Superman & Lois Establishes A New Luthor
Lex Luthor was a shadowy presence in the early seasons of Superman & Lois, referenced but never shown on screen. Season 3 revealed that Luthor was imprisoned thanks to a story written by Lois Lane and evidence forged by rival crime boss Bruno Mannheim.
Luthor was released from prison in the penultimate episode of Superman & Lois season 3, “Injustice.” Played by Michael Cudlitz of The Walking Dead, this Luthor is more physically imposing than most incarnations of the character, which tend to emphasize the character’s business acumen. This was in keeping with what little had been revealed about this version of Lex Luthor, who was suggested to be more of a mobster masquerading as a legitimate businessman than a scientific genius.
Despite this, Cudlitz’s Lex Luthor proves his bona fides as a nemesis to both Superman and Lois Lane, whom he both blames for his incarceration. Single-minded and determined, he walks all the way from the prison to the Kent farm, where he delivers a demand that Lois Lane retire from writing. The unspoken threat being that if she doesn’t stop writing, he will stop her violently. This pettiness speaks to the core of Luthor’s character in every incarnation.
How Superman & Lois’ Luthor Compares To Smallville
There is nothing in Superman & Lois to suggest that its version of Lex Luthor ever enjoyed a friendship with Clark Kent similar to the one depicted in Smallville. While not every incarnation of Lex Luthor hailed from the same small town as the Man of Steel, the idea was first presented in the Silver Age of Comics and adapted by the long-running Superman show, which featured Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor.
Rosenbaum’s Luthor shares one notable trait with the one played by Michael Cudlitz; he is unlucky in love. The Lex Luthor of Superman &Lois was said to be married and had a teenage daughter when he was sent to prison 17 years earlier. Rosenbaum’s Luthor also got married several times, most notably to Lana Lang.
Nothing was revealed of Lex’s wife in the Superman & Lois episode “Injustice.” It was implied that she left him, however, by the fact that Lex abandoned his wedding ring when his belongings were returned to him upon leaving prison. Lex also mentions that his daughter refuses to speak to him, mimicking the difficult family life experienced by Rosenbaum’s Luthor.
How Superman & Lois’ Luthor Compares To The Arrowverse
The manic mad scientist Luthor played by Jon Cryer on the Supergirl show seemingly has little in common with Michael Cudlitz’s take, apart from sporting stylish beards to contrast with their bald pates. Physically, Jon Cryer’s Lex was less imposing, while still possessing an edge suggesting he might go for the throat of anyone who annoyed him. Cudlitz displays a similar attitude, comparable to that of the Arrowverse Lex Luthor.
How Superman & Lois’ Luthor Compares To Titans
Titus Welliver had a brief run as the Lex Luthor of Titans, playing the infamous villain in only a single episode before being killed off by the Church of Blood. Despite this, Welliver made an impression, leaving many hoping his Luthor would find a way to cheat death.
Welliver had one fantastic scene in the Titans season 4 episode “Lex Luthor,” in which his Luthor enjoyed a fine wine as he ignored Starfire fighting his security team in the next room. Michael Cudlitz has a similar scene in Superman & Lois, with a fellow inmate acting as his waiter and taking his lunch order as Lex indulges in a bottle of wine, having intimidated the warden into allowing him special privileges.