This article is about Clark/Lex from Smallville. For the same pairing from all/other universes, see Clark Kent/Lex Luthor.
|Pairing:||Clark Kent/Lex Luthor|
|Alternative name(s):||Clex, CLex, Lex/Clark|
|Gender category:||Hoyay!, slash, m/m|
|Archives:||Smallville Slash Archive, Archive of Our Own|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Clark/Lex or 'Clex' is the slash pairing of Lex Luthor and Clark Kent. 'Clex' is the main and earliest slash pairing in the Smallville fandom. This pairing's popularity is greatly, if not solely, contributed to the show Smallville.
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.[note 1]
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."
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
- Future fics are often Rift-fics, portraying Clark and Lex as enemies following a rift in their relationship. There was also "Rift, What Rift?" fanfic.
- Kon-El (their canonical son together) appeared in Clex fics before his character appeared on the show. His parentage was already revealed in the comics, and Clex works featuring Kon-El (Connor Kent) are often domestic fics.
- Red-K was treated as a canon Sex Pollen within SV fandom, with Clark losing all inhibitions and behaving selfishly under its influence
- Identity porn is very popular within DC fandoms and Clex fanfics are not the exception.
- Lex Finds Out is the Secret Identity Reveal trope of choice within Clex fics
- Alien biology fics are common, and can include mating cycles/heats or mpreg.
- Lionel Luthor, Lex's father, something appears in Clex fics as an antagonist. This can include a background of sexual abuse.
- The CoCK (Chamber of Clark Kent), is the secret room where Lex stores all his obsessive gay alien-hunting evidence.
- Incest AUs are often Raised Together stories, with Clark and Lex are raised together in the same family.
- Evil Kryptonian conquerors
- Fake supervillain Luthor
- Taking over the world together
Much of this is discussed further in the Smallville entry.
FutureFic & The Rift
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 future fic 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, Rift? What Rift? (to play off Plot? What Plot?), or RWR).
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.
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).
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 or alien sex. 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.
Most of the fanart were manips or some kind of photo art but there was quite a bit of traditional art as well. Some example are in the following gallery:
Clex2, manip by The Theban Band
print of Clex Midsummer Day's Dream by Suzan Lovett
Sample page for the 2009 Clex Calendar by P.L. Nunn
cover of Clark/Lex zine The Oak and the Cypress, art by sockii
Authors often associated with Clark/Lex slash include Henry Jones Jr. (aka. Saber Shadowkitten), RivkaT, danceswithgary, toomuchplor (aka. rose_emily), and Te.
- Beginnings by Nicole D'Annais - The first fic posted to the SSA.
- Identical series by Lanning Cook
- Past Grief by Te; Te was one of the earliest and most prolific Clark/Lex writers, and her Clex stories drew many other fans into the fandom.
- Callaesthetics by Liviapenn
- Demarcation by Liviapenn
- Just Pie by Liviapenn
- Altville by Liviapenn. It was supposed to be continued by someone else but it didn't happen.
- Manifest Destiny by Liviapenn
- Interstitial by Punk Maneuverability
- The Cuckoo by FayJay
- Mercy by Koimistress (Noted for sparking debates about the characterization of Lex Luthor: sociopath or victim, or both?)
- Three Fairy Tales of Smallville by Koimistress
- Omiai by toomuchplor (also known as rose_emily)
- When A Strawberry Is Pushed Into A Mountain by Thamiris
- Sleep While I Drive by Seperis
- A Handful of Dust, by Seperis
- Three Impossible Things by Seperis
- What You Want by The Spike
- Reconcilable Differences by Astolat
- Revenge by Astolat
- Looking Glass Country by Astolat. You can also read it here. movies_michelle wrote her thoughts about the ending of the story.
- Moving On by Astolat. A DVD Commentary for this story was written by Gozer and originally posted in the Livejournal community "2007 DVD Commentary Challenge", moderated by seperis and general_jinjur.
