Lex Luthor is perhaps one of the greatest comic book supervillains ever created. Consistently depicted as one of the greatest minds in the world, Luthor has always used his incredible intellect and business skills for his own selfish gains. Instead of curing diseases, feeding the poor, or making incredible advances in the technology community, Luthor has instead focused on committing crimes and harming innocents, all in the name of ridding the world of Superman.
Lex Luthor has long used the presence of the Man of Steel as a crutch for why he hasn’t already saved the world. If it wasn’t for Superman, he could be so much better and humanity would be so much better for it. Time and again, it’s been proven that Luthor is really just a selfish and cruel man who is unable to get out of the way of his own ego. However, that doesn’t mean that Lex hasn’t done some good along the way too. Whether he does it for those in need, or more likely, for his own personal gain, it cannot be denied that Lex has done his fair share of good deeds and superheroics over the years. Here is a look at 15 times Lex Luthor has saved the day.
15 LEX REBUILDS GOTHAM
In the 1998 event series known as Cataclysm, Gotham City suffers a devastating earthquake that destroys much of the city. This event is followed by the 1999 No Man’s Land storyline, where the government abandons Gotham and quarantines the city. Batman and his allies spend the rest of the year trying to keep the remaining residents alive while fighting off criminals from taking over what is left. It isn’t until Lex Luthor gets involved that Gotham City has the chance to rebuild.
Using his incredible resources, Lexcorp successfully reconstructs the city in record time. The effort endears him to the American public and actually kickstarted his career in politics. Of course, Luthor’s motivations are far from pure. As it turned out, he attempted to acquire the property he was fixing in order to take control of Gotham City. Batman and Lucius Fox were able to prevent the takeover but could not stop Luthor’s rise in popularity.
14 PRESIDENT LEX
During his time as President of the United States, Lex Luthor was forced to deal with the invasion of the cosmic entity known as Imperiex in the line-wide crossover called Our Worlds at War. As Commander-in-Chief of America’s armed forces, Lex Luthor led the military in a worldwide attack on Imperiex, which ultimately resulted in them cracking the armor of the destructive invader.
The cosmic energy inside Imperiex dispersed, but those energies were collected by Brainiac 13 and stored inside Warworld. With this new threat ready to destroy all of creation, Luthor, Darkseid, Superman and Steel put a plan in motion in Action Comics #782 that would finally end the threat. Luthor combined the futuristic technologies of Lex Towers with the Boom Tube of the New Gods in order to send Brainiac 13 and Imperiex back to the big bang to be destroyed.
13 LEX SAVES SUPERBOY
In 1960, DC Comics tells the story of how a young Lex Luthor and Superboy first met in the pages of Adventure Comics #271. Luthor moves to Smallville and the young Clark Kent comes to introduce himself. Suddenly, a kryptonite meteor falls to Earth (of all the luck!) and Superboy begins to feel the effects of the rock. Still a somewhat decent human being at this point in his life, Lex quickly helps the suffering Kryptonian by dumping the meteor into the river.
In return for saving his life, Superboy constructs Luthor a fully functioning laboratory in a matter of seconds. Things go downhill from here, though. While trying to develop a cure for kryptonite, Lex starts a fire in his lab. Superboy comes to save him by blowing the fire out, and he accidentally causes Luthor to go bald. It might have been an accident, but the young Lex Luthor takes it personally and a lasting hatred was born.
12 LEX BUILDS A UTOPIA
For much of Superman: Red Son, Lex Luthor is presented as the villain. Mark Millar tells an alternate universe tale about what would happen if Superman’s spaceship landed in Soviet Russia. After rising to power under Joseph Stalin, Superman takes over control of the government and turns the empire into a utopia. In the meantime, Luthor is America’s leading scientist, and he plots the downfall of the alien leader while the United States begins to falter.
Luthor eventually becomes president and proves to be instrumental in fighting off a Soviet invasion led by Superman. After the Russian ruler is thought to be killed, Lex Luthor uses many of his philosophies to establish Luthorism and a Global United States. This ultimately changes life on Earth for the better as a worldwide peace is established and great scientific achievements rid the world of diseases.
