Mind who has been aiding Luthor's search realize that the creature allows Luthor to create a feeling of peace and bliss throughout the entire universe, at the cost of never allowing him to cause any harm to another being at the same time. Superman attempts to appeal to Luthor about the potential of doing something even he never accomplished, but Luthor is unable to let go of his hate for Superman, costing him control of the entity as well as his memory of everything he learned or did while he was merged with it and it departs for another part of the universe. Luthor is ultimately defeated when he falls into one of the Phantom Zone holes created by the creature, seemingly forever.
After Flashpoint Lex Luthor is hired by the government to take down Superman. LexCorp also exists. He is hired by General Sam Lane to capture Superman in his early years. He sets up a trap for Superman with a train. Superman barely stops it and is left unconscious. Lex collects him and puts him through a lot of tests and experiments. Lex Luthor is later revealed to have obtained contact with the Collector through unknown means and was told to say the word "Krypton" to Superman. He later appears when the Collector abducts New Troy as one of the residents in the area. He along with Lois and Jimmy go into Glen Glenmorgan's hotel where Lex calls the Collector and it is revealed that Lex had made a deal with him. It is later revealed that Lex Luthor was the secret caller named "Icarus" that was giving information on Glen Glenmorgan to Clark Kent. After he gets fired from General Sam Lane he creates his own project with the two stolen kryptonite rocks. He creates the Kryptonite Man but that also doesn't work as well as planned.
Set one year before the ongoing continuity, Lex Luthor arranges the illegal smuggling of war machines in Qurac. Knowing that Superman would intervene, Luthor laces the weapons with kryptonite and nanite technology in order to acquire a sample of Superman's DNA in order to create a monster based on the genetic structure of Superman known as the Hybrid. As Superman seemingly defeats the monster with his ice-breath, it is later found out that the Hybrid is attacking Metropolis - whilst also having infected civilians with a virus (that was carried by Superman when he in turn was infected by poison from his earlier tussle with the war machines), as Luthor had intended. The plan by Luthor was to show the people of Metropolis that Superman is indeed an alien menace, and only Lex can save them from the Man of Steel. The final confrontation between Kal-El and Lex, of course resulting in the defeat of Lex, was, chronologically, the first fight between two of DC's most famous characters.
After the events of Trinity War, the Crime Syndicate has defeated the Justice League and wreaked havoc upon the world. While riding a helicopter into Metropolis, the entire city and the helicopter suddenly lose power and crashes into the Lexcorp tower. Luthor then witnesses a figure whom he mistakes as Superman suddenly flying and crashing into the building. The figure is revealed to be Ultraman of the Crime Syndicate. Ultraman's powers are powered by Kryptonite (an obvious play on Superman's own weakness to Kryptonite with Ultraman being Superman's evil doppelganger from Earth-3). He finds a stash of Kryptonite and proceeds to crush and inhale it.
Luthor also witnesses the unmasking of Nightwing and the reveal of his identity as Dick Grayson on a broadcast the Crime Syndicate put out to the world but notes that he has no idea who Dick Grayson is.
Luthor then notices a figure pushing the moon in front of the sun, the figure is Ultraman and it is revealed that Ultraman is harmed by the ray's of the sun (a stark contrast to Superman who gets much of his power from the sun) Luthor sits in dismay as exclaiming "This is a job for Superman. So where the hell is he?"
Lex Luthor traverses through the dark and powerless Lexcorp building, he stumbles along with a security guard as Luthor finds his Subject B-Zero experiment (Bizarro) whom Luthor exclaims needs another five years to be completed. He decides he has no other choice but to release Bizarro and tests the creatures obedience out by ordering it to murder the security guard. Luthor eventually meets up with other villains such as Black Manta, Captain Cold and Black Adam and they form a team in order to combat the Crime Syndicate.
While traversing through the sewers in order to reach a Wayne Enterprises storage facility with the other villains, Luthor notices that Bizarro is reluctant to move ahead due to his fear of the dark. Luthor attempts to comfort Bizarro by telling him about how when he was younger his sister had fallen ill but he was too afraid of the fear of failing to try and save her. Luthor states that his sister died shortly afterwards and that he told himself that he would never again let the fear of failure from stopping him, this inspires Bizarro to move on, much to the surprise of Luthor.
