Follow TV Tropes

Following

Analysis of Lex Luthor

Go To

KazuyaProta There once was a man on Peru- from Spongebob's dreams Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
There once was a man on Peru-
Feb 12th 2018 at 11:20:30 AM

It still explains why Luthor wouldn't be particularly fond of the guy, for reasons other than petty jealousy

And , you know, that is far from justifying him at all.

edited 12th Feb '18 11:20:48 AM by KazuyaProta

Watch me destroying my country
Feb 12th 2018 at 11:22:14 AM

Not necessarily, but it certainly explains his attitude better than the various Freudian excuses or strawmanning usually piled on.

In addition, first of all, people who understood what Luthor was actually doing the second time Darksied invaded raise your hands.
Easy, and I don't even know if any supplementals state it (for that matter, the self-made-man part is explicitly described in the tie-in comics to STAS, as I noted a few pages ago). Per his meeting with Amazo, Luthor's purpose in life is to see "where it's all going", likely meaning ultimate knowledge of Life, the Universe and Everything. The Anti-Life equation is pretty much that sort of knowledge, which Luthor acquires, sort of "opens the file" together with Darkseid, and in the process removes them both from this place of existence, it having nothing further to offer them. Note he likely could've just got the equation for himself, so he still intentionally acted to save the world on goodwill alone. Also got Superman's respect as a bonus. All in all, it's a pretty nice ending to his character arc, from nobody to nightmare to... nebulous enlightened being or something. Again, my second favorite ending for Luthor, after Red Son. I hope they scramble something at least half as good when the next inevitable comic universe reboot arrives.

edited 12th Feb '18 11:30:17 AM by indiana404

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Feb 12th 2018 at 1:19:54 PM

Well, the first episode of Superman: The Animated series implies has Lex Luthor makes a large portion of his money selling illegal arms to countries under embargoes. He had his own robot for the US government stolen so he could sell it to a terrorist state under embargo so he could double his profits.

Wasn't it like a billion dollars for a giant robot in Not-Bosnia?

That was a nice way of establishing:

1. Lex is very smart 2. Lex does not give shits about the law. 3. Lex is very evil in the real world industrialist capitalist way versus mad scientist way

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Feb 12th 2018 at 5:19:08 PM

I always found Elliot S. Maggin's portrayal of Luthor (from the years just prior to Byrne's revamp) to be interesting. It was a Luthor who was out to kill Superman largely to prove his superiority, but who had actually never killed anyone (even though you could find plenty of stories by other writers that either have or allude to Luthor killing people). Maggin's Superman was frequently exasperated by Luthor, but felt he was entirely redeemable. Maggin as well had it that some time in the future Luthor would get over himself and become a boon to mankind, and a friend to Superman (going so far as to create an antidote for Kryptonite).

Now this was a kinder, gentler era, late Bronze Age and all, and I don't say that kind of Luthor would be workable now, but I feel it's an interesting portrayal. A "villain" who is a threat to no one but a hero who doesn't hate him, driven entirely by envy.

Ultimately, though, if Luthor didn't commit crimes, didn't attempt to hurt people, and left Superman alone, Superman wouldn't give a good goddamn about him (unless Superman is in the hands of a writer who insists that he be paranoid). Luthor, however, cannot tolerate Superman's existence. Unless Luthor's got him mind-controlled to do his bidding, Luthor cannot tolerate Superman.

edited 12th Feb '18 5:27:23 PM by Robbery

Sigilbreaker26 Serial Procrastinator
Serial Procrastinator
Feb 12th 2018 at 5:25:00 PM

That would work for a lighter and softer type of story, I think.

"And when the last law was down and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, the laws all being flat?"
Feb 12th 2018 at 5:58:37 PM

Guys, Indiana's started this argument, or a version of it, in about two dozen threads now. He's been doing it for four or five years. Every argument you guys are making to convince him? It's been made before, be it in this thread, one of the other comic threads or film threads, or any of the innumerable other threads that have been derailed by this discussion or one just like it.

This argument isn't being had in good faith. This argument hasn't been had in good faith in years. It's gotten to the point where I can predict his answers to your criticisms before he posts, simply by virtue of having seen this same convo play out 1000 times. So before you wear out your keyboards typing responses ask yourselves—is there any point putting in the effort?