11 LEX FINDS SALVATION
In the run up to Final Crisis, the US government decided to round up the world’s supervillains and send them off to a prison planet somewhere out in space. The criminals were left to their own devices on a completely inhospitable world complete with alien invaders and booby traps. It didn’t take long before the likes of the Joker, Gorilla Grodd, and Lex Luthor came to blows, with chaos erupting and many villains dying.
Throughout the course of Salvation Run, Lex Luthor is determined to find a way to beat the hazardous planet and get everyone back to Earth. While it’s mostly about saving himself from a living hell, he is not above taking on the role of savior. He finally completes a makeshift teleporter using Heatmonger, Thunder, Lightning, Plasmus, Neutron, and Warp to power the machine. He sacrifices them to save everyone and declare victory.
10 LEX SAVES LEXOR
The planet that would come to be known as Lexor first appeared in Superman #164 from 1963. It is where Lex Luthor and a depowered Superman travel to have a one-on-one fight that would finally decide their rivalry. Luthor actually ends up helping the inhabitants of the planet rediscover their lost technology and rebuild their society. He convinces Superman to help find them water, and he stabilizes the planet’s core.
His heroic deeds lead to the inhabitants renaming their world as Lexor, and they make him the ruler of their society. Luthor would even marry and have a child while living among his new people. Unfortunately, his need to commit crimes ultimately ruin him. A confrontation with Superman leads to the planet’s destruction, but for a time, Lex Luthor was a hero.
9 LEX STOPS THE PHANTOM ZONE GOD
In 2010, Paul Cornell made Lex Luthor the main character of Action Comics from #890-900, taking him on a quest for the power of a Black Lantern ring. At the climax of the story, Luthor uses Black Lantern energy to open a hole in the Phantom Zone and unleash a monstrous inter-dimensional beast. The monster plans to destroy all life in the universe because negative emotions bring it pain.
Luthor uses Kryptonian technology to interface with the creature and seemingly merges with the being to take on a new, all-powerful form. He successfully prevents the creature from destroying the universe but then tries to use his new power for his own selfish reasons. Superman tries to convince him to help mankind, but Luthor loses control of the creature and it escapes.
8 FOREVER LEX
During the events of Forever Evil, Nightwing is captured by the Crime Syndicate and is unmasked on live television. Batman and Lex Luthor eventually find him being held within a contraption known as the Murder Machine, which was meant to imprison Doomsday. The machine will explode unless Dick Grayson dies.
Seeing no other choice, Luthor stops Grayson’s heart in order to prevent the bomb from going off. Batman attacks him for killing his "son," but Luthor proves that he has everything under control. After snuffing out Grayson, he is able to deactivate the bomb, saving countless lives. Luthor then uses his super-suit to restart Nightwing’s heart and bring him back to life. Batman actually could have done more harm than good by preventing our hero from doing the real work that needed to be done!
7 LEX KILLS MAZAHS
At the climax of Forever Evil, Lex Luthor is involved in the fight against his Earth-3 counterpart known as Alexander Luthor. As an evil version of Shazam, Alexander uses the power of Mazahs to absorb the powers of others and kill his enemies. The superpowered Luthor attempts to overthrow the Crime Syndicate before he comes into conflict with Earth’s own faction of villains.
In the fight against Mazahs, Deathstorm and Bizarro are both killed. He then proves to be no match for Earth’s Lex Luthor. Noticing that the two have the same voice, Lex is able to call down the lightning and strip his counterpart of his abilities. Now weak and powerless, Lex kills Alexander Luthor before he can change back.
6 LEX THE LIBERATOR
During Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, the villain known as Libra re-forms the Secret Society of Supervillains and makes them far more effective and dangerous than ever before. He leads them in the killing of the Martian Manhunter, and organizes the bombing of the Daily Planet, which nearly kills Lois Lane. As one of the premiere villains in the DC Universe, Lex Luthor is front and center for all of these acts.
