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  • October 10, 2023 3 min read


    Lex Luthor, one of DC Comics' most iconic and enduring villains, has captivated audiences for decades with his cunning intellect, boundless ambition, and relentless pursuit of power. Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, the same creative duo responsible for the creation of Superman, Lex Luthor has evolved from a simple mad scientist in his early appearances to a complex and multifaceted character with a rich backstory. In this article, we will delve into the origins and journey of Lex Luthor, exploring his adventures in the comics, movies, and TV shows.


    The Most Essential Lex Luthor Comics


    Origins and Early Appearances

    Lex Luthor made his debut in Action Comics #23 in April 1940. In his initial appearance, Luthor was portrayed as a mad scientist with no hair and a penchant for causing chaos. His first name, Lex, is derived from the Latin word for "law," while his last name, Luthor, hints at his nefarious nature. In this early incarnation, Luthor was a brilliant inventor and businessman who used his scientific genius to commit crimes and oppose Superman.

    However, in these early stories, Luthor's character lacked the depth and complexity that would later define him. He was primarily a one-dimensional antagonist, serving as a foil to Superman's unwavering moral code and superhuman abilities.


    So Good at Being So Bad: A Celebration of Lex Luthor


    The Silver Age Transformation

    It wasn't until the Silver Age of Comics (late 1950s to early 1970s) that Lex Luthor underwent a significant transformation. DC Comics revamped the character, giving him a new backstory and a more compelling motivation. In Adventure Comics #271 (1960), Luthor's origin was rewritten to establish him as a brilliant scientist from Smallville, the same town where Superman grew up. He and Superman, then known as Superboy, were once friends until a tragic accident led to Luthor blaming Superboy for his hair loss.

    This new backstory humanized Lex Luthor and added layers to his character. His obsession with defeating Superman became a deeply personal vendetta, fueled by envy and a desire for revenge. This portrayal of Luthor as a tragic figure made him a more relatable and compelling antagonist.


    Lex Luthor Reading Order - Comic Book Herald


    The Modern Age and Beyond

    In the late 1980s, John Byrne's "The Man of Steel" series further refined Lex Luthor's character, reimagining him as a wealthy and charismatic businessman with a public persona that contrasted sharply with his criminal activities. This version of Luthor used his wealth, intellect, and influence to undermine Superman in both the business world and the criminal underworld. The comics explored his rivalry with Superman in greater depth, making him a formidable adversary.

    Lex Luthor's journey in the comics continued to evolve over the years, with various story arcs and character developments. He joined the ranks of iconic DC villains and became a symbol of the dark side of human ambition and intelligence.


    Lex Luthor Evolution in Movies & Cartoons (2018) - YouTube


    Lex Luthor in Movies and TV Shows

    Lex Luthor's presence extended beyond the comics into other media, including movies and TV shows. His first live-action appearance was in the 1948 serial "Superman," where he was portrayed as a traditional mad scientist. However, it was Gene Hackman's portrayal of Lex Luthor in the 1978 film "Superman: The Movie" that left a lasting impression.

    Hackman's Luthor was a charismatic real estate mogul with grandiose plans to destroy California's coastline and create new beachfront property. This version of Luthor added humor and charm to the character while retaining his megalomaniacal ambitions.

    In subsequent Superman films and TV adaptations, various actors have taken on the role of Lex Luthor, each offering their unique interpretation. Notable portrayals include Kevin Spacey in "Superman Returns" (2006), Michael Rosenbaum in the TV series "Smallville" (2001-2011), and Jesse Eisenberg in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2016).



    Lex Luthor's journey from his early days as a one-dimensional villain to his transformation into a complex and multifaceted character is a testament to the enduring appeal of the character. With a rich backstory, relentless ambition, and unwavering determination to outwit Superman, Lex Luthor remains a formidable adversary in the DC Universe.

    Whether in the pages of comic books, on the silver screen, or on television, Lex Luthor's presence continues to captivate audiences and serve as a compelling foil to the Man of Steel. His evolution as a character reflects the ever-changing landscape of superhero storytelling, ensuring that he will remain a vital part of the DC Universe for years to come.