Feb 12th 2018 at 6:02:06 PM

[up] Aaaannnnd I can already predict his answer to this post. "Well, is there any point in putting in effort on any thread here? Aren't we all just here to while away time caring way too much about people in long underwear (and the Armani-clad megalomaniacs they hate)?"

I say this in good humor, mind you.

edited 12th Feb '18 6:02:56 PM by Rubber_Lotus

KazuyaProta There once was a man on Peru- from Spongebob's dreams Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
There once was a man on Peru-
Feb 12th 2018 at 7:02:27 PM

[up][up] Yeah, this thread is basically us vs Indiana.

Well, what we do? Maybe we start to analyze Lex?

Is pretty good see how his character now is a fusion of his past selves, he was so iconic that two versions of him had to fuse to create him.

Where is exactly that we meet the "modern" Lex, a Lex that fills out the traits that are so common on him? The Mad Scientist that is a also a amazing bussinessman.

Watch me destroying my country
Mr.Badguy Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
Feb 12th 2018 at 7:05:15 PM

Probably Superman TAS. The 80s reinvention of Luthor was basically turning him into Donald Trump. TAS brought back a lot of the Mad Scientist aspects by filtering them through the lens of a mastermind and businessman.

KazuyaProta There once was a man on Peru- from Spongebob's dreams Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
There once was a man on Peru-
Feb 12th 2018 at 7:12:04 PM

[up] Interesting, that is amazing. That explain why I feel no disconect between the TAS version and the version in other comics. Pretty cool to see that the DCAU had such a influence.

Watch me destroying my country
Sigilbreaker26 Serial Procrastinator
Serial Procrastinator
Feb 12th 2018 at 7:24:41 PM

Essentially, the DCAU version has him be a mad scientist under the surface of being a businessman, which makes for a compelling transformation - the guise slowly falls away and he only becomes more dangerous. I honestly also think the moment where he combines with Brainiac may be the moment he was at his most terrifying. It takes a very particular set of balls to have your body turned into a meat puppet by an alien robot and then try and convince it to partner with you. Successfully.

"And when the last law was down and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, the laws all being flat?"
HandsomeRob Return of the Gangsta Bear! from Moopet Theatre Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Return of the Gangsta Bear!
Feb 12th 2018 at 8:32:09 PM

[up]

Agreed. Lex actually talking his way out of that one was a crowning moment of awesome for him.

Hell, he had nothing at all to offer, and not only did he find a way out of what should have been a death sentence, he (for a brief moment) ended up better off than he was before hand.

Once again, wokka wokka!
CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Feb 12th 2018 at 9:37:24 PM

Mind you, I do think a "Good" Lex Luthor story would be interesting.

Anyone read the Neil Gaiman/Death team up?

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Feb 12th 2018 at 11:08:17 PM

I can already predict his answer to this post.
I was actually thinking more about how, as I mentioned, the same people who most fervently decry Luthor as an unambiguous villain, also declare anathema against any version of Superman they personally don't agree with, refusing to accept it as valid. Including, in this particular case, the otherwise much beloved Reeve version. You can see how it's easy to get the impression of arguing in bad faith when the discussed character apparently exists only in one's head. Meanwhile, the anti-hero version of Luthor got at least a couple of years' worth of comics, without even ending by revealing him as evil all along, merely disillusioned with the whole thing.

One thing usually ignored when viewing Luthor is that he's explicitly measured against Superman, and only Superman, as if the two existed in a vacuum. Fact is, the average comic universe has a generally twenty-to-one ratio of malevolent to benevolent aliens, and Luthor is still someone to pitch in in a lot of cases Superman is incapacitated or even turned against humanity himself. That's why, as I noted earlier, I find these two concepts for Luthor to be the most workable - the well-intentioned extremist who actually has a point or two, and the egotistical megalomaniac whose efforts still benefit humanity, if for all the wrong reasons. If anything, the latter is even preferable, since I've gotten tired with villains presenting otherwise reasonable philosophies, only to be revealed as malicious hypocrites should their points prove too strong to be countered rationally. I'm pretty sure Superman already has plenty of such villains already... and it hasn't done him any favors.

Nightwire Humans inferior. Ultron superior. Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
Humans inferior. Ultron superior.
Feb 12th 2018 at 11:16:07 PM

Guys, let's just ignore Indiana. He has shown repeatedly not be interested in discussing this in good faith, so let's just continue our discussion.