When it becomes clear that Libra is working for Darkseid and is attempting to take over the world, Luthor begins to have second thoughts. Libra enslaves most of the villains using Justifier helmets that broadcast the Anti-Life Equation to their wearers, making them mindless puppets. Lex Luthor and Dr. Sivana work together to undo the Justifier programming and free the world from slavery. Luthor also successfully takes Libra off the board. In the end, it turned out that Luthor was helping the resistance against Darkseid for a long time.
5 LEX STOPS THE JUSTICE LORDS
In the 2003 Justice League episode “A Better World,” Lex Luthor becomes President of the United States and kills the Flash on an alternate world. Superman, in turn, murders Luthor and the Justice Lords take over the world. The team eventually comes into contact with the Justice League, and they decide to invade the Earth to make it just like their own reality.
The Luthor of the show’s prime reality is still a criminal, but he does step up to help save the world from the oppression of the Justice Lords. The two super teams prove to be evenly matched in a fight, so Superman brings Lex Luthor to the party. He promptly uses his energy disruptor device that strips the Justice Lords of their powers. Instead of doing the same to the Justice League, Luthor honors his agreement, and he is given a presidential pardon.
4 LEX STOPS ZOD'S INVASION
In Superman: Last Son, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, and Adam Kubert tell the story of an invasion by the Phantom Zone criminals. Zod, Non, Ursa, and an army of Kryptonians destroy much of Metropolis, while Superman is imprisoned inside the Phantom Zone. With no one else to stand in their way, Lex Luthor gathers Parasite, Bizarro, and Metallo into a new Superman Revenge Squad and begins to fight back.
When Superman returns to Earth, Luthor forces him to work with them to end the threat. He also devises the plan to send the criminals back to the Phantom Zone, however, he also plans to trap Superman there as well. Lois Lane prevents this from happening, but it isn’t until the young Chris Kent returns to the Zone that the portal finally closes. The story ends with Luthor unconscious, but he at least deserved partial credit for saving the day.
3 LEX FINDS THE CURE
Following the events of Forever Evil, Lex Luthor becomes a member of the Justice League. The 2014 storyline "The Amazo Virus" tells the story of a deadly viral outbreak that gives the infected dangerous superpowers before ultimately killing them. Subject Zero turns into an organic version of the supervillain Amazo.
During the course of the story, Lex Luthor attempts to find a cure for the virus. It turns out that Luthor initially created the virus in an attempt to attack Superman and his Kryptonian DNA, but the virus had outgrown its original purpose and became far more deadly than ever intended. In reaction to this revelation, Superman demands that Luthor be kicked off the team; however, the former supervillain uses the Man of Steel’s blood to successfully discover a cure.
2 SUPER LEX IN ACTION
Following the death of the New 52 Superman, Lex Luthor decides he will take his rightful place as the new hero of Metropolis. He dons a Superman-themed super suit and sets out saving the people of his city while trying to take on the identity of the next Man of Steel. He makes his presence known in Action Comics #957 by easily defusing a hostage situation. Unfortunately, when he addresses the public, no one seems to accept his new role as a hero. Then the Pre-Flashpoint Superman shows up and things get ugly.
Their confrontation is cut short when Doomsday suddenly arrives onto the scene and the two Supermen must work together to stop the monster’s rampage through town. While Lex doesn’t seem strong enough to stand up to Doomsday, he does help to diminish collateral damage by saving citizens stuck in the rubble and fire.
1 LEX IS THE DARKSEID DESTROYER
In the series finale of Justice League Unlimited, the 2006 episode “Destroyer” ends with Lex Luthor as the hero to save the Earth. Darkseid leads an invasion that could destroy the entire world. While the Justice League attempt to fight off the New God’s forces, Luthor and the remaining members of the Legion of Doom join the fray.
Luthor convinces Metron to help him find the one way to stop Darkseid, and they end up at the Source Wall. Lex travels to the other side and enters the Source in order to bring back the Anti-Life Equation, which Darkseid has sought for ages. He returns to Earth just in time to save Superman from death, and he uses his new powers to make him and the evil god disappear. Lex Luthor goes out in a blaze of glory that actually saves the world once and for all.
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