Clark/Lex

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Pairing
Pairing: Clark Kent/Lex Luthor
Alternative name(s): Clex, CLex, Lex/Clark
Gender category: Hoyay!, slash, m/m
Fandom: Smallville, Superman
Canonical?:
Prevalence:
Archives: Smallville Slash Archive,Archive of Our Own
Other:
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Contents

Clark/Lex or 'Clex' refers to the slash pairing of Lex Luthor and Clark Kent, including various AU!Canon versions of the characters. (I.E. Kal-El, Alexander Luthor, Clark Luthor, Alexander Kent, etc.) 'Clex' is one of the main and earliest slash pairings in the Smallville fandom, though many stories have branched off to include canon material from Superman (comics and various films) and other related works.

Beginnings of the Ship

The 'Clex' phenomenon began with the pilot episode of Smallville aired on The WB Television Network on October 16, 2001. Clark and Lex meet when Lex is sent to the town to work at the fringes of his father's industrial empire. Clark is moping on a bridge over his crush on Lana Lang and how he feels different from other kids when he is hit by Lex's Porsche. Their eyes meet through the windshield as a sexy love song plays in the background. (The producers of SV, Al Gough and Miles Millar, have called the moment when the main character's eyes lock through the glass a "meet violent." This term is a riff off the romantic comedy tradition of the "meet cute".)

Clark is unhurt by the accident and rescues an unconscious Lex by ripping the car's roof off. He places Lex on shore and performs mouth-to-mouth, breathing life back into him. This first kiss leads to many fictional descriptions of their actual first kiss that compare it to the force of a car crash. Coughing up water, Lex gazes on Clark's beautiful face as on the face of an angel, and then both turn their attention to the broken railing of the bridge, expressing their shock at being alive.

Afterward, Lex attempts to repay Clark with a truck. Clark's father, Jonathan, insists that Clark must return the gift, and in a fit of pique Clark sticks his arm in a wood chipper. It is after this that Jonathan informs Clark that he is actually an alien. Thus Clark's innocence can be paralleled as being broken in two ways that day: learning the truth of his origins and meeting Lex. When Clark goes to Lex to give him back the truck Lex tells Clark that he doesn't want anything to stand in the way of their friendship and basically hits on Clark as hard as possible.

Thus is set the pattern for their relationship. Clark blushes at Lex a lot. Lex gives Clark frequent gifts and eyes him like dessert. Lex becomes fascinated by Clark's secrets. And Clark continues to lie to Lex about his alien nature, his powers, and what truly happened when they first met on that bridge.

"It's more than destiny. Their relationship just *is* and has been from the moment they met."[1]

Critical Response

One interesting point of note about Smallville is that the perception of homoerotic subtext between the characters was not limited to those in the slash community, but was fairly widely perceived by general audiences and critics alike. Given that the series began with the male leads giving/receiving mouth-to-mouth, followed by the pair being shot with romantic camera angles, this is not surprising.

Trends in the Fandom

Tropes & Fanon

The Rift; Kon-El (their canonical son together); alien biology; Red-K; Woobie!Lex; Lex Finds Out; Lionel (and background of sexual abuse); the CoCK (Chamber of Clark Kent, the secret room where Lex stores all his obsessive gay alien-hunting evidence); incest AUs; evil Kryptonian conquerors; fake supervillain Luthor; immortality; taking over the world together.

Much of this is discussed further in the Smallville entry.

FutureFic & RWR

Given the nature of the material, viewers knew that, ultimately, Clark and Lex's relationship on the show would deteriorate and end in tragedy and enmity (called The Rift). This led slash writers to create stories that end in other ways including hot sex, eternal love, acceptance by the Kents, Mpreg, and other HEA (Happily-Ever-After) scenarios (called Riftless or Rift? What Rift? (to play off Plot? What Plot?)).

Because of this, Clex is a pairing that can be either written as classic buddyslash or classic enemyslash. This also leads to a tension in the fandom between the typical shipper "meant to be" mentality of epic destined love and the clear knowledge that getting the Clex together was a step that changed everything far more than the mere non-canonical nature of most slash. As an SF/fantasy canon, especially in the superhero comic genre, there was also the ability to play with AUs and time-travel so that even the characters themselves would be aware of the destined-yet-improbable, improbable-yet-destined nature of their pairing, and could themselves create their coupledom as a fix-it for the enmity.