When the team finally reach the storage facility, they have an encounter with Batman and Catwoman, but their encounter is interrupted when Power Ring and his own group of villains attack the facility. Luthor and Batman are both forced to fight alongside each other and are forced to team up, with Sinestro and Deathstroke both joining the team.
The team finally reach the remains of the fallen Justice League Watchtower where they find Dick Grayson being held captive in the Murder Room, a device meant to imprison Doomsday. The room is sealed off with no escape and a bomb is wired to Dick's heart and the will detonate unless his heart is stopped. Although Batman attempts to disarm the bomb, he is seemingly unable to do so and Luthor makes the decision to blast Batman from behind and seemingly suffocates Dick to death in order stop the bomb. He is successful in doing so with the timer stopping just before detonation. Batman attacks Luthor for seemingly murdering Dick but Luthor reveals that he had given Dick a pill to only make his heart stop temporarily and proceeds to revive Dick.
When the hooded prisoner the Crime Syndicate had been holding is revealed to be Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 who has the ability to absorb powers from others and takes on the form of Mazahs (an Ananym for the word Shazam), he proceeds to attack all the people around him, including Lex Luthor himself who has realized that person he is fighting is a version of himself. Bizarro attack Alexander in attempts to protect his creator but Alexander kills him and steals his powers. Luthor appears angered and even saddened by the death of Bizarro. Luthor realizes since he and Alexander are the same person, he can also use the Mazahs shout and he does so and reverts Alexander into his normal form, and then proceeds to kill him.
After the Crime Syndicate is defeated, Luthor also manages to save Superman's life by removing the piece of Kryptonite left in his brain by Atomika. Luthor also manages to discover Bruce Wayne's identity as Batman by learning of his connection with Dick Grayson, and much to the chagrin of Superman, Luthor even manages to secure a place in the Justice League, builds a new watchtower for them, and recruits Shazam and Captain Cold onto the team.
When Doomsday was caught he intervened telling the monster it was becoming strong saying that Doomsday wanted to get stronger using Superman encouraging Superman away from Earth..
Powers and Abilities
Lex Luthor is not a metahuman, but is an intellectual genius, one of the smartest people on the planet, often (usually by himself) said to be able to turn the world into a Utopia free of crime a sickness if not for his obsession with beating Superman.
Lex however suffers from a self-obsessed and narcissistic personality that causes him to lack empathy with the rest of humanity. Lex blames Superman for the world not recognizing his status as the greatest person alive.
He has a ruthless streak evidenced by the sheer number of people he has either had killed or ruined over the years to get him where he is today. Also, as Superboy witnessed first hand, Luthor actually cares very little about even those closest to him, when the Boy of Steel called him out on his intellectual callousness after finding Lex's sister as a wheelchair-bound woman in Smallville. Lex cured her easily, but quickly removed the effects of his cure while saying; "Lex giveth, Lex taketh away."
Weapons and Equipment
Lex Luthor has been known to use a variety of weapons and inventions of his own making, especially those made of Kryptonite. He has also used various battle suits of his own creation that allows him to go for extended bouts with the likes of Superman and other superhumans.
On the pre-Crisis Earth-Two, an Alexi Luthor existed; this Luthor had a full set of red hair. This Luthor plagued Kal-L for years until his death during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Alexander Luthor was the world's greatest and only hero on Earth-Three. His son, Alexander Luthor Jr. was the only survivor of his earth after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Earth-31 (Dark Knight Strikes Again)
Luthor is the real President of the United States, and manipulator behind much of the harm done to the heroic community. Teamed with Brainiac, he has enslaved most of the meta populations, including Superman, Wonder Woman and Capt Marvel.
Earth-12 (Batman Beyond)
Lex Luthor is alive and well in the future. When Superman was under the control of Starro, Luthor took advantage of Superman's absence by teaming up with Metallo in a widespread drug operation. Metallo and his thugs act as drug mules in order to deal drugs that are laced with Kryptonite throughout Metropolis as well as Gotham. Luthor's plan was to hook a majority of each city's population to his designer narcotics which in turn would cause Superman to become weak because the residents of each city would be emitting Kryptonite radiation.
