Lex Luthor has been Superman's archenemy for most of the superhero's existence. He has been envisioned as Superman's dual opposite; morally depraved and relying on intellect over strength. Rather than harnessing his genius for good, Luthor seizes power for his own benefit and is a threat at large. Though originally portrayed as a rogue scientist, he was later rewritten as a Machiavellian industrialist and white-collar criminal (even briefly serving as President of the United States). Later characterizations have shown elements of both interpretations.
Currently, Luthor is a scientist and former chairman of one of the most powerful high-tech conglomerates in the world, LexCorp. Distinguishing Luthor from the majority of Superman's rogues gallery is his normality; Luthor is an innovator and possesses no special abilities besides that of his own cunning. He is bent on destroying Superman.
Luthor is one of several Superman characters with the initials "LL". Luthor is also notable for having appeared in several adaptations of Superman adventures for other media.
- 1 Biography
- 2 In other media
- 2.1 Films
- 2.2 Television
- 2.3 DC Animated Universe
- 2.4 Video games
- 3 Full name
- 4 Cultural references
- 5 Trivia
- 6 References
- 7 External links
As Superman's main villain for decades, Lex Luthor's biography has gone through a multitude of changes. For an in-depth look at his history, see Lex Luthor's Biography.
In other media
- Live action
Hackman's portrayal of Luthor is seen by some to be more lighthearted and comical; he often behaves more like a conman hustler than a true mastermind. Rather than an obsessive vendetta against Superman or a desire for world domination, this version of Luthor apparently is mainly motivated by a desire to make a fortune in real estate. Also, while bald, this version of Lex Luthor is apparently insecure about his hairlessness, and tends to wear a variety of obvious wigs to conceal his baldness (he does not appear bald at all in Superman IV). Despite his bombastic exterior, Luthor is not without menace and proves fully capable of killing Superman and leveling California. When not in complete control of a given situation, Luthor has a habit of trying to cowardly talk his way out of trouble. Hackman's performances in the movies are noted for being consistently strong, even when the screenplay is not.
In the first film, Luthor's high-tech hideout is located in an abandoned transit station buried beneath the Metropolis streets. Luthor's sinister plans are offset by a tendency to surround himself with less-than-satisfactory help. He is burdened by his bumbling henchman Otis, and his conscious-striken girlfriend Eve Teschmacher. In the first film he attempts to divert military missiles to hit the San Andreas fault, causing California to sink into the ocean, turning its neighboring states into beach front property (owned by Lex Luthor Incorporated). Although he nearly kills Superman using kryptonite, Superman defeats him and sends him to prison.
He escapes with Miss Teschmacher's help in Superman II where he was portrayed as comic relief, and allies himself with General Zod in his bid to destroy Superman and rule alongside the Kryptonian criminals when they take over Earth. Lex did not appear in Superman III although an evil businessman named Ross Webster filled a similar role. In 2006, an alternate version of Superman II was released as Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. This film includes additional sequences that were filmed by director Richard Donner but were cut from Superman II when another director took over the project. The Donner Cut is edited so that, to the casual observer, it appears as if Luthor is killed when Superman uses his heat vision to destroy the Fortress of Solitude. However in a deleted scene (not reinstated into the Donner Cut), Luthor subsequently escapes from prison again with the aid of Miss Teschmacher.
Luthor reappears in Superman IV, escaping from prison once more, this time with the aid of his nephew Lenny. Once again, Lex allies himself with other villains, in this instance a cadre of war profiteers and arms dealers who are worried about what Superman's efforts to disarm the world's nuclear arsenals will do to their businesses. To defeat Superman this time, Lex, using a strand of Superman's hair stolen from a museum, creates a "clone" of Superman which he names "Nuclear Man," who possesses powers similar to Superman's and who receives his power from sunlight. Although Nuclear Man comes close to killing Superman, good wins out in the end. Nuclear Man is killed, and Superman recaptures Lex and returns him to prison, telling him, "See you in twenty."
In the 2006 film Superman Returns, Luthor is played by two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey. Spacey's Luthor frequently indulges in Hackman-style comedy, but is generally angrier and more vengeful than the former's portrayal. At one point he compares himself to Prometheus in that, in taking the Kryptonian technology from the Fortress of Solitude for his own use, he is taking fire from the Gods and giving it to the people. Like his film predecessor, Spacey's Luthor is a scholarly crook; apparently well-educated but focused entirely on personal gain. He enjoys promoting himself through hyperbole, much like in previous films.