- Until the Twelfth Of Never by iibnf
- The Field Where I Died by Beth 
- Expectations: A Clexian Mpreg by Beth, the earliest Mpreg in this fandom.
- Better Than Creamed Corn by Beth
- Five Things That Aren't True by Basingstoke, the first Five Things story ever written.
- Whosoever Loveth And Maketh A Lie by Te, inspired by Basingstoke's Five Things That Aren't True.
- Kids' Game by Te
- Immortality by Grail
- All The Difference by xparrot
- The Reset by tasabian
- Forbidden Fortress by meyari
- An Alienated Property by Kantayra
- Still Two Fools by Kantayra
- Old Gods by Kantayra
- Not A Villain series by Tallihensia
- Execution 'Verse by Tallihensia. The first story, which can be read as a standalone, was written for the 'Twisting The Twilight Zone 2009 Challenge' (Episode 1.26: Execution). ("When a 20th century scientist tests out his time machine he accidentally retrieves a 19th century murderer - saving him from the hangman's noose. Unaware of the man's history, the two attempt to acclimatize to their new surroundings.")
- Growing up Familiar by Tallihensia. Written for the Twisting the Twilight 2010 challenge. (Episode 4.1 - In His Image. A young man grapples with an urge to kill and confusion about his origins.)
- The Veil Universe by Tallihensia
- The Project series, by Te
- Benediction by Te
- The Rules of Blue by Thamiris
- The Butterfly Effect by The Spike
- A Clark/Lex Epic of Staggering Genius by Punk Maneuverability and Tiffany Rawlins
- Eavesdropping by Lady Ra
- Prophet of Eden by Destina
- Wetwork by Destina
- Looking Glass by Seperis
- Macellum by Sylvia
- Nowhere by Zaganthi and Tzigane
- Conflicts of Interest by Rageprufrock
- And Desire Shall Fail by teot. The author recommends reading it on here or at least checking it out as there are manips and drawings there that help illustrate the story.
- The Ides of Wakala by Zaganthi and Tzigane
- Yesterday's Tomorrow by Hope Roy. You can also read it here at the Smallville Slash Archive.
- Adamantine by Hope Roy
- Devil's Deal by bagheera_san
- Protection by bagheera_san
- Witness series by bagheera_san
- The Presence of Fire by RivkaT
- Switch: A Comedy of Terrors by RivkaT
- Strip Minefield by RivkaT
- Epic Misunderstanding by RivkaT
- Golden Rule by RivkaT. Seperis wrote a remix for this fanfiction with Slipping in Between
- Genesis by RivkaT
- Lost in Translation by RivkaT
- Locked Room Mystery by RivkaT
- A Simple Plan by danceswithgary
- That Old Schizophrenic Jealousy by Lenore
- Arch Enemies, 9 to 5 by Lenore
- In the Dark Hours by Lenore
- Inversion by Lenore. You can also read it here
- Inaureme series by Lenore
- Of Gods and Men by Lenore. You can also read it here
- You Can Call Me Al by Lenore
- Secrets, Lies and Misunderstandings by mahaliem. Written for the Clexfest Wave 10.
- Coming to Past by mahaliem. You can also read it on her journal where it's divided in the first and second part.
- Smallington by mahaliem, written for the 2007 Smallville Harlequin Challenge- which was run by teot- and first place winner for Cover One. The fanfiction is also available in her journal where it's divided in the first and the second part.
- Star Child by kayladie, written for the 2007 Smallville Harlequin Challenge and second place winner for Cover Two.
- Favoring Fire by Beth and Nomi
- Cally!verse by Sorrel. Girl!Clark.
- Paint By Numbers by Sorrel. You can also read it on here. Girl!Clark.
- No Particular Night or Morning by The Spike. Love/Hate.
- Boxed by Thamiris. A retelling of Metamorphosis.
- Closer to Breathing by Seperis. Underage, Christmas.