Atom Man vs. Superman (1950)
Lyle Talbot, was the first actor to play Lex Luthor in a serial called Atom Man vs. Superman. Lyle had also played James Gordon in the Batman and Robin serial a year earlier.
Superman (1978, 1980, 1987)
Gene Hackman portrayed Lex Luthor in three separate films directed by Richard Donner: Superman, Superman II, & Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.
Kevin Spacey revived the Gene Hackman version of Luthor in the fifth Superman film Superman Returns. Filmed nearly two decades after the last film, Superman Returns was a loose continuation of the first four films' continuity, with very minor changes. Spacey's version of Luthor was very similar to Hackman's, and several references were made to the previous version of the character, notably his wigs.
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
In 2014, it was announced that Lex would appear as a villain in the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the sequel to Zack Snyder's 2013 film Man of Steel, alongside a cast of characters that includes Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Jesse Eisenberg, star of The Social Network and Zombieland, will play Luthor. The film is set for release on March 25th, 2016.
Filmation is responsible for a number of cartoons with several DC Characters. Jackson Beck was the voice actor for Luthor in The New Adventures of Superman, The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure and The Batman/Superman Hour. Jackson also played Perry White in the cartoons. Later, in the Super Friends cartoons Lex was voiced by Stan Jones.
Michael Bell played Luthor in the Superman cartoon series in 1988, but it was canceled after only a few episodes.
Scott Wells and Sherman Howard played Luthor in the live action Superboy show. Scott had played Luthor in the first season and Sherman in the last three seasons. At the end of the first season there was a lab accident that caused Lex to lose his hair just like the comic. When Sherman played Luthor after that the change in looks was explained as plastic surgery so Superboy would not recognize him.
Lois & Clark (1993)
John Shea played Luthor in the very popular Lois & Clark. Unfortunately Luthor was only in the first season and killed himself in the season finalé. Shea later made some cameo appearances of Luthor in later seasons.
Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000)
Luthor appeared as one of the main antagonists in Superman: The Animated Series. Voiced by the brilliant Clancy Brown, this version of Lex Luthor was portrayed as powerful, cold and calculated man. Though not necessarily a politician, Lex is often shown to be a man of considerable influence, importance and power over Metropolis due to the work he has done with his company Lexcorp - specializing in technology and weaponry. As in many revisions in the comic, it is implied that the people of Metropolis work for Lex and Lexcorp either directly or indirectly. Luthor is also shown to be a very careful man, being able to cover up any illegal activities so that it appears that he is in no way involved. As in all versions in the comics, Lex is bent on destroying Superman due to his inability to control the Man of Steel as well as his resentment of the people of Metropolis for worshiping Superman instead of him.
The show is also notable for introducing Mercy Graves, Lex's bodyguard and chauffeur. She became popular enough that she was brought over into the comics, and has since appeared in a number of other adaptations.
Justice League (2001-2004) and Justice League: Unlimited (2004-2006):
Following the series finale of 'Superman: The Animated Series' Lex Luthor is once again voiced by Clancy Brown in the DCAU's Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. In his attempts to get rid of Superman, Lex had carried around a piece of Kryptonite with him in his pocket, only for it to give him some form of poisoning over the years. Upon being arrested for the attempted murder of Superman, Luthor forms an alliance with Ultra-Humanite and other rogues in order to destroy the Justice League, but ultimately failed and was re-incarcerated. Luthor is able to contain the poison within him by wearing a specially developed suit.
In the two-part episode, 'A Better World' an alternate universe is presented whereby Lex Luthor becomes President of the United States, only to be later killed by that Earth's version of Superman, following the death of that Earth's Wally West at the hands of Luthor. This Earth's version of the Justice League, The Justice Lords, then travel to the show's main version of Earth in order to impose strict law to avoid the events of their Earth happening on this one - even if that means destroying this Earth's Justice League. With the assistance of Luthor and his advanced knowledge of weapons, the Justice League are able to defeat the Justice Lords and pardon Luthor from prison. The events surrounding this episode serve as a recurring theme for much of both Justice League series.