In the film, Lex Luthor has spent five years in prison, giving him a harder, more violent edge, as well as a desire for revenge on Superman. During Superman's disappearance, he is released from prison on an appeal.
He re-acquires funding for his criminal operations by seducing his elderly but wealthy benefactor Gertrude Vanderworth (portrayed by Noel Neill, who had played Lois Lane in the Superman serials as well as the 1950s television series, and had other cameo appearances in later Superman productions), and recruits several goons who had allied with him while in jail.
His machinations once again concern real estate, as they did in the first two films. Luthor plans to use crystals (like the one Superman used to create the Fortress of Solitude) stolen from Superman to create a new continent off the east coast of the United States, destroying all surrounding landmass in the process and killing billions of innocent civilians. In doing so, he will create a vast new real estate opportunity and spite Superman at the same time. By fusing the crystal together with kryptonite, the landmass also has the added effect of sapping Superman's powers when he is in proximity, giving Luthor the advantage. After his scheme fails, Luthor uses a helicopter to escape capture, but it runs out of fuel, stranding him on a deserted island.
Unlike Hackman's portrayal of the character, this Luthor seems to have grown comfortable being bald, despite several jokes made about his lack of hair throughout the film. Though Lex makes use of a number of wigs whenever he needs to disguise his appearance, in his private life he does without.
Kevin Spacey was signed on to reprise his role in the sequel before the film got canceled.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Eisenberg reprises his role in a post end credit scene in the 2017 film Justice League.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s syndicated television show Superboy, Luthor began as merely a scheming super-intelligent college student, played by Scott Wells. At the beginning of the second season, Luthor's personality took a dark turn as he killed a businessman and tried, unsuccessfully, to take his place via plastic surgery. This version was played by Sherman Howard. Howard's portrayal of Luthor harkened back to the mad scientist Luthor of the comics. It was later revealed that Luthor murdered his abusive parents in order to protect his sister Lena, whom he loved more than anything in the world. Her apparent death caused him to go insane and plan the destruction of all life, with only robot duplicates of himself and his sister remaining. It turned out that she had faked her death because she was ashamed of Luthor's notoriety as an evil criminal and wanted to be free of him. This caused him to reject her, although the robot duplicate of himself tried desperately to right everything in Lena's eyes.
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
In the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993–1997), Lex Luthor is played by actor John Shea. Here in the eyes of the public he is a (supposed) humanitarian who is beloved by all, but few have witnessed his true face.
Clark Kent/Superman spends a good deal of the first season trying to prove that Luthor is corrupt, while Luthor is bent on finding his weakness. In addition to staging tests for Superman's powers, Luthor comes up with dangerous plots for turning the public against Superman. At the end of season one, he acquires kryptonite and devises a trap for Superman that almost kills him, but Superman narrowly escapes when Luthor leaves him to his fate. Just as Lex is about to marry Lois, the truth about Luthor's evil nature is exposed and he takes his own life rather than face imprisonment and disgrace. Due to exposure to Luthor's kryptonite, Clark's powers were too weak and he could not save him.
Following the season one finale, Lex's corpse disappears from the coroner's office. The body resurfaces in a lab where a devoted scientist (played by Denise Crosby) freezes the remains and labors to bring Luthor back from the dead. As a side effect of his resurrection, Lex loses his hair, thus bringing him in line with his other incarnations. Lex is disenchanted with the changes that happened in Metropolis during his absence, notably the crime syndicate Intergang's stranglehold on the city, and by the news that his former fiancee Lois Lane and Clark Kent are now romantically involved.
Lex hides underground, again seeking kryptonite. But after kidnapping Lois in an attempt to reclaim her, he is traced to his sewer lair by Superman. Superman prevents Lex from taking his own life again to "cheat justice" and sends him to prison.
Luthor is later released through an illegitimate pardon issued by a clone of the President. He kidnaps Lois Lane and replaces her with a clone just before her wedding to Clark. Luthor hopes to transfer his and Lois' minds into clone bodies so they could never be found. Although Lex tricks the fake Lois into divulging Superman's secret identity, he fails in destroying Superman and in the ensuing destruction of his lab, is killed again.