- Pet by Linzee . Lex character study with Lex/Lionel and Lex/Clark
- Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel by Luminosity. Clark/Lex
- Master and Servant by mkitty . Clark/Lex
- A Clexian Love Story by theclexfactor
- I Swear by dualbunny, greensilver, and sweetestdrain. The truelove crackvid for the pairing with a bit of Batverse. Created 2011.
- Bad Romance by sisabet mixes footage from the comics and Superman Returns as well as Smallville. Made for Vividcon's Club Vivid (2010).
- Clex Fanvid - Baby By Me by sisabet. Premiered at Vividcon 2016.
- Clex - In Your Eyes by sisabet. Made for Vividcon 2016 Challenge Theme: Descent.
- Clark/Lex || Against All Odds by sisabet
- Potential Break Up Song || Lex Luthor/Clark Kent by sisabet. Made for 2021 Premieres show at VidUKon.
- Map of the Problematique
- Every You Every Me by seaouryou (aka herostratic)
- Walk Away by Aelora
- Someone I Used to Know by talitha78, made as companion piece to the ficlet An Appealing Party. Clark/Lex. Rifty!Clex vid from Lex's point-of-view. I had tender feelings that you made hard.
- Objection (Tango) by talitha78. Clark/Lex, with Lana-as-Other-Woman. Commentary to the vid on her journal.
- Star Child by talitha78. An AU Clark/Lex vid. Made for the 2007 Smallville Harlequin Challenge as a vid trailer for kayladie's fanfiction Star Child. You can read commentary for the vid on here.
- A Lex Story- Perchance to Dream by BelladonnaBedlam. Clark/Lex. Lex's dreams are more like nightmares. You can also watch it on vimeo, the password is Clex.
- Clark & Lex - Only one by CKLLonly. Clark/Lex, Clark's POV.
- Clark & Lex || Whataya Want From Me by CKLLonly
- Clark & Lex || If I Told You by CKLLonly, Clark's POV.
- Come Out And Play || Clark & Lex by CKLLonly
- Clark & Lex | Let's Grow Old Together by Kate Jones aka thorinss
- Smallville - I'm with you by littlehollyleaf
- Smallville - The Broken Road (Clex) by littlehollyleaf
- Smallville - What If (Clex) by littlehollyleaf
- Smallville - Voodoo Child (Clex) by littlehollyleaf
- Smallville - As the world falls down (Clex) by littlehollyleaf
- Lex Luthor ✘ Clark Kent | Take Me To Church by momosansovino.
- Ship Manifesto essay Friendship of Legend by serafina20.
- Hammering Masculinity in Smallville by Thamiris[note 2]
Links & Resources
- Smallville Slash Archive
- Holly's Smallville Slash Recs
- The Smallville SlashRing
- Themes for Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman and Alexander (Lex) Luthor:This journal contains themed recommendation lists for fan fiction, videos, artwork, etc. for the pairings of Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman and Lex Luthor. For a quick orientation, here is the Clex Fic Recs: Master List. It was created by danceswithgary. It has been moved here to Dreamwidth.
- Theme clex recs created by enderwiggin24. There is also a list of the authors' sites.
- old_school_clex: Livejournal community for anything focused on the first three seasons and that shiny innocent feeling.
- CLFF- The Clark/Lex Fanfiction Festival
- ClarkLex - mailing list
- CLexslash - mailing list
- ClarkLexFic - mailing list
Notes & References
- ^ The producers of SV, Al Gough and Miles Millar, have called the moment when the Clark and Lex eyes lock through the glass for the first time a "meet violent." This term is a riff off the romantic comedy tradition of the "meet cute".
- ^ Thamiris passed away in 2007 but her LiveJournal still holds her many meta posts, which are as deep, lyrical, and beautiful as her fic.
- ^ Friendship of Legend essay by serafina20 at Ship manifesto, 7 Sep 2004. (Accessed 25 Nov 2011).
- ^ A Handful of Dust, by Jenn at Illuminated Text.
- ^ No longer online, see Smallville section at Luminosity's site (Accessed 3 Dec 2011)
- ^ A Clexian Love Story (accessed 2/18/2009)