Man, sometimes I really do miss Elliot S Maggin's Luthor, someone who geniunely hates the hero they are opposite but is otherwise almost a Punch-Clock Villain. I wish he would pop up again on one of the alternate Earth.

Bite my shiny Vibranium ass, Avengers.
Ikedatakeshi God of Worf from singapore Relationship Status: Singularity
God of Worf
Feb 13th 2018 at 1:02:17 AM

All the things Indiana says fit more closely with Amanda Waller, who didn't have the privilege of being a super genius and is a black overweight widow who clawed her way to her position. Granted, she also does shady shit comparable to Luthor, but being self-reliant would fit her way better.

Nightwire Humans inferior. Ultron superior. Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
Humans inferior. Ultron superior.
Feb 13th 2018 at 1:09:40 AM

You know, Megamind is probably the closest thing we've got to an adaptation of Maggin!Luthor.

edited 13th Feb '18 1:11:08 AM by Nightwire

Bite my shiny Vibranium ass, Avengers.
Feb 13th 2018 at 1:32:44 AM

[up][up]I actually agree with that. Waller is another of those characters that would be incredible if left to develop organically, but are far too often deconstructed as being manipulative for its own sake, lest they make too good a point. A lot of my less than enamored attitude toward the Justice League stems precisely from the Cadmus incident in the DCAU, where the rather reasonable idea that superheroes might act against humanity (reasonable given not only the Justice Lords crisis but also Superman's own brainwashed rampage of conquest) and it's wise to prepare for such occasions, was met with abject hostility. When you answer the perennial question of who watches the watchmen with "nobody but themselves", and treat it as a good thing, it's only expected for suspicions to be exacerbated rather than alleviated, and the people who voice them to sound that much more convincing, be it Waller, Luthor, or the guy who admitted to wearing a Wonder Woman costume in Justice League: War. If that's writers' own attitude toward criticism, then the reactions in this thread are positively mild by comparison.

The thing to consider here, is that in the modern industry there are stories that feature Superman, Batman and the other staple capes, without actually starring them. Titles that show them from the perspective of other characters, including other heroes, that don't necessarily gush over them just because they're the ones with guaranteed ongoing series. So when fans do present opinions based on these differing points of view, they're just as valid as what is said in the books contractually designed to never give a hero anything but favorable portrayal... and never mind the irony in writers perpetually disagreeing as to what that might be.

edited 13th Feb '18 1:47:28 AM by indiana404

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Feb 13th 2018 at 3:40:08 AM

I'd be interested in discussing the Elseworlds and Alternate Supermen you dislike, Indiana actually, as I think they're valuable characters to discuss.

I also like folk like Injustice Supermen.

Who are the kind of people who I think actually try to tackle the "fundamentals" of problems unlike Superman who is normally just a Punch-Clock Hero, IMHO, versus The Messiah.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Feb 13th 2018 at 4:18:46 AM

I'd say the main problem with Superman nowadays - specifically with how he's written in team titles and his appearances in other heroes' books - is that he has indeed gone beyond just a punch-clock hero who helps in emergencies but otherwise stays out of the spotlight. Instead, he's very often used as a universal and irreproachable mouthpiece for writers' own views, often against characters whose only fault is that they're digging into his market share in the real world. Coupled with DC's consistent inability to handle somewhat more ruthless heroes and the situations that warrant them, it's not hard to see how he could be considered as imposing rather than actually caring about people's needs... not unlike Luthor himself.

In situations such as the aforementioned New Frontier incident, Superman is someone who can arrive too late to protect innocents, only to get indignant when the survivors choose their own means to exact retribution, which conflict with his ideals. In the Elite crisis, he defended a status quo more likely to try and utilize supervillains as barely-managed power sources, rather than ensure people's protection. In Kingdom Come, he retired when he met similar anti-heroes he couldn't beat up. And in Men of Steel, he assaulted Luthor not because he was engaged in any criminal activity - whereas Superman himself had broken into his records in search of dirt - but because he had the gall to openly style himself as a superhero.

All things considered, I'd say writers have swerved deeply into moral myopia regarding which of the two is actually more concerned about his public image rather than actually helping anyone. No doubt there's a level of real life concerns affecting the books, anxiety over sales and popularity erupting inside the stories themselves in the form of straw competitors to be beaten up. But at face value, you just have a guy unable to accept not having a finger in every pie, against a villain that's supposed to exhibit that attitude, but has actually grown a lot more complex in recent years.