Luthor's legacy lived on in his illegitimate sons, two of whom try to kill Superman over the course of two seasons.
The first one is Jaxon Xavier, who was played by Andrew Mark Berman. Luthor thought him a mistake and told the whole world he died in a car accident. He was employed at Lex Labs, but afterwards runs his own Virtual Reality centre. Jaxon traps Lois and Clark in the VR world to get access codes for his father's mind control system. Clark escapes, but Lois is still trapped. Superman and Jimmy hack into the virtual world to save her. After finding out that the only way to escape the VR world is to steal Jaxon's wristwatch escape window, the three taunt him to enter. They get the watch, leaving Jaxon stranded. He causes the VR system to crash, resulting in his mind being separated from his body and trapped in the VR world forever.
The second one is Lex Luthor Jr., played by Keith Brunsmann. He was facially deformed and disowned by his father, reduced to living in a furnished sewer/ train station beneath Metropolis. He hires a handsome stand-in (played by Patrick Cassidy) to serve as his public face as he secretly rebuilds his father's companies. While Lex Jr. and his imposter reconstruct an audio recording of the elder Luthor revealing the true identity of Superman, that knowledge is lost with them when both are killed in an explosion that levels the crypt.
Though Lois is skeptical that Lex could have fathered these children, who were already in their thirties, Clark maintains that no one can be sure of Luthor's true age since he was a "master of deception".
After Shea's departure from the show after the first season, the character of Lex Luthor was frequently built into dialogue. This softened Shea's absence, giving the character a lingering mystique and status on the show. He made appearances in four episodes: "The Phoenix", "Double Jeopardy", "Seconds" and "Shadow Of A Doubt" (His voice only) in the last three seasons.
The television series Smallville, which began in 2001, features a Lex Luthor, played by Michael Rosenbaum, whose history echoes many previous versions of the character, though this version of Lex did not start out as a bona fide villain.
In Smallville, Lex is heir to his father's fortune, again invoking the corrupt businessman version of the character.
This incarnation of Lex states his full name to be "Alexander Luthor", named after Alexander the Great; his father Lionel believes himself to be the business world version of Philip II of Macedonia. Smallville's Lex is shown to have been mutated during the meteor shower that brought Kal-El to Earth.
The explosion from the impact of a nearby meteor causes Lex's red hair to fall out. Kal-El's indirect involvement in Lex's hair loss can be seen in the Silver Age comic mythos. Years later, Lex would lose control of his Porsche and slam into Clark and off a bridge. It's when Clark saves his life that the two bond and become best friends. Smallville emphasizes Lex's journey to the evil, criminal mastermind that he will become later. It plays on his relationship with Clark and how that deteriorates into the mutual enmity that they will have in life.
Smallville portrays Lex's father, Lionel, with many of the same characteristics that Lex's comic book counterpart has. It's through this dysfunctional relationship that Smallville attempts to characterize how Lex eventually succumbs to his more evil side; early seasons focused on Lex's severely traumatic and loveless upbringing, a stark contrast to Clark's own idyllic childhood.
Though most of the first 3 seasons of Smallville show Lex as having noble efforts, especially with regard to how he is accepted by the townsfolk, it's during season 4 that Lex begins to head down the "dark" path of his comic book self. Lex tries to rectify his failing relationship with Clark, who he sees as his inspiration, even going so far as to tell Clark to "not give up on me". It's during season 5 that Lex's relationship with Clark finally ends, and his true machinations become apparent, when he has Clark, his parents, and Lana taken hostage in an effort to prove that Clark is hiding some secret abilities. He nearly manages to record evidence of Clark's true nature, but Clark is temporarily drained of his powers and Lex's efforts come to nothing. As resentment between the former friends grows, Lex further alienates Clark by becoming romantically involved with Lana Lang.
At the end of season 5, Brainiac manipulates Lex into being possessed by the consciousness of General Zod. After recovery at the beginning of season six, Lex focuses on a secret project called 33.1 based around capturing and studying people who have been infected by kryptonite in order to recreate their abilities, ostensibly to protect the world against further alien threats. This puts him at odds with Clark and his new ally, billionaire vigilante Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow with whom he went to boarding school. The animosity between Luthor and Queen's clique is portrayed in flashbacks, in which the young Lex is portrayed by Lucas Grabeel.