As the show developed into 'Justice League: Unlimited', Luthor was once again used as a major villain. In this series, Luthor is shown to be a main financial contributor to Project Cadmus aimed to provide a contingency plan for the United States in the even that the Justice League goes rogue (which was previously seen in the series finale of Superman: The Animated Series when Clark attacked Earth under the influence of Darkseid's mind-control). Attempting to stop project Cadmus, the Justice League in their confrontation with Lex witness Brainiac emerge from inside Lex (Brainiac had planted pieces of his computer in Lex during Superman: The Animated Series when Brainiac had taken Luthor prisoner in order to force him to repair his body). This new hybrid of Brainiac and Lex then aim to destroy Earth and take all the data of Earth along with it. The Flash is able to stop Brainiac's plan, and Luthor is once again imprisoned.
Luthor, now separated from Brainiac begins to feel withdrawal symptoms. Lex had previously had shared Brainiac's knowledge when they were bonded, but was now desperate to find Brainiac once more and share the information. Seeking the site where Brainiac's main body was destroyed (by the Justice League), Luthor, hoping to revive Brainiac inadvertently revives Darkseid (also destroyed by the Justice League). The newly revived Darkseid then seeks to conquer Earth. Luthor and his Injustice League then join forces with the rest of the Justice League in order to save their world from the hands of Darkseid. Luthor then discovers Metron watching the battle and demands to know what Metron knows, and is later brought to the Source Wall. Meanwhile, it seems as though all is lost for Earth as Darkseid is able to defeat Superman, but before he is able to kill Superman, Luthor reappears and offers to share the Anti-Life Equation with Darkseid. Darkseid accepts, and they both vanish. Lex Luthor had saved the world.
Luthor appears in the 2007 animated film Superman: Doomsday as one of the antagonists of the film, voiced by James Marsters. After Superman's supposed death, it is revealed that Lex had created multiple clones of Superman, including one that fully took on the role of Superman, albeit in a more deadly and serious demeanor.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Luthor appears in the 2009 Superman/Batman: Public Enemies film as the primary antagonist. Lex Luthor has been elected as president of the United States as attempts to stop Superman and Batman from preventing a large meteor of Kryptonite from hitting and destroying the Earth.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
An alternate version of Lex is a central character of the 2010 animated film Crisis on Two Earths, voiced by Chris Noth. As an opposite of Superman's infamous nemesis, Lex is the last surviving member and leader of his world's Justice League, who have all been killed by the Crime Syndicate and travels to an alternate reality to recruit assistance. This version ofLex is much more heroic than his counterpart though he still uses Kryptonite against Ultraman, and is just as intelligent as he was the one to discover and develop travel between alternate Earths. He also employs a suit of powered armour that provides enhanced strength, flight, energy blasts, force fields and durability.
Luthor appears in the 2011 animated film All-Star Superman, based off of the Grant Morrison comic book of the same name. Luthor has been sentenced to death against crimes against humanity but manages to replicate Superman's powers for himself by a serum of which he created. He was voiced by Anthony LaPaglia.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Luthor also appears in the 2013 animated movie, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. This version of Luthor has been changed slightly due to the events of Flashpoint, and he appears to be apart of Deathstroke's crew as they sail through the remains of Paris in attempt to locate Aquaman's base. However, Aquaman and his army attack the ship they are on and manage to kill everyone on the ship-Luthor included. He was voiced by Steve Blum.
JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time
Luthor appeared in the film as the leader of the Legion of Doom, voiced by Fred Tatasciore.
Micheal Rosenbaum played Lex in several seasons of Smallville, one of the longest superhero television shows in history. There were a handful of episodes that Lex was played by another actor usually as a child like Matthew Munn, Wayne Dalgish, and Lucas Grabeel . Michael also voice the Flash in the DCAU cartoons in in one episode of Justice League Unlimited he actually played Lex when Lex and the Flashes' minds were switched.
In this series Alexander 'Lex' Luthor and Clark Kent meet when they are 21 and 16 respectively. Lex, in an effort to avoid being hit by bailing wire that had fallen off a transport truck accidentally hits Clark, who had just found out he was an alien and was debating running away, and is standing on the Smallville bridge. Clark's abilities allow him to survive the crash and he uses his strength for the first time to tear the roof off of Lex's car to save him, pulling him to shore and giving him CPR. From that point on Lex and Clark are pretty much inseparable despite the disapproval of both of their fathers.
