Posts Tagged ‘Lex Luthor’

Lex Luthor.  While not the most famous of villains in Science Fiction or Fantasy – that distinction goes to Darth Vader – he’s close, in most minds ranking equal to The Joker and Magneto (and unfortunately higher than my favorites, Ra’s Al Guhl and Darkseid); he’s the Gordon Gekko of DC Comics (unless someone wants to throw Bruce Wayne – not Batman – into that role).  Of these nefarious characters, he is the most relateable; yes, even more so than Magneto.  While some would certainly argue different as to the relateability of the character – probably because of Luthor’s stature and wealth – it’s the seven seasons of Smallville that make the case, thanks to a brilliant turn by Michael Rosenbaum.  It’s the transformation of Lex into the character the world has come to know that gives pause to ask “Would I have made the same decisions he did had I been in his shoes?”  and watch him make the smaller choices along the way that bring him to where he is as the show ends.  Which brings me to “Luthor Syndrome”.

What is it?  It’s the condition that Lex suffers from, a condition that you and I can suffer from too.  Lex Luthor was born into resources, born into wealth and power.  These circumstances helped lead him to believe that he was special, that he had a destiny and the means to achieve it.  He felt as if that end MUST be achieved, so that he could do greater things than his father did (the whole juxtaposition of the father/son relationship between Clark/Lex and Jonathan/Lionel is fantastic and a study in and of itself, especially in an age of such fatherlessness amongst youth).  Because of his roots, Lex felt that his destiny was owed to him – that he was entitled to it – and the choices he makes are justified in light of his embracing his purpose to rule (he finally becomes President by the time the show’s finale ends).  Before I go on, I want to make a quick point:  the idea of destiny isn’t a bad one at all, it’s how we choose to lay hold of and embrace it that can be a dangerous thing; it didn’t start that way for Lex, but he let it overtake him.

Curing one’s self of this disease is a great challenge and as the entirety of Curiosity’s recon mission to Mars didn’t happen in a day, neither will this.  It’s a rare individual who doesn’t desire to be more than they already are or more than society around us says we can – or should – be.  Most if us have it in us, I think it’s hard wired; the proof lies in our love of myth, triumph, and heroes who rise to greatness (and it hits home even more when movies like The Dark Knight Rises and Avengers crush the box office…and that’s just this summer; wait till we go back to Middle Earth in December).  There is something inside of all of us that looks at what culture says about us – or what we should be like – and our response is to prove them wrong and sometimes at great cost, for there are few whom society accepts on account of themselves and those whom are accepted are the ones the rest of us are told we should emulate…often to the detriment of giving up on who we are and creating an image we don’t even want.  Add too all this the idea – espoused by many in government today – that you have a “right” to just about anything you want – thusly entitled to it – and the curing is even more difficult.

Thanks to “Luthor Syndrome” living with some sort of “disability” can be even more of a challenge.  I’ve talked before about the “conventional wisdom of society”, that folks with disabilities are “less” in comparison to those without and how erroneous such thinking is; thinking prevalent enough to warrant more and more prenatal genetic testing for all sorts of conditions and disabilities.  Additionally, there is also the dark side of having a disability, the sense of entitlement that can come with perseverance.     As much as suffering through the difficulties that can arise from having a disability can lead to perseverance, and that perseverance can lead to character, it can also lead to a sense of  entitlement.   Sometimes, having persevered, having overcome, a sense of entitlement can creep in – a feeling that says “look what I’ve done; where is my reward…the world owes me a prize…look at what I’ve been through”  When that doesn’t happen, then comes anger, disappointment, resentment, disillusionment, and sometimes, even hate.  The steely, arctic truth is that we are owed nothing, yet so many  of us (living with disabilities and without) think that we are.  I live in this tension often.

As with many other things there is a choice to be made between character – often considered to be a positive element or quality – or entitlement. It’s much akin to a fork in the timestream, or watching a parallel dimension: in one, perseverance produces character (and subsequently, hope) and in the other entitlement is produced due to a lack of character.  This sense of entitlement, if not gratified but rather spurned and crushed, can lead back to the fear and anger from which one started.  Fortunately, there is a way to combat “Luthor Syndrome”: humility.  A friend once told me that “the best cure for entitlement is Scripture”.  Therein is the truth of our state in relation to the Creator and Master of the Universe.  Andrew Murray’s book on humility has also been suggested, fortunately it’s on one of my bookshelves.

The world we live in and the worlds we create for ourselves often aren’t nice places because of “Luthor Syndrome” – how would you fight it?

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Author’s Note:  This is a post/note written for Facebook in May 2011 at the conclusion  of Smallville on television.  Since then, it has been announced that Smallville will be continuing in comic book form from where it left off at the end of the 10 season finale.

As Bilbo once said, “I’m going now, this is the end; goodbye”  For Smallville fans, that was last night.  For the past decade the world has watched the story of how Clark Kent of Smallville, the Last Son of the planet Krypton, became Superman, the Man of Steel.   I have watched the show since shortly after it began, and have enjoyed it.  In this appreciation I am not alone – as my whole family watches it too – from my parents and brother to an aunt and uncle who are pretty much Lois and Clark in real life (my Uncle looks like Christopher Reeve).  While some enjoy the early seasons more, being a fan of the entire Superman mythos, I enjoyed the latter seasons to a greater degree once characters like Brainiac, Zod, Darkseid, and the fledgling Justice League (JLA) came into play.  (I also wonder how the latter seasons might have differed if Miles and Millar had stayed on as showrunners…as most of what I would consider missteps have occurred within the last three seasons).