At the same time, Lex becomes engaged to Lana after she supposedly becomes pregnant with his child (it turned out that she had been drugged with a synthetic hormone to simulate pregnancy). At the end of season 6, Lex is arrested for the murder of his wife, Lana Lang, who appears to have been caught in an explosion triggered by a car bomb. However, at the beginning of Season 7, Lex is released when somebody paid by Lionel confesses the crime and it's later revealed Lana was alive and left a stand-in clone to forge her death. Lana had also stolen 10 million dollars from Lex, which he later allows her to keep for good as part of a divorce settlement. Since then, Lana's been obsessed with exposing anything bad about him. While searching for the truth about his past, Lex kills Lionel by pushing him out of his office window at LuthorCorp in season 7, saying no one will even remember his name. Lex then drags "Alexander" (a personification of himself as a child who acts as his conscience) to the fireplace and burns him, saying "You make me weak!" Lex later comes into possession of a strange object comprising various metal disks with star graphs on them, which turn to reveal a pair of rectangular slots. This device is somehow a necessity in controlling "the traveler," Clark Kent. In the season seven finale, Lex learns of the Fortress of Solitude from Brainiac, who is posing as Kara. Lex travels to the Fortress, taking the device with him, under the belief that he is fulfilling his own destiny to save mankind from "The Traveler". After arriving in the Fortress, Lex learns that Clark is "The Traveler". A confrontation between the two ensues and Lex activates the device, causing the Fortress to collapse with Clark and Lex both inside. Lex would survive, only to be killed in an explosion in Season Eight.
Knowing that his death could result from his visit to the Fortress, Lex - through Project Cadmus - had multiple clones of himself made. Each of the clones had accelerated growth factors which led them to become unstable. One clone, LX-3, was more dangerous than the others and was driven by Lex Luthor's memories. Imperfect, the scientists of Cadmus locked the clone away. However, it later escaped and murdered the scientists and all of the remaining clones except LX-15. After kidnapping Lois and making her into the Smallville High Scarecrow, Lex gave Clark an option: prevent the destruction of the Daily Planet or save Lois. Clark was able to do both and LX-3 died soon after. LX-15 survived under the care of Tess Mercer. In time LX-15, who called himself Alexander, started to remember Lex's memories and became more and more like his predecessor. Eventually he would escape from Tess' custody and located Lionel Luthor (a duplicate from a parallel Earth). Together they decided to eliminate Clark and Tess; however, LX-15 entered into a new stage of the cloning process and turned against Lionel. Losing the memories of Lex, LX-15 began to show Kryptonian traits. Lionel attempted to gain control over his "son" once again through Red Kryptonite, but Clark was able to free him from Lionel's control. LX-15 would soon afterward take on the name Conner Kent.
Defeated by LX-15 and removed from his control over LuthorCorp by Tess, Lionel Luthor visited the grave of the original Lex Luthor in Metropolis. As he stood over the site he wished for Lex's return, saying he would give anything to have his son back. Seconds later Darkseid appeared, presumably, to accept the offer to return Lex to his father.
Months later, Lionel kidnapped Tess so that he could take her heart and give it to Lex to revive him from death. It turns out that after the explosion caused by Oliver Queen, the remains of Lex was taken by Cadmus Labs and they begun turning him into a composite clone to ressurect him (taking cloned organs and body parts and fusing them to the original body). For the next two years Lex was whole again except for the scientists could not fully duplicate a perfect heart. After Tess shot Lionel, Lionel made a deal with Darkseid: For Darkseid reviving Lex, Lionel gave him his body and soul only wanting his son to live on. With Darkseid's help Lex received his heart and returned to life. Lex Luthor then visited Clark Kent at the burnt down mansion telling him of their future and that he has accepted his destiny and now it was his turn for evil needs its opposite. Lex then later returned to Luthorcorp and after killing his half sister Tess (Lutessa Lena Luthor), Tess left behind a memory wiping toxin that destroyed his memories of his immoral life. Lex Luthor with no memory walks to the window to see Apokolips heading towards Earth with the Luthorcorp sign breaking down and reading Lexcorp. Seven years later it is shown Lex wearing his white suit and black gloves has become the President of the United States.
