Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyze a certain section of pop culture.
Lex Luthor. Superman’s most famous nemesis. Countless stories have shown how he’s evil and cruel and all that. One of the most famous super-villains ever. But is he really that bad? Or does he justifiable reasons for hating Superman? Well join me as I see whether Lex Luthor actually has a case against the Big Blue Boy Scout.
Lets start off with in-universe reasons about why Lex Luthor hates Superman by examining what Superman is. One of man’s greatest triumphs are the Great Pyramids. We don’t know how they were built, but they must have taken a lot of time. And taken quite a lot of hard work. Or the Great Wall of China. Take any achievement of man’s hard work and determination. Now think about how easy it’d be for Superman to do it. It’d take us years, nay decades to build the Pyramids or the Great Wall. But Superman could do it on an afternoon off. To him building the Great Wall wouldn’t be that difficult at all.
And there’s the key. Superman ridicules everything we can do. He makes our achievements look worthless in comparison. One of our greatest achievements, flight, is mocked by a man that can do it without effort. No matter what man achieves, we can’t ever seem to be able to beat Superman. He’ll always be better then us. That’s the justification Lex uses. He hates the idea of an alien, nay a God, coming down and over-shadowing man. This is what annoys him the most. He feels that Superman belittles everything that man has every achieved.
But that’s why he hates Superman. What about why he seemingly does other evil stuff? Well I will always maintain that the smarter someone is, the more likely they are to be isolated from their peers. But more then that, lets look at Luthor specifically. He was probably the brightest kid in class, getting straight A+. This ends up having two negative consequences. Firstly he’d be bullied relentlessly, because the smart kid always tends to be picked on (probably because smart people tend to be more isolated and quiet then louder, more out-going dumb people). However the other important consequence is how this affects his arrogance. Almost every day he’d get told that he’s brilliant, that he’s a genius, etc etc. This has a negative effect on one’s ego, since it makes him think he’s honestly that he’s better then everyone else. So combine the arrogance of someone who’s told he’s better then everyone else with the ability to be better then everyone else and you have a deadly mix.
So where does Superman come into this? Well Superman is someone who is better then Luthor. Not just in might, but in brains too. This frustrates Luthor’s ego. He can’t stand the idea of being ‘second-best’ to anyone, since it’s the first time in his life that he has to be. And he does the only logical thing in his mind: get rid of the competition. If he gets rid of Superman people would start paying attention to him again and flattering his ego. Superman is not only better then the human race and all it’s achievements; but he’s better than Luthor. And it’s that second one that really drives Luthor to do what he does.
So there’s two in-universe reasons to justify why Luthor does what he does. But how about an outside one? One that Luthor won’t admit to, but is probably a justifiable reason. Lex Luthor is envious of Superman, in both of terms of powers and admiration. Lex Luthor is greedy enough to want to be as powerful as Superman so he could better rule over the world. Luthor is power-hungry to want it.
But there’s another level underneath it. Another, hidden level. Lex Luthor envies how everyone loves Superman. How Superman has so many friends and allies. Even though Superman lost his home planet, he still seems to still beloved on Earth. This is what annoys Luthor more then anything. He wants to be as beloved as Superman, seen as the hero. He comes up with the idea that if Superman hadn’t existed he’d have been the hero instead, leading mankind into a golden age. This envy is what drives Luthor to try and destroy Superman, along with other reasons. So, is Lex Luthor a bad guy?
I ultimately say no, Lex Luthor isn’t a super-villain. He’s just misunderstood. He is a brilliant genius who’s been told all his life how great he is, only for Superman to turn up and best him in everything. He wanted to be the hero, but because of Superman stealing the spotlight he’s seen as the villain. Superman mocks everything that mankind ever achieved; as if God himself was stealing our thunder. So Lex Luthor’s motives for doing what he does can be justified within himself; and at the end of the day that’s all he needs.
So there you have it. A quick look at why Lex Luthor is evil. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.