I had trouble with Season 8 and the way Doomsday was portrayed.  I’ve watched the special features on Doomsday and how/why it was done this way, but trying to bring humanity to an entity that was created solely as a killing machine; I can see who fans who are more into Superman than I was might have stayed away.  I did enjoy the dichotomy of showing what Clark could have become if not for the influence of his earthly parents though.  The brightest spot in said season for me was Geoff Johns’s Legion episode with the Legion of Superheroes.  It reminded me much of the similar episode in Superman:  The Animated Series when the Legion comes back in time to help Clark defeat Brainiac – and much the same happened here, opening the door for James Marsters to return in Season 10 as Brainiac 5.  Another (smaller) highlight was the story of Lana’s exit and what a great execution of vengeance on Lex’s part that was – showing how power can often distance those who have it from everyone else.

Season 9 hold my favorite episode:  Absolute Justice, wherein the audience is introduced to the Justice Society of America (JSA) the precursor to the JLA. Everything was well executed, from the backstories to the casting, to the characters included; I just loved all 90 minuites of it.  To see Hawkman and Dr. Fate in action – just fantastic.  It edged out the Justice episode from Season 6, showing the beginnings of the League, which up until the JSA was the highest point in the series for me.

Season 10 had it’s hopes and high points (like Darkseid, Deathstroke, and the Finale) but I feel like Darkseid and his minions were underutilized.  Where was Steppenwolf?  Where was Wunderbar?  What about the ParaDemons?  Now I understand that a show can only do so much, but NO OMEGA BEAMS?  It’s Darkseid’s signature thing, as much a “finishing move” to him as one can find outside Mortal Kombat.  Speaking of Darksied, the whole idea to make him to be like Christ in the finale with all the talk of “end of days” “rapture” “salvation” and “apocalypse”? (I know they meant Apokolips)  The idea of Dessad, Granny Goodness, and Godfrey as “The Trinity”  That was overkill.  The idea of Clark being “Lucifer, the Bringer of Light” to save the world against Darkseid’s darkness?  I was sorely disappointed that the recent showrunners decided to do this with the finale, but this final season has had it’s share of pokes at those who are conservative in their politics and religious beliefs.  I really appreciated Gough and Millar staying away from that.  What’s more, while I liked Darkseid possessing Other-Lionel and Lex being given the “dark heart”, Clark beat him WAY too easy.  Put plainly, the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) has done Darkseid much better.

I will readily admit that one of the main things that drew me to the show was the portrayal of a younger Lex Luthor and how all that he is (as one of the greatest villains of all time) came to be.  A friendship and brotherhood with Clark Kent (and the events and choices that caused it to all disintegrate) was a large portion of a majority of the show.  Michael Rosenbaum was/is the best Lex; better than Clancy Brown in the DCAU, better than Spacey in Superman Returns, and leagues better than Hackman.  To see the struggle in the character and how family, environment, and expectations can form who a person becomes; tackling questions of destiny – these are large and important themes.  I will say that Lex became who he did because he CHOSE it, although he would argue it was always his fate.  It’s interesting to tackle issues of fate and freewill in the context of Heroes and Villains (but then again it’s been done with the Skywalker family too).  Lex’s return to the screen is one of the things that made the finale worth watching more than once, in spite of my previous criticism; I loved it.  To see the final “confrontation” between Clark and Lex, for them to realize who/what each of them are (as well as the other) was rewarding.

As the show progressed, and I grew over the last decade as it did, I began to appreciate more and more the role that John Schneider played as Jonathan Kent.  Seth and I met him recently and I think he was surprised that a whole family could be such fans we are (it is Seth’s favorite non-animated TV show).   Mr. Kent reminds me a lot of my Dad and as I’ve heard Mr. Schneider say in times past – Jonathan Kent represents the kind of man someone should be, an example to emulate.  Like Mr. Kent on Smallville, my Dad has done so much in my lifetime to teach, train, and provide for me.  TV doesn’t make me shed tears often, but the finale did, as my put myself in Clark’s shoes, trying to imagine a world in which I might be called to greatness without Dad there to be part of it – such a thought is beyond difficult for me.  In my own way I relate with the wisdom of both Clark’s parents in  beseeching him to not forget his past, even if it’s painful, because it is part of what makes him who he is (and so it is with all of us) – I know both my parents would say the same, and there are certainly things I would like to forget.

I would like to congratulate the minds behind the show and thank them for an ending worth a decade of waiting.  The last 5-7 minutes, I have watched over and over again. Chloe as a mom. Conner Queen/Hawke (Conner Queen/Hawke; with Warrior Angel PJ’s).  Perry White. Jimmy Olsen (with Aaron Ashmore back).  President Luthor. Lois and Clark.  The Shield.  The Theme. The End Credits.  All Brilliant.  All Wonderful.  I felt like a five year old on Christmas who just got a puppy. It’s been a fantastic ride, I, and the rest of the Welty clan will always be grateful for.

Long Live the House of EL; Always hold on to Smallville!

*cue John Williams*