DC Animated Universe
Superman: The Animated Series
Luthor in this version was again a corrupt businessman like his Post-Crisis comic book counterpart, and again his jealously and hatred of Superman ultimately brought down his empire.
According to the creators' commentaries on the First set of DVDs, this version of Luthor was inspired by Telly Savalas' interpretation of Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
After he was revealed as a criminal and lost his business empire (in the first season of Justice League), his characterization turned more toward the original conception of the character as a criminal genius obsessed with destroying Superman. Later, Luthor's character turned in an opposite way of his comics counterpart; he was pardoned after helping the Justice League defeat their alternate evil counterparts, the Justice Lords, with a power disruptor and implied to the press that he was thinking of going into politics.
Justice League Unlimited
In the second season of Justice League Unlimited, Luthor announced he was running for President of the United States. It was later revealed to be a ruse to enrage Superman. Luthor was revealed to be financially backing Project Cadmus, a shadow government organization devoted to stopping the League if they ever turned on the earth. Luthor then betrayed them, hi-jacking the League's space-based laser to take out Cadmus leaving the impression the League had attacked the United States government. While attempting to place his mind in a duplicate of A.M.A.Z.O., he was thwarted by Amanda Waller of Cadmus. At this point, it was revealed that Brainiac had possessed Luthor, secretly controlling his actions. After the two merged into a more complete being using alien nanotechnology, Luthor and Brainiac attempted to destroy the world but were stopped by The Flash.
Luthor returned later to join the Legion of Doom, but, ironically, not as the leader (Gorilla Grodd was the leader). Luthor agreed to join in order to obtain the last remaining piece of Brainiac, which Grodd has in his possession. Luthor is obsessed with rebuilding Brainiac, as what is left of him is inhabiting Luthor's mind, giving him a sort of multiple personality disorder. It is unclear to the viewer, however, if Brainiac really exists and inhabits his mind or if he is simply a mad figment of his imagination. Later on, using the failure of Grodd's silly masterplan to turn all humans into apes as pretext, Lex Luthor shot Gorilla Grodd and took over as leader, and imprisons Grodd.
After taking over as leader of the Legion, Luthor returned to his obsession of trying resurrect Brainiac. Using the power of the Legion headquarters, Luthor spent tireless hours trying to bring a fragment of Brainiac back online. After nearly destroying the headquarters' power supply, Luthor had Tala use her magic to garner any information from the fragment. Tala shows Luthor a vision of Brainiac's base (seen in the episode "Twilight") before its destruction and Luthor reconfigures the Legion base into a spaceship with hyperspace capability.
During the journey to the remnants of Brainiac's base, Tala frees Gorilla Grodd and he mounts an insurrection against Luthor with fellow Legion members. The battle climaxes with Luthor fighting Grodd in hand-to-hand combat. Just as Grodd moves to use his telepathic power on Luthor, Luthor uses his belt to take over Grodd's mind. Afterwards, Luthor forces Grodd into an airlock and jettisons him into space.
The Legion, back under Luthor's power, returns to their task of resurrecting Brainiac. Luthor hooks Tala up to a machine, reminiscent of Brainiac's machine used against Superman, to transmutate remnants of Brainiac's base back into a working body of Brainiac. Before Luthor begins the process, Metron stops time and appears to him warning that he may be unleashing something that will affect the past, present and future. Luthor, still obsessed with becoming a god, ignores him and the process begins.
However, although the process is successful, Luthor ends up resurrecting Darkseid, who attempts to destroy the Legion. The remnants of the Legion, under Luthor, go to the Justice League Watchtower to warn to the superheroes of the threat and insist on a temporary alliance in the defence of the planet. With the aid of the New God Metron, Luthor manages to acquire the Anti-Life Equation long sought by Darkseid, and uses it on the lord of Apokolips, (apparently) sacrificing his own life in the process. Batman, however, believes that the two survived, since no bodies were found in the area.
