The REAL Reason Lex Luthor Became a Supervillain

Lex Luthor is one of the most diabolical villains in the DC Universe, but what makes him tick? A recently revealed incident sheds some light.


Spoilers for Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 ahead

Lex Luthor is one of the most devious criminal masterminds in the DC Universe, and now readers find out just what makes him tick. In Dark Nights: Death Metal #5, by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, Luthor relates the story of an incident from his childhood to the heroes as DC’s Multiverse comes tumbling down and it offers fresh insight into just why Lex is the way he is.

In many ways, Lex Luthor is the quintessential villain: he is highly intelligent, cold-blooded, and possesses resources above and beyond the average villain. He was the king of Metropolis until Superman showed up and stole his thunder; since then, Lex has had a vendetta against not only Superman but many costumed heroes in general. Luthor’s ambitions to crush the heroes led him all the way to the Oval Office and even into the Justice League. Various stories over the years have attempted to peer into Luthor’s past and offered readers a glimpse into the events that shaped Luthor, and now fans get new revelations into what drives the madman.

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Related: Lex Luthor Completely Botched Learning Superman’s Identity

In Luthor’s hometown of Smallville, there was a planetarium that played a movie detailing the life cycle of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Big Crunch. Luthor, being a scientifically-minded child, loved the movie and watched it many times. One day, while watching it, the video played backward, starting with the end and running back to the beginning. Watching the universe being uncreated and unmade spooked a young Luthor, making him feel small by reminding him of how insignificant he was. Luthor did not like this feeling at all, and the implication is this was formative in shaping him into who he is today.

Lex Luthor Origin


This incident goes a long way in explaining Luthor’s motivations. Every scheme he concocts is big in some way, be it a plan to ruin Superman or become President of the United States. Luthor has a “go big or go home” mentality, and the planetarium incident puts this into context – Lex hates feeling small, and numerous people have suffered because of it.

There is a reason Luthor is considered one of the best villains not only at DC, but in comics in general: he is the perfect mix of intellect, cunning, and ambition, and in Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 fans get a glimpse of where this started. A simple accident led to the creation of one of the Universe’s greatest villains, Lex Luthor.

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Updated: November 17, 2020 — 2:04 pm

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