Over the course of several years a rift begins to form between them as Lex, who always tries to do what's right in a big picture sense, often forgetting or ignoring the ethical implications, and Clark who always tries to do the right thing on a small scale but constantly lies to his friends in an effort to do so, become more and more opposed in their lifestyles.
Lex, who values honesty above all other things, can never forgive or forget that Clark has lied to him about who and what he is and has often directly interfered with Lex's search for the truth, going so far as to let Lex be forcibly incarcerated in a mental institution and given electroshock therapy in an effort to hide his secrets when Lex sees Clark display his abilities.
Clark, who values his privacy, cannot forgive that Lex puts his secret and family in jeopardy in his relentless pursuit of the truth. It is this that finally puts the nail in the coffin of their friendship as Clark discovers and entire room dedicated to him in Lex's home, where Lex tries to put together the pieces of what he knows of Clark and find the right answer.
In current continuity, Lex is presumed dead after an attack on him by Green Arrow and the prototype Justice League, but it is shown that a young man is being kept on life support by various machines. It is implied that it is Braniac who is keeping Lex alive as both Lord Zod and Brainiac have taken an interest in Lex in the past, Zod going so far as to take over Lex's body against his will and try and persuade Lex to join him in his quest to destroy Kal-El and take over earth, an offer that was refused by Lex.
Lex Luthor made few appearances (with his face obscured) or had his presence felt by way of clones, or constant mentions of his intertwined destiny with Clark Kent. Michael Rosenbaum reprised his role of Lex Luthor in the two-hour Smallville series finale, which aired on May 13, 2011, in which the memory of his immoral life is erased by his half sister Lustessa Lena Luthor before she dies. Seven years later in a flash-forward sequence it is revealed that the new Luthor is the President of the United States and has donned his White Suit and Black Glove. Whether or not he has reverted back to his darker side is unknown.
In Young Justice, Luthor was the CEO of Lex Corp, a sizable conglomerate based in Metropolis. Behind the facade of honest business, Luthor also organized black market arms trades and other shady deals.He was the founder and first chairman of Cadmus, and initiated Project Match and Project Kr. To prevent another genetic failure like Match, Luthor gave his DNA to combine with Superman's for the Weapon of Project Kr.
When Aqualad, Robin and Kid Flash broke into Cadmus, Mark Desmond requested an audience with the Light, and briefed them on the incident. He informed them that the three heroes had been apprehended and asked what to do with them. Luthor ordered him to clone them.
This plan ultimately came to naught, and the heroes broke out with Superboy, after terminating Desmond's regime. Luthor dismissed Vandal Savage's concerns about leaving Guardian in charge of Cadmus without the influence of the Genomorphs, claiming that they had subtler means of control. However, he expressed some apprehension with the Justice League employing youth to do their "dirty work".
Luthor was brought in as an independent arbitrator in the peace talks between North and South Rhelasia, but he was not impartial: together with Ra's al Ghul, he planned an intricate gambit that would reunite the two under the Light's "guidance". The League of Shadows would attack the summit, driving the two feuding leaders together. Red Arrow became an unwitting pawn in this game, as he was tracking the assassin Cheshire at the time. Luthor dragged him further into it and even offered to hire him, but Red Arrow refused.
After the summit was saved by Red Arrow, Aqualad and one precision shot from Luthor's driver and bodyguard Mercy, both Rhelasians signed the treaty and multiple Lex Corp contracts as well. The Light was quite pleased.
After the arrest of the Injustice League, Luthor was present with the other members of the Light to hear Vandal Savage's view of the Kobra Venom Plant test and the heroes believing they had exposed the Secret Society.
Lex Luthor was attending a video conference, along with the rest of the members of the Light, when the Riddler and Sportsmaster arrived with the regenerated remains of the echinoderm.
Lex Luthor contacted Superboy with an ultrasound frequency; because Superman was off-planet, Superboy would be the only one to hear. Luthor wanted to meet him in East Potomac Park.
Luthor told Superboy, how he, as new director of of Cadmus, had discovered there was another super-clone. This caused Superboy to investigate. However, Luthor full-well knew about "Match"; he simply lured Superboy back to Cadmus make him investigate missing genomorphs. In the process, he wanted to make Superboy dependent on him. He revealed that Project Kr worked with incomplete Kryptonian DNA, and the gaps were filled with human DNA. Special Shields could suppress these genes and give Superboy his full potential.