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Feb 13th 2018 at 7:35:08 AM

Good examples,

Honestly, the Moral Myopia of Kingdom Come is meant to be deliberate though because Superman becoming Achilles in His Tent is meant to be a failure on his behalf. In that respect, Superman has retired because he doesn't believe what Magog did was heroic but it's also something he's deeply ambivalent about. Magog is the one who avenged the death of

Superman's wife as well as all of his friends at the Daily Planet but he's done so by just walking up and blasting the guy. There was nothing heroic about Magog's execution but he's treated as a public figure. We also know Magog eventually destroys Kansas because he's neither talented or capable enough to manage his abilities properly.

Mind you, I always have felt Kingdom Come has a misunderstood aesop because while people talk about how it's all about the GOOD GUYS winning over the BAD HEROES, I tend t view it in the context of them needing to learn to get along. Because Superman running a gulag to make the antiheroes shape up isn't helping matters either.

I do think the idea of Archetype Lex Luthor vs. Character Lex Luthor is an interesting point, though. I always worry about Alternate Character Interpretations, though, because any story which frames Lex Luthor as the good guy over Superman often seems like it's changing something a bit too fundamental. I think my favorite, though, is Superman: Red Son where Lex Luthor isn't changed in the slightest but he's the "hero."

edited 13th Feb '18 7:36:35 AM by CharlesPhipps

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Feb 13th 2018 at 8:30:14 AM

You can see how it's easy to get the impression of arguing in bad faith when the discussed character apparently exists only in one's head.

Translation: "every time I link to a bad Elseworld's story in order to criticize the mainstream Superman, people have the gall to point out that it's not the mainstream Superman."

You've been making the same tired criticisms of DC for years now. You had half a point when you were talking about how to fix the Batman/Joker enmity, but lost the plot the moment you tried to declare that Superman/Luthor suffered from the same problems, and it's been all downhill from there.

You're not telling us anything new whenever you bring up a bad Superman story. We already knew those stories were bad, and even if we hadn't, you've been criticizing those same few stories (as if they were representative of the comics as a whole) for years now. Yes, Kingdom Come is a bad story. We know. We've known that for years.

You've made your case. You've been making it since I was in undergrad. We all responded to you the first time. You haven't changed your tune since then, and it's time to let this conversation go, because there's nothing new to say. You aren't going to change your mind, and you're not likely to change anyone else's.

You want the xenophobic corporate titan to be portrayed as a good person or at least as "having a point" when it comes to his xenophobia. We get it. We know you want that, and we have a pretty good idea of why you want that.

How about talking about something new?

edited 13th Feb '18 8:31:28 AM by AmbarSonofDeshar

Nightwire Humans inferior. Ultron superior. Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
Humans inferior. Ultron superior.
Feb 13th 2018 at 8:35:38 AM

Yes, let's please. I just want to talk Luthor and Superman without bullshit. Please, just stop engaging in conversations with Indiana if he doesn't want to change his tune.

Bite my shiny Vibranium ass, Avengers.
Feb 13th 2018 at 8:35:43 AM

[up][up]The New Frontier is a bad Elseworlds? How dare you, Sir.

edited 13th Feb '18 8:36:54 AM by Rubber_Lotus

Feb 13th 2018 at 8:48:07 AM

So what's stopping you from talking about something new?

Because Superman running a gulag to make the antiheroes shape up isn't helping matters either.
Pretty much, yeah. There should be the admission that neither way is universal, but either can be valid depending on the situation. Similarly, when I mention baseline human organizations pitching in the hero business proper, my vision is that there's more than enough villains to go around, especially if writers actually exercise their imaginations and produce more one-shot threats. Thus, there's no need to get the shivers whenever Superman just isn't the best hero for a particular case. There have even been moments when Superman was turned against humanity, and it was precisely Luthor that had to protect it. STAS really missed a golden opportunity to show him regaining the public's trust, rather than end immediately after that crisis. Consequently, the points Luthor makes remain valid, whether or not he's deconstructed as to not actually believing in them or whatever. That's what I find to be the main draw of the character, with an even greater potential than Magneto the mutant supremacist, or the literal tinpot dictator that is Doom.


Total posts: 548
Top

Example of:

/

Feedback