- "Lex went insane."
- "Exactly. And if they could take the brightest mind on Earth and drive him crazy defending himself, imagine what they could do to you."
- —Lena and Lillian on Lex[src]
Lex Luthor is a billionaire industrialist, inventor and scientist, as well as one of the most intelligent people in the world and the best friend-turned-archenemy of Superman, whom he views as an obstacle to his megalomaniacal plans and as a threat to the very existence of humanity. A charismatic and well-known, yet controversial public figure, Lex is the former CEO of Luthor Corp, who was succeeded by his half-sister Lena following his incarceration for 32 consecutive life sentences.
Lex was born in Metropolis to his parents; billionaires Lionel and Lillian Luthor. He hails from one of the wealthiest and most prestigious family of the city and has proven to possess an extremely high intellect since early childhood, which made his mother greatly proud of him, often referring to him as a "genius" and being very close to him as he grow up.
After Lena (secretly Lionel's illegitimate daughter) was adopted into the Luthor family, Lex made her feel especially welcome and when they first met, they played a game of chess that the four-year-old girl eventually won. In their youth, he and Lena used to be very close, as she was the only person he trusted with the location of his secret mansion. As an adult though, Lex grew cold, power-mad and delusional straining his personal relationships; also, despite he was deeply loved by his mother and half-sister, it's strongly suggested that Lex had a difficult relationship with his father Lionel, who always favored Lena over him. Despite this, Lex inherited the family company after his father passed away.
Dealings with Superman
At some point Lex became best friends with the Kryptonian superhero Superman and the two initially tried to work together to repel the threat of alien invasions, but Lex's methods were far crueler than Superman's and, although the latter tried hard to trust his friend, defending him against accusations of others and continuing to give him several chances to atone for his wrong deeds, Lex ultimately proved unable to forever deceive Superman, who eventually realized Lex's true nature and this consequently resulted in a falling out between the pair. Shortly after this Lex came to believe that Superman himself was the cause of alien terrorism, as his presence attracted them and declared war on his former friend becoming his greatest enemy.
After he started targeting Superman, Lena grew concerned for his well being and tried to help him, but he ignored her and proceeded with his plans to destroy Superman committing unspeakable crimes in Metropolis, one of which was triggering a fault line in California with an "earthquake machine", which was tended to by the Kryptonian.
Over the years, Lex built many secret storage facilities around the world, where he keep various arsenals of weapons that he collected to defeat Superman once and for all.
After several years and various brutal encounters resulting in numerous fatalities, Lex was defeated by Superman, when the latter successfully exposes his crimes to the public, and he was incarcerated for thirty-seven consecutive life terms in Stryker's Island Penitentiary.
After Lena took over Luthor Corp, with plans to rename it L-Corp, moving to National City and atoning for Lex's crimes, he hired the assassin John Corben to assassinate her. However, his plan was thwarted by Superman and Supergirl, leading to Corben being nearly killed and later turned into the Kryptonite-powered cyborg known as Metallo by Cadmus, headed by Lex's mother.
Lex's imprisonment is part of the motivation of Lillian's vendetta against aliens as she stated she's determined to "protect" her children from the alien menace and also that her son, a "real Superman", was behind bars simply because he tried to regain the power Superman was taking away from humanity due to his alien propaganda; however, this is nothing more than the statement of a mad woman. During her anti-aliens crusade, Lillian also procures some weapons from Lex's mountain vault.
Due to Lex's actions, the Luthor family's name was tainted, to the point where most individuals are unwilling to or at least have difficulty trusting anyone with the last name "Luthor". Lena especially struggles with this as she tries to restore the Luthor family name.
It remains unknown if Lex ever found out the truth about Lena's parentage.
Lex is a human supremacist who truly believes his crusade against aliens to be a righteous one, as he committed unspeakable acts in his attempt to protect the planet Earth from alien invaders and alien manipulators.
Lex was once best friends with Clark Kent (under the guise of Superman) as the two initially tried to work together to repel the threat of alien invasions, but Lex's methods were far crueler than Clark's, although the latter tried hard to trust his friend, defending him against accusations of others and continuing to give him several chances to atone for his wrong deeds; once Clark realized Lex's true nature - this ultimately resulted in a falling out between the two.