Sexuality

In fanon Lex is almost always portrayed as bisexual. He is frequently considered to have been publicly so in Metropolis before moving to Smallville and going more into the closet due to small town mentality.

Clark's sexual orientation is more variable in fic, with some bi-Clark, some gay-Clark, some straight-with-an-exception-Clark, and some totally-alien-Clark. He is most commonly gay but it is not necessarily an overwhelming majority. Since Clark fetishizes normalcy and has a certain level of internalized Kryptophobia he frequently has a hard time in fic dealing with the fact that he is also in a sexual minority. Being an alien is bad enough for someone who just wants to be a normal boy, but being a gay alien is even worse.

Differences in age and experience also play a role. At the beginning of the series Lex is 21 and Clark is 15 (this was the general fanon at first; in S4 Clark turned 18 and so some people after that point write him as 14 in S1). Thus early on their relationship had the specter of statutory hanging over it. Fans responded to this in different ways. Some wrote fic where a sexual relationship between the characters waited until later; some reveled in the underage aspect. Some handwaved the whole thing by mentioning that Clark is an alien with a fake birth certificate who ages at a different rate from humans, and that no one knows exactly how long he spent in transit between Krypton and Earth, how long he will live, when/how Kryptonian puberty happens, or what Kryptonian sexual customs were. As far as experience goes, Lex typically has lots of it and Clark typically has none for fic set early in the show. Fic set later on or in AUs varies, but a lot of early stuff was quite into the trope of the experienced and skilled lover deflowering the innocent yet lusting virgin.

As far as the top/bottom question goes, fans are fairly evenly split.

Both Clark and Lex are generally portrayed as quite well-endowed. Clark is frequently described as uncircumcised, since obviously nothing can cut him. In many stories Lex is hairless all over to go along with his bald head.

In early days it was reasonably common to see Clex fics where Lex had been sexually abused in some way by his father Lionel (this pairing also had some fic in its own right). This information generally would be revealed at some point in the story without being mentioned in the header as an additional pairing or as a warning. This trope became less common as time passed, possibly due to the changing portrayal of "evil" Lex and "good" Lionel in canon and the shift in power between the two, and possibly due to the ongoing warnings debates in fandom. However, since Lionel's treatment of Lex is canonically emotionally abusive and in some ways physically so, and has extended so far as sleeping with Lex's ex-girlfriend and sending him pictures, it is not a surprise that fanon would sexualize the abuse to a greater extent (especially given the physical mannerisms of the actors when in scenes together).

Alien Biology

There is a famous essay about Superman and Lois Lane titled "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex." These concerns are relevant for any pairing involving Clark Kent. There are questions that arise in fic, such as: Will Clark's ejaculate put holes in his partner? Can his ass turn coal into diamonds when he comes? Does he secretly have a tentacle penis? Can he get pregnant?

Luckily Lex Luthor appreciates the virtues of asking questions and experimenting to find the answers.

Also, he's a superhealing meteor mutant. That cuts down on the kleenex factor a lot.

There are definitely fics where Clark's biology is dangerous to his human partner. There are also fics where his biology is inwardly less human than it outwardly appears. Fans of mpreg, tentacles, Pon Farr, BDSM AUs, etc., can all find or create what they're looking for here.

Although even with all the above, there is also a lot of barebacking, since neither Clark nor Lex can get sick.

Notable Fanworks

Fanfiction

Notable Clex authors are Henry Jones Jr. (also known as sabershadowkat), RivkaT, danceswithgary, toomuchplor (also known as rose_emily), and Te.

Vids

Meta


Communities/Mailing Lists

References

  1. Friendship of Legend essay by serafina20 at Ship manifesto, 7 Sep 2004. (Accessed 25 Nov 2011).
  2. A Handful of Dust, by Jenn (Last accessed November 17, 2008.) Link is currently dead.
  3. No longer online, see Smallville section at Luminosity's site (Accessed 3 Dec 2011)
  4. A Clexian Love Story (accessed 2/18/2009)
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