Superman: Brainiac Attacks
Lex Luthor was also featured in the direct-to-video animated movie Superman: Brainiac Attacks. Lex's character designs from Superman: The Animated Series, his job as a criminal businessman and his bodyguard Mercy Graves were used for this movie, but this version of Luthor acted similar to Gene Hackman's Luthor from Superman: The Movie. He constantly spouted one-liners and at one point threw a Tiki Torch Luau to celebrate Superman's presumed death. Lex Luthor was voiced by Powers Boothe in this movie.
Luthor's role in this movie had him forming an alliance with Brainiac (this is also treated as the first meeting between the two). He placed Brainiac in a new robot body and sent him to destroy Superman. Afterwards Brainiac would pretend to be defeated by Luthor and then leave Earth to conquer a different planet, while Luthor would appear as a hero to a people and then continue his quest to rule Earth. Naturally this plan failed, and it finish with luthor being defeated by Brainiac and an usual "Luthor under investigation" ending.
Lex Luthor will feature in the direct-to-video animated movie Superman: Doomsday. Lex's character design is similar to those seen in Superman: The Animated Series, but appears to be more along the lines of his Silver Age "evil genius" appearance than his more recent characterisation as a corporate tycoon. Luthor will be voiced by James Marsters in this movie; Marsters also portrayed villain [[Milton Fine a.k.a. Brainiac in the fifth and seventh season of Smallville. In the film, Luthor is indirectly responsible for the release of the creature Doomsday. Upon discovering that the latent radiation from the Earth's core can be harnessed for energy purposes, LexCorp has been illegally drilling into the earth. When Luthor's miners stumble upon Doomsday's alien spacecraft while digging, they accidentally damage it and awaken Doomsaday from his long slumber. After the creature slaughters the mining team, Luthor orders his personal assistant, Mercy Graves, to cover up his involvement. Following Superman and Doomsday's epic battle, Superman lies dead, and Luthor is free of all culpability. Rather than be pleased, Luthor is incensed that the evidence crediting him to Superman's death has been destroyed; he lashes out by killing Mercy with a handgun, despite the fact she was only following his orders. Luthor then robs Superman's body from his grave with the intention of creating genetic clones of him. The cloned Superman is more violent than the original, killing crooks, threatening civilians, and generally behaving like a public menace. Meanwhile, the real Superman's corpse disappears from LexCorp during an electrical blackout. Luthor is visited in his office by Lois Lane, who says she feels distant from her relationship with Superman (not knowing that he is a clone). Luthor tries to seduce her and they kiss, but Lois uses a tranquilizer on Luthor and knocks him unconscious; Lois believes he is the one behind Superman's strange behavior. Lois and Jimmy Olsen uncover Luthor's cloning project, but Luthor reappears and tries to shoot them. Fortunately, the cloned Superman has freed himself from Luthor's control and steps in to rescue Lois and Jimmy. Luthor escapes to a room with red sun beams, similar to Krypton's Red Sun, which will neutalize Superman's powers; he also dons kryptonite gloves, with the intention of beating the insolent clone to death. Instead, the clone traps Luthor in the vault, rips its foundation out of the building, and throws the vault across Metropolis. At the end of movie, it is revealed that Luthor survived, but with severe injuries.
Legion of Super Heroes animated series
In the Legion of Super Heroes episode "Legacy", the young Superman meets Alexis, the "richest girl in the galaxy" in the 30th century, who also has a knack with machinery and access to powerful technology. A redhead who wears a purple jumpsuit like Luthor's classic supervillain costume, she begins as a friend of Superman but by the end of the episode is twisted into a supervillain when the Kryptonian refuses to neglect his duties with the Legion in favor of herself. Also, at one point her hair falls out after she is recovered from the wreckage of a robot suit she was wearing. In the final scene, she appears to be regrowing her hair while in prison, and her prison uniform displays the name "Luthor" written in the Interlac alphabet. She was voiced by actress Tara Strong.
Krypto the Superdog
In the animated series, Krypto the Superdog, Luthor (who is also portrayed as a rich businessman in the series, though he is only rarely seen) has a pet iguana named Ignatius. Like Luthor, Ignatius is very intelligent, vain, and is morally ambivalent about making others suffer for personal gain; however, he tends to behave in a much less dignified manner than Luthor, and is more prone to engaging in frivolous (and dangerous) personal whims. Ignatius is voiced by Scott McNeil.