Shortly after this fallout, Lex came to believe that Superman himself was the cause of alien terrorism, and so, becoming more insane than ever, he declared war on Superman and committed unspeakable crimes in Metropolis, to the point of setting off an earthquake in California; in an attempt to take down the superhero.
Lex's ruthlessness was not unique to aliens but extended to his own blood relations, as he hired the assassin John Corben to kill his half-sister, Lena Luthor, who he once deeply loved, simply because she was going to rename the family company from Luthor Corp to L-Corp; a decision that did not sit well with Lex as he was proud of his family name. These negative traits of his are what eventually led to Lex's incarceration.
Despite having a presumably difficult relationship with his dad and falling out with his half-sister, Lex remained fond of his mother, since she seemed to agree with his views. Lex even kept a portrait of Lillian in his mansion.
- Genius-level intellect/Great business acumen/Master tactician/Leader: Lex Luthor's intelligence is nearly unrivaled, making him among the most intelligent minds on Earth and one of the most intelligent members of the Luthor Family. His immense intelligence allowed him to very effectively perpetrate a war against the tremendously powerful Superman with many complex plans, plots and attacks against him, stalemating the highly experienced and intelligent superhero for several years and only being defeated after Clark exposed his true nature to the public. He is a near-flawless planner, able to assess and account for the numerous variables and from this effectively manipulate the situation to unfold as he sees fit. Furthermore, he was CEO of Luthor Corp, overseeing for years its daily activities and ensuring its success as a multibillion-dollar corporation. Lex is an exceptional leader and tactician, having set hideouts all around the world to collect weapons to defeat Superman or any sort of aliens-related threat.
- Indomitable will: A driven and determined person, Lex is nearly fearless and almost never gives up, as proven by his lifelong feud with Superman.
- Master of deception: Lex is exceptionally talented in the art of deception, he is able to fool and convince many others of his agenda, even if they're even experts of seeing through deception and extremely intelligent, to the point that he was able to keep up the façade of being merely a normal person of extreme intelligence and a famous CEO of Luthor Corp while silmutaneously fighting Superman to a long standstill, only being exposed as a criminal after Superman defeated and revealed his crimes to the public. His great profiency as a deceptor was so great that even Superman, despite his exceptional perception, was fooled into trusting him for years, although Lex was still not flawless as Superman was eventually able to see through his true nature.
- Expert hand-to-hand combatant: Lex is very accomplished in hand-to-hand combat, as while wearing his battle armor, which gives him the necessary physical powers needed to combat a Kryptonian, he proved to be able to single-handedly compete against the highly proficient Kryptonian fighter Superman. Although despite being able to put up a fierce fight to the point of stalemating the superhero many times, he is (seemingly) ultimately slightly less skilled as his ex-best friend, as Superman was eventually able to best and incarcerate him in their final and presumably prolonged encounter.
- Expert scientist/Engineer: Lex is a brilliant inventtor, specializing in various science field. An extremely talented engineer, he was able to create advanced devices such as an "earthquake machine" that triggered a fault line in California, a warsuit to argument his physical abilities and many other weapons. Lena herself admits that Lex outshines her in some fields of engineering.
- Network: Lex has a dense network of information throughout the world; despite being in a maximum security prison, he maintain enough influence and connections to hire the professional assassin John Corben.
- Short temper: Lex's primary weakness is consistently portrayed as a combination of his own arrogance, short temper and irascibility, as even Lillian Luthor describes him as an "hot head".
- Lexosuit: Lex has created a high-tech battle suit, nicknamed "Lexosuit", which gave him enhanced strength, durability, flight, energy blasts and advanced weaponry, among other capabilities. He used it to better match Superman.
- In the show it's strongly implied that Lex's baldness is an inherited trait which he gained from his father instead of something caused by an accident as generally represented.
Behind the scenes
- Lex Luthor first appeared in Action Comics #23 (April, 1940) and was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. He is considered to be the intelligent and ruthless archenemy of Superman. He usually appears as a brilliant scientist and sometimes corrupt billionaire industrialist, with personal vendetta against the Man of Steel. Even though he has always been a controversial figure in the public eye, he has also maintained political popularity, once serving as the President of the United States.
- Lex's act of creating an earthquake in California is a reference to the original 1978 Superman film, where Luthor's master plan was to use the quake to sink the west coast and turn the near-worthless desert real estate he'd bought up into valuable water-front property.