Whether you prefer Jesse Eisenberg, Kevin Spacey, Michael Rosenbaum, or Gene Hackman; Injustice or Lego Batman; chances are we can all agree on the singular genius of Superman’s archnemesis, Lex Luthor.
He founded the Leagion of Doom, he’s outmatched just about every member of the Justice League, he is a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist to rival Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, and he’s even spent three years as leader of a country, during which time he successfully led the country against an alien invasion.
Like all DC Comics characters (and indeed most comic book characters across the board), Luthor hides some pretty weird physical and mental traits. Since his first comic book appearance in Action Comics #23 in 1940, he’s undergone some dramatic transformations, survived cataclysmic, universe-altering events, and (like most comic characters) has even lost his life several times.
Over the years, Luthor has employed just about every dastardly tool under the yellow sun in his attempts to undermine and destroy the Man of Steel. Most of the items on this list were only temporary features: superhuman enhancements and their wicked side effects. You will not believe some of the things Lex Luthor has put himself and his body through in the name of taking down his nemesis and furthering his own wicked goals.
Here are 20 Weirdest Things About Lex Luthor’s Body.
20 The Various Causes Of His Baldness
Depending on which DC canon you adhere to, Lex Luthor once sported a full head of either red or brown hair, and in some cases, he even had a beard.
In the first iteration of his origin story, published in 1960, his premature baldness is inadvertently caused by Superboy, who mistimes his frost breath while extinguishing a fire, and knocks some miscellaneous chemicals onto Luthor, which disintegrate his hair.
During the 1980s, when the canon was rewritten, his baldness became a hereditary feature, and therefore hardly worth mentioning.
It wasn’t until 2004 that the writers gave him another artificial cause for hair-loss: a fiery explosion.
It’s unclear why a fire would cause permanent baldness and not leave any scarring.
19 He Has Survived Nuclear Blasts
Finally, something he has in common with Kal-El. Lex Luthor has quite the torrid history with nuclear energy, and in particular atomic blasts.
Arriving on the scene in 1940, it wasn’t long before nuclear energy became something of a hot topic.
Luthor soon earned the distinction of being the very first comic book character ever to use an atomic weapon.
This story line was written in 1944, but its accuracy was so alarming, the War Department delayed publication until 1946, due to the secrecy of the Manhattan Project. Think about that.
Fast forward a few decades and Luthor is still using the devastating technology. At one point, he triggered a succession of nuclear blasts, but survived.
18 He Used Bane’s “Venom” To Fight Superman
If you’ve read a lot of Batman comics or have played any of the Arkham Asylum games, you’re probably familiar with the steroid “venom,” which gives Bane his super-strength. While using this serum, Bane managed to defeat Batman, breaking his spine. He also went toe-to-toe with Killer Croc and broke both of his arms. This steroid is no joke.
Seeing as how no normal human could ever match Superman in a fistfight, Lex Luthor once employed “venom” in an attempt to give himself an edge. It didn’t work, but it was worth a shot.
Not only was Superman still stronger, but Luthor suffered one of the venom’s most common side effects: temporary insanity.
17 Brainiac Once “Wore” His Body
Ever heard the phrase, “If you mess with the bull, you get the horns”? Well, if you mess with Brainiac, you get eliminated and his disembodied consciousness wears your husk like a suit.
Luthor fused his body with Brainiac’s robotic head, only to discover that the alien’s mind was not totally deceased.
The two entities were locked in a turbulent mental struggle for supremacy of Luthor’s body. When his loss became inevitable, Luthor begged Lana Lang to end him so he wouldn’t have to endure mental subjugation. Although she complied, Brainiac was still able to command Luthor’s body for a time, until rigor mortis set in.
16 His Native American Heritage
This is more interesting than it is weird. According to his backstory as it was redefined by the events of the Infinite Crisis story arc, Luthor’s ancestors were among the very first European settlers to reach the area that would later become Metropolis.
However, Luthor is also directly descended from the tribe of Native Americans who initially inhabited that land and met with the Europeans upon their arrival.
Just from a thematic and literary standpoint, this is a really strange choice. Lex Luthor is one of very few major DC characters to have Native American heritage, but also one of its greatest villains.
15 He Lost A Hand To Kryptonite Radiation
For a while, Luthor wore a piece of Kryptonite that he had fashioned into a ring. This served him on several levels, both practical and symbolically. The ring signified to his enemies and allies alike how truly untouchable he was because, as long as he was wearing it, Superman could not physically get to him.
Unfortunately for Luthor, Kryptonite is highly radioactive. Considering this guy’s expansive scientific knowledge, you’d think he would have anticipated that. Regardless, his ring caused cancer, starting in his hand.
Once diagnosed, Luthor acted quickly to slow the cancer’s spread, amputating the hand.
A nice effort, but it did not work.