Ruby-Spears animated series
In the short-lived 1988 animated series produced by Ruby-Spears Enterprises, Luthor was shown as an evil businessman for the first time in other media. He is voiced by Michael Bell.
Luthor appeared in the fifth season of The Batman. Clancy Brown voices Luthor in this series. Clancy also voiced Luthor in the DC animated universe. Luthor hires Metallo and equips him with his only piece of Kryptonite he has to defeat Superman, but is defeated by Batman. Luthor hires Black Mask, Bane, Mr. Freeze, and Clayface (Basil Karlo) to kidnap Lois Lane while he leaves for Gotham with his right-hand assistant Mercy Graves. While Superman, Batman, and Robin fight Black Mask and his henchmen, Luthor captures Poison Ivy and mixes her mind controlling spores with the Kryptonite powder he already had . He uses it in Superman to become his personal slave. It is revealed also that Luthor had previously convenscated technology from the remains of the Joining, (considerably Brainiac's descendents), to create an army of robots to take over the world. However, after Batman frees Superman from his control, both of them subdue Mercy Graves, destroys Luthor's robots, overpower Luthor and defeat him.
Lex Luthor is a recurring character in most video games featuring Superman since the first Superman game released for the Atari 2600. He usually plays a villain. He is the main antagonist in the video game Justice League: Injustice for All. He has appeared in the Superman Returns game, but only appeared in the cut scenes. He also appeared as a playable character in the crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, as mentor to meta-powered villain players as well as opponent or occasional ally to hero players in DC Universe Online, and as a playable character in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Lex Luthor's full first name has over the years been variously spelled as Alexis, Alexei, and Alexander (currently his official first name), but originally "Lex" was not intended to be short for anything. In Latin, the name "Lex" translates as "law." He was not given a first name until more than a decade after his first appearance.
In Smallville, his full name is Alexander Luthor, after Alexander the Great, the historical general whom Lionel Luthor most admires and encourages his son to pattern himself after.
- In the animated cartoon Time Squad, Otto corrected Tuddrusell when He thought "Lewis and Clark" was "Lois and Clark". Despite Correcting him, he responds "But Who's Going To Protect The World From Lex Luthor?"
- On the sitcom Scrubs, Dr. Kelso compares Dr. Cox to Lex Luthor after Cox's haircut in My Long Goodbye.
- On the television series Robot Chicken, which uses action figures and other toys to create stop motion animation shorts, a Lex Luthor figure was featured as part of a carpool of villains (along with 1980s toy/cartoon villains Skeletor, Cobra Commander, and Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living).
- Professional wrestler Kurt Angle has stated in many interviews he based his performance as Evil General Manager on Lex Luthor. Wrestler Lex Luger (Larry Pfohl) selected his stage name in homage of the comic book character.
- Rapper Eminem made several references to both Superman and Lex Luthor in his song "Rain Man" from his 2004 album Encore.
- Michael J. Fox's character on Spin City, Mike Flaherty, mentions his hatred toward a particular reporter, saying "He's my Lex Luthor."
- In the episode of The Fairly OddParents where Cosmo and Wanda go to their high school reunion, there is a bully3 named Luthor Lex, and the bully is bald.
- A long-running feature in NGC Magazine was called Lex Luthor's Solve My Maze, a nonsensical puzzle (only occasionally was it actually a maze) which the reader was challenged to solve to "Win A Game!" It was based on a level from the infamous Superman 64 in which Lex asks Superman to "solve my maze" (even though there was no maze in the vicinity, only a series of rings to fly through).
- A villain named Lex Luthor, also voiced by Clancy Brown, appeared on The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. Show creator Judd Winick is a DC Comics writer so the name is assumed not to be a coincidence.
- In the Family Guy episode "Blind Ambition", Peter Griffin listens in on a Justice League meeting where Superman and the others are discussing Lex's plot to "irradiate the world's gold supply", a nod to Luthor's outlandish world domination schemes, and a reference to the James Bond film Goldfinger (in which the titular villain plans exactly that).
- In the live action films, Lex Luthor is portrayed by Gene Hackman, but in the fifth, Superman Returns, he is portrayed by Kevin Spacey. Both actors voiced a main villain of an ant movie. Gene Hackman is General Mandible from Antz, and Kevin Spacey is Hopper from A Bug's Life.