Superboy eventually found out that he had been played, but Luthor had still won. He not only revealed that he himself was the donor of Superboy's human DNA, but confronted Superboy with the fact that Superman would never accept him with that pedigree. Superboy was about to assault Luthor when he managed to escape by speaking a code word, "Red Sun".
Justice League Throne of Atlantis
Lex makes a brief appearance in Justice League Throne of Atlantis, at the end cutscene where Orm is in prison, and Lex says that he has a proposition for him. Steve Blum reprises his role.
Justice League: Gods & Monsters
An alternate universe version of Luthor appears in Justice League: Gods & Monsters, voiced by Jason Isaacs. In the film, he is paralyzed by an unspecified illness, and by the end of the film, he gets around in a special device resembling the Mobius Chair. He plays a key role in helping the Justice League defeat Will Magnus, the true villain of the film.
Luthor appears in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe in his current warsuit.
Luthor also appears in the MMORGP, DC Universe Online, where he plays a central role in the main story. In a not so distant future, Lex is approached by Brainiac who, as always is seeking to remove Superman so he can continue his hunt for information. Lex agrees to make the attempt with the promise of Earth being allowed to live afterwards with him as it's ruler. However during the attempt Lex is horribly wounded, loosing an eye, his legs and left arm. Brainac, still in need of Lex, converts Luthor into a cyborg in order to save his life by replacing his lost limbs and eye with cybernetic implants. After Lex returns to Earth,Luthor uses his wounds to sway public opinion against Superman and in favor of himself. When Brainiac temporarily bottles up the Daily Planet and releases his exobyte technology on the people inside, including Lois Lane, Lex is quick at hand to offer support swaying some of the newly empowered citizens to his side.
As seen in the opening video of the game, the heroes and villains all end up in a massive destructive battle leaving most of them dead as a result. Battered and exhausted, Luthor claims victory after killing Superman with a kryptonite headed spear, only to see Brainiac's massive fleet of space ships appear over him, realizing that Brainiac never intended to uphold their bargain. Fleeing the scene Luthor eventually meets up with the battered Batman, both of them realizing that their world was lost hatch a plan to prevent the events of the present from ever becoming real. The pair journey to the Fortress of Solitude, where a time machine is located. Luthor however betrays Batman as Brainacs forces attack the Fortress. Batman swears vengeance on Luthor as he battles the robots while Luthor makes his escape into the past. Arriving there he informs the League of the coming apocalypse and that he had already taken steps to halt Brainiac, by releasing exobytes all over the planet; creating thousands of new superheroes and villains. However, Lex refrains from mentioning that he is still planning on being the ultimate victor when the dust settles.
DC Universe Online
Used by his parents and alienated by his peers, Lex Luthor grew to become a sociopath who continually seeks to use his supreme intellect and skills for power and influence without regard for the pain and suffering he causes.
Ever since Superman openly accused Luthor of being a criminal mastermind, Luthor has done everything in his power to discredit and defeat the alien.
In an alternate future, Lex Luthor was the sole survivor of a war between The Society and the Justice League. However in his moment of victory Brainiac launched an invasion of Earth, which quickly fell without any Heroes or Villians to fight back. Lurking in the shadows, Luthor managed to steal Brainiac's Exobyte technology, which contained the powers of Earth's defeated Heroes and Villians. Traveling back in time the Future Luthor warned the Justice League and Society of Brainiacs plot, and seeded the Earth with the stolen Exobytes to create a new generation of Heroes and Villians. He then disappeared to continue his plan in secret.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Luthor appears in Injustice Gods Among Us. He is shown as a supposed friend of Superman's after he takes over the planet, but is revealed to be undercover, secretly working with Batman and the Insurgency. He devises the plan to save the original Batman from Strykers Island, then fixes the Kryptonite Gun made to incapacitate Superman. After Deathstroke destroys the Watchtower, Luthor lures Superman to the Hall Of Justice, ready to shoot his "friend". Superman flies down at top speed, but a malfunction in Luthor's suit causes him to lose his shot, and Superman crashes right into him from space, killing Luthor and destroying the gun. After the final battle, a grave is made for Luthor in the middle of a large fountain, which Cyborg adorns with flowers.