14 He Transplanted His Brain Into A Cloned Body
The Kryptonite cancer did not stop with the hand. Before he could do anything about it, the disease spread throughout Luthor’s entire body, threatening to destroy him. So, he did what any rational human would do, or at least what any billionaire super villain would do, and created a healthy clone of himsel.
Once the shiny new body was ready to go, there was only one final step to ensure his survival: a total brain transplant. Just before the cancer reached his brain, he had it removed and placed in a new, genetically identical, cancer-free body.
It’s worth noting that Luthor has claimed he found a cure for cancer (as well as one for AIDS). Unfortunately, being a villain, he never shares this information with anyone.
13 He Had a Son with Superman
Conner Kent spent a fair amount of time fighting under the moniker Superboy, but what a lot of people probably don’t realize about this artificially created humanoid is that his genetic code is equal parts Superman and Lex Luthor.
That’s right: Luthor created Superboy in a lab by combining his own DNA with that of his archenemy.
He thought this would be a good way to battle Superman — by combining his intellect with Superman’s physique — but what he likely didn’t anticipate was the unusual affection he developed for the clone.
Luthor came to see Conner Kent as a sort of son. Even when this clone opposed Luthor, he was unable to fully condemn him.
12 He Sold His Soul To A Demon
Luthor identifies as an atheist for a number of reasons. Possibly chief among them is the fact that he’s devoted his entire adult life to battling an alien. As such, when the ancient, hellish demon Neron offered him power in exchange for his soul, he leapt at the opportunity, not believing in the existence of the human soul. He was wrong.
Just a friendly PSA, here: if a demon asks you to sell your soul, don’t do it. If you think your soul doesn’t exist, the fact that a demon is asking for it should be proof enough.
Luthor not only lost his soul to Neron, but also sold himself into damnation and demonic servitude.
11 He Got Psychic Abilities From Kryptonian Technology
This one gets a little messy, and reminds us of just how off-the-wall DC comics can get. During yet another encounter with Brainiac, Luthor manages to merge his brain with advanced Kryptonian technology salvaged from the brain of a robot clone he made of Lois Lane. Yep, that happened.
He does all this after sharing headspace with Brainiac and literally losing his life as a direct result from that incident.
In this case, however, the alien tech holds, and he temporarily gains some psychic abilities.
Superpowers at last! Unfortunately, since Luthor never wins, his newfound abilities immediately lead to even more problems.
10 He Merged With A Behemoth Monster From The Phantom Zone
During the same escapade that left his beloved Loisbot a wreck and granted Luthor psychic abilities, he also unlocked a portal to the Phantom Zone, the DC universe’s hell dimension.
Unsurprisingly, opening a gate to hell allowed an giant, bloodthirsty, hideous monster to pass into Luthor’s dimension. Unable to face it in a physical standoff, Luthor used his new abilities to lock psyches with the abomination.
The really weird thing is that he manages to empathize with the creature. It turns out this monster just wanted to escape the eternal purgatory of the Phantom Zone. Who wouldn’t?
Anyway, Luthor decides to use his psychic abilities and his bond with the monster to battle Superman yet again and it goes about as well as we’ve all come to expect. In the end, he winds up getting sucked into a Phantom Zone portal.
9 He has no superpowers of his own
The fact that Lex Luthor is just a normal guy isn’t weird in and of itself, but heroes and villains are only ever properly defined in relation to each other.
When you take Superman into consideration, Luthor’s lack of powers is astonishing.
Superman’s abilities seem endless. He has super strength, flight, near-invulnerability, laser eyes, frost breath, x-ray vision, and the list goes on. Luthor has nothing except his intellect (and his wealth).
In many ways, Luthor is a sort of mirror-image of Batman, another DC character who often serves as an antithesis to the Man of Steel. Despite whatever physical shortcomings these characters may have when stacked up against the Son of Krypton, they are each uniquely capable of challenging him.
More than Darkseid, Doomsday, Zod, or Bizzaro, it’s the superpower-less, mortal human who threatens Superman the most.
8 His photographic memory
Even though Lex Luthor doesn’t have any traditional superpowers, he does have one superhuman trait: his eidetic memory.
Lex Luthor prides himself on a photographic ability to recall facts and details. Images are held so vividly in his brain, he can replay scenes from his past on command.
This allows him to memorize complex scientific processes, but also serves him well in combat. Thanks to the way his mind works, he can easily study the fighting styles of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and the rest of his enemies, anticipating their movements in the heat of battle.
Somehow, despite this incredibly rare mental ability, it took Luthor years to realize the connection between Clark Kent and Superman. According to the comics, he wouldn’t allow himself to believe that someone as limitlessly powerful as Superman would ever want to live as a meek, frail human being.
