|Location:||Smallville, Metropolis, USA|
|Relationships:||Clark Kent (enemy), Lois Lane (enemy), others vary with setting.|
|Other:||Lex Luthor (Wikipedia, Lex Luthor (Superman Homepage)|
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Lex Luthor is a leading villain in most versions of the Superman story from 1940 to the present day. His precise role in canon varies considerably in different eras and media, but most versions are derived to some extent from comics canon.
Luthor was originally depicted in comics as a criminal mad scientist with little or no back story; later an origin as a native of Smallville and Superboy's friend was retconned, with the hero accidentally responsible for the loss of Luthor's hair. In this version of the story Superboy learns of Luthor's genius and decides to build him a laboratory; unfortunately a fire starts, Superboy tries to blow it out, and Luthor inhales chemicals which make him permanently bald. Luthor blames him for this and decides on a career of evil. With or without this back story the traditional role of Luthor was to escape from prison, commit a few crimes, get caught by Superman, and returned to prison until the next time he managed to escape. This version of Luthor was generally aided by a few generic thugs, none of them especially memorable.
As part of a major overhaul of the DC universe the 1986 comics series The Man of Steel by John Byrne completely redefined the character, making him a wealthy businessman with criminal interests who saw Superman as a challenge to his power. He was generally played as the power behind the scenes, a chessmaster who maneuvered lesser villains into carrying out his schemes. In this version he was initially overweight and balding, but later he faked his death and had his brain transplanted into a clone body, taking over his "father's" companies as Lex Luthor II. As is often the case with comics, there are numerous variations on his subsequent career; in one story arc he became President but was eventually impeached, in another Supergirl was his lover, he was also briefly infatuated with Lois Lane. He typically develops weapons for use against Superman, including Kryptonite lasers, red sun lighting, etc. See his entries on the Superman Homepage and Wikipedia for more detailed versions of his history. In comics since 1999 he is often aided by Mercy Graves, his personal assistant and bodyguard, who was originally a character in DC's animated series.
The comics version of Luthor has largely been eclipsed by the TV and cinematic versions in fandom; there is little fanfic or fan-art derived purely from the comics versions, and almost all of it draws on the post-1986 comics.
- Victory Bonds by Copperbadge (2012) - "The year is 1947, and Daily Planet front-pagers Clark Kent and "Louis" Lane are about to get the story of their careers, courtesy of the fledgling Justice League: the enigmatic Superman, the spy-turned-vigilante codenamed Bat, intelligence agent and newly minted Green Lantern Alan Scott, and Ambassador Diana, Princess of Themyscira."
- How We Roll by perletwo (2013) - "Lois loses the use of her legs permanently, but doesn't stop working as a reporter."
- Independance Day icarus_chained (2012) - "AU. Earth has been mostly destroyed by the White Martians. This is Lex's last message to Superman, as he ... finishes the job."
The animated version of Luthor largely derives from the post-1986 comics, and in turn has fed back into the comics with characters such as Mercy Graves. He is often depicted wearing powered armour.
As with the comics version, it's rare to find fan works that don't derive at least in part from the cinematic and TV versions. This version of Luthor is often shipped with Clark Kent, with one or both often gender-reversed.
- Professional Secrecy (series) by DoreyG (2014-2015 WIP) - (no series description), Lex Luthor/Female Clark Kent.
- The version of Luthor in Cat Tales by Chris Dee is largely based on the Superman and JLA animated series.
Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
The Lois and Clark version derives from the later comics, with its initial story arc taken mainly from The Man of Steel. Lex is one of the richest men in the world, and also a criminal megalomaniac plotting to gain power by means that include murder and corruption. For more details see Lex Luthor (Lois and Clark).
The Smallville version of Luthor derives from post-1986 comics but makes the character much younger, in his twenties, and adds the Clark & Lex friendship that originated in Superboy comics. Fandom for this version runs heavily to slash. See Lex Luthor (Smallville)
The movie version (as seen in Superman through Superman IV and Superman Returns) is based on the pre-1986 comics version, with Luthor shown as a ruthless criminal and con-man with little or no back-story. He is usually accompanied by a mistress and henchmen. See Lex Luthor (Superman Movies)