Not only is Supergirl offering us its on take on Kryptonian superheroism over on The CW, we also have Krypton coming later this year on Syfy. The former features Superman’s young cousin’s adventures (with the occasional appearance from the Man of Steel), while the latter will explore the days of Superman’s grandfather, decades before Krypton’s fateful explosion.
As if that weren’t enough, Warner Bros. Television recently announced that it was also developing Metropolis for its upcoming DC-branded streaming platform.
The 13-episode live-action series will star Lois Lane and Lex Luthor as an unlikely duo who investigate the strange and the bizarre in their fair city, before Superman makes his grand arrival. While it’s surprising to see yet another Superman-based series that will not feature Big Blue in a leading capacity, it’s almost as shocking to realize Metropolis will be the first of all three to feature Lex Luthor. And with the arrival of everyone’s favorite megalomaniacal businessman, this is the ideal time for DC to get Superman’s biggest foe (and sometimes ally) just right.
The most recent live-action portrayal of Lex Luthor was by Jesse Eisenberg in both Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. Eisenberg’s performance was, shall we say, divisive among fans. While he had his defenders, most audiences seemed to feel his depiction of Superman’s iconic foe was too far afield from the version we’ve read for decades in the comic books. The detractors were vocal, voicing the similarities between Eisenberg’s Luthor and characters like the Riddler and the Joker. Gone was the composed middle-aged businessman with a genius-level intellect, replaced instead by a young and unstable show-off with a penchant for elaborate schemes.
With Metropolis, DC finally has the chance to right the ship and give fans the Lex Luthor they’ve always envisioned, making him be true to his comic book self while molding him appropriately for the series’ premise. Of course, every live-action portrayal prior to Eisenberg had their own pros and cons, from Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey to John Shea and Michael Rosenbaum. Some fared better than others, yet all left their mark on the character. But none of them were 100% exactly the Lex Luthor from the comics.
After the Zuckerberg-inspired approach of the DC Extended Universe, Metropolis should take a step back and offer a take that is ripped right from the comic book page. The series is the perfect opportunity to show audiences a Lex Luthor that identifies as mankind’s savior. The partnership between him and Lois Lane should be one that is filled with mistrust and questionable motives, and their adventures together should build up to Lex eventually finding himself face-to-face with the Superman.
This time around, Luthor needs no origin story — he just needs to be true to what he is. He needs to be a genius, he needs to be threatening and commanding. He needs to be a master manipulator and a ruthless commander. And there has to be the tiniest glimmer of hope and redemption in his heart. A faint light, to be sure, but a spark nonetheless — something that reminds us that Lex could, one day, even bear the House of El insignia on his chest, if he would so choose.
Lex Luthor may be a villain, but he is the hero of his own story. With a series that shines a spotlight on award-winning reporter Lois Lane and his genius self, Metropolis has a golden opportunity to give fans the Lex Luthor they truly deserve.
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