7 His Genius Intellect
Facilitated by his eidetic memory is his genius-level intellect. A master of all forms of science, a brilliant doctor, engineer, military strategist, political leader, and astute businessman, Lex Luthor’s IQ registers so high that he considers himself to have only one intellectual peer.
No, it’s not Batman. Although the World’s Greatest Detective can outwit just about everyone in the DC universe, Luthor must look to other worlds to find his equal: Brainiac.
The character with the word “brain” actually in his name is the only one who can hold a candle to Luthor’s superior mind.
Unfortunately, association with Brainiac comes with some severe drawbacks. The two have, on occasion, come to blows.
6 His War Suit Gives Him Countless Abilities
Although not yet popular in live-action adaptations, Lex Luthor’s iconic war suit is a staple of the character in comics, video games, and animation.
Since he doesn’t have powers of his own, Luthor relies heavily on gadgets, much like other billionaire supers Batman and Iron Man. The suit grants him countless abilities, most commonly flight, super strength, and super durability, but the list goes on.
The suit boasts an impressive arsenal of weaponry, including its Kryptonite-based features. In some continuities, the suit functions as a lie detector, can be used to hypnotize enemies, is capable of telekinesis, can withstand the vacuum of space, can create optical illusions, project impenetrable force fields, and (here’s a fun one) blast people with a powerful beam that traps them in a two-dimensional form. Why not?
5 His Original War Suit Drove Him Insane
Not everything always goes perfectly when dealing with prototypic alien hybrid technology, though, funnily enough. An early draft of his now-iconic Kryptonite-powered war suit had one considerable side effect: insanity.
Oddly, temporary or complete insanity seems to be a recurring repercussion of Luthor’s more outlandish evil plots. This is especially strange once you take into account the fact that Luthor is already mentally unstable to begin with. He is, after all, an evil genius bent on the destruction of Earth’s greatest hero. You just don’t do that if all your marbles are in tact.
In this case, the design flaw worked to Luthor’s benefit.
He had a stooge wear it to fight Superman, and since the suit drove the pilot insane, he was unable to testify, and Superman couldn’t link any of the evidence to Lex.
4 He’s got Mad Martial Arts Skills
Luthor’s hardest-learned lesson is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” To put it simply, he spends far too much time trying to give himself superpowers. The fact is, though, he’s a master of hand-to-hand combat.
Sure, it won’t get you very far against superman, but he has achieved what very few other villains have: he has bested Batman in a fight. Both Batman and Nightwing, in fact.
Naturally, being evil, Luthor cheated just a little bit in each case. Nightwing was chemically incapacitated, and Luthor was still wearing parts of his armor when he fought Batman, but who can blame him?
When you spend most of your adult life trying and failing to defeat Superman, you have to take whatever victories you can get.
3 Amazons trained him to fight
Not everyone was so impressed with Lex Luthor’s martial prowess, however. While Batman received his training from an immortal ninja assassin (Ra’s al Ghul), Luthor sought out the knowledge of another skilled band of fighters: the Amazons.
That’s right, Wonder Woman’s sisters-in-arms helped train her greatest ally’s greatest enemy.
Even though they taught him, it should be noted they didn’t like him one bit. He was, true to form, a brash, arrogant, disrespectful student. What’s worse, the Amazons deemed his form sloppy and scrappy. He did not abide by any kind of code of conduct while in combat.
Basically, he fought dirty, and only used what they taught him to fight dirtier. This is in direct opposition to the code of honor all Amazons live by.
2 He Used Metagene Treatment To Gain Superpowers
Having learned that lesson, Luthor turned his attention away from drug treatments and focused instead on genetic modifications. He developed something called the “Everyman” project, which sought to enhance normal, non-gifted humans with abilities isolated from the metagenes of superheroes.
Initially, his own biological makeup was incompatible with the scientific process, but eventually he was able to develop a metagene treatment that worked. Having done this, he enjoyed a short period of time as a superpowered individual, capable of many of the same abilities Superman possesses.
Alas, good things never last, and after yet another battle with members of the Justice League, his powers were rendered inert. Back to the Kryptonite war suit.
1 His 1980 Redesign
A redheaded, morally questionable, billionaire businessman who gets elected president, Remind you of anyone?
In the 1986 limited series The Man of Steel, artist John Byrne redesigned several characters, including Lex Luthor. To bring his vision of a corrupt business magnate to life, Byrne drew a composite character of two famous businessmen.
The idea behind this version was, apparently, to deepen the development of Luthor as an anti-Superman. If Superman embodies all of America’s best traits, then Luthor had to embody its worst.
This reimagining of Superman’s archnemesis became so popular, it held for decades to come. The Lex Luthor currently tormenting the Justice League is modeled on the same character design.
Are you aware of any additional, truly bizarre physical or mental traits possessed by Lex Luthor? Let us know in the comments section!