Lex Luthor

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by safarial, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer I am the modman, goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    ^See, now I'm picturing you as a grim avenger of the night on a lonely, two-fisted crusade....
     
  2. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's a great argument... against an argument nobody else has been making.

    Not one person in this thread has said "Evil is respectable." Not ONE.

    Let me be clear... I do believe in a universal "absolute morality." I believe that there is, literally, such a thing as "good" and "evil" and the two are not simply determined by our own personal perspective. This is the case regardless of whether or not you, personally, believe that this in some fashion derives from a "God" or is just some vague, nebulous "universal truth."

    On the other hand, I don't believe that there is any sentient creature (I'm stretching beyond "just us humans" to be more universal!) which is "absolutely good" or "absolutely evil." We're all somewhere in that vast grey area in-between. Every choice we make causes us to move a bit further towards one extreme or the other, but it's not possible for us "mere mortals" to ever even begin to approach the extremes. We just don't live long enough! (This could lead us into theological territory... the whole thing about "eternal life" versus "eternal damnation"... but I'd like to side-step that issue for the moment... fair 'nuff?)

    I don't believe that "morality is relative." Right is right and wrong is wrong, regardless of whether you, I, or anyone else happens to think so.

    HOWEVER... it's also true, undeniably, that very few people throughout human history have become "villains" because they enjoyed the idea of being the bad guy. As mentioned before, Hitler (the most commonly referenced "bad guy" in recent memory, though by no means the worst person ever, much less particular worse than many people who are alive and well even today!) certainly thought of himself as the "hero of the story" when he looked at what he was doing.

    (And, since "history is written by the victors," it's an interesting mental exercise to imagine how history would record the guy had he WON, isn't it? I'm sure that the "excesses" of the Third Reich" would be painted over in history (much like similar events in our own history have been treated!))

    Every "bad guy" in the real world you can think of was, in his own mind, doing something "good." Sometimes they were deeply disturbed, sometimes they were megalomaniacs, but they all managed to justify their actions. And they all resented the idea that we "plebians" weren't capable of seeing their "higher calling."

    That's why I brought up Lector. And that's why the brain-cooking bit in "Hannibal" was so disturbing... not due to the violence of it, but to the fact that the audience had been manipulated by the filmmaker into secretly AGREEING with it... and thus the audience was horrified, not by HIM, but by THEMSELVES. It's a masterful piece of film making for that reason, if for no other.

    Luthor isn't quite so over-the-top. He's all about power... but he's not outright malevolent. He simply thinks that it's his rightful place to run things, and that it's RIGHT and JUST for him to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure that he (being so much more qualified for the job than anyone else) stays in that position.

    As I've said several times now, Luthor (at his most interesting) sees himself as the "hero" and Superman as the "potentially most threatening force on the planet."

    Now, imagine that there was a REAL "Superman" on Earth. Someone who has no clear agenda other than to play hero (which may well seem like P.R. intended to curry public favor), but who has the ability to literally do anything he, or she, wanted to do.

    I'm not saying this is some guy named "Clark" or "Kal-El" or whatever. I'm saying you don't KNOW who this guy is. I'm asking how YOU, PERSONALLY, would respond if something like this happened in real life.

    I don't know about you, but I'd want to have a "check and balance" system in place against him.

    (In the comics, Superman recognizes the need for this as well, which is why he's given the "last piece" of Kryptonite to Bruce Wayne as a last resort in case he ever goes rogue.)
     
  3. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Is Galactus beyond good and evil, or is he the cunt that eats populated planets?

    Now, because of you... My mind has created this casual association that Bernie Mac eats planets too.

    Napoleon Bonepart, and even Julius Caesar. They should both be thought of as extrhistorical Hitlers. Invading, butchering, pillaging. Not so is it?
     
  4. Galactus

    Galactus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is part of the post I was referring to recently, but there have been similar ones in the past that I have read about Luthor and other villians. There is always this theme of "good" characters are boring and the "anti-hero"/bad guy is so much more interesting. It is those comments that bother me the most.

    As for as if Superman really existed, how would real people react. Several people have explored this with Superman clones Icon and Hyperion, for example. I think most people would act like you or worse, whether he was an alien or not. Since there is no universal definition of good and evil on Earth, I am sure a lot of his actions would upset people. I a few criminals would sue him, I am sure some would win.

    Me personally, I would not view him any different than they real life larger than life people we have out there. Until he did something I would take him for his actions. That to me is the most interesting thing, what makes someone like Superman and Batman defend a world that does not even want their help. That was one of the things I like about the old Spiderman, his life totally sucked, but he would still pull himself up and put that mask on and take care of business.
     
  5. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And we should care what they think...why, exactly?

    Just because somebody *thinks* they're doing good, doesn't mean they actually are.

    I don't share that opinion.
     
  6. MeanJoePhaser

    MeanJoePhaser Admiral

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    Caeser and Napoleon had the warrior auora to them. Hitler, while a veteran, was corporal. He was not a great strategist, militarily speaking.

    Plus there's the whole racist, genocide thing.

    Though, Napolean is considered the first anti-christ in some lunatic circles, isn't he?

    I always thought Lex Luthor was lame until SUPERMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES. But then my impressions were based on Superfriends and the Superman movies.
     
  7. shivkala

    shivkala Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    All this talk about Byrne creating the Post-Crisis Luthor had me thinking, didn't Marv Wolfman contribute? I thought the "Luthor as businessman" idea was his.

    The think I liked about this Lex, at least before he turned back into the on-the-run-from-the-law-mad-scientist version we have now, is that there was never a limit to what Luthor could do. Before Batman got the reputation as the, "if he has enough planning, he could beat anyone" character, Luthor had that (based on Action Comics #700 where we see how he rigged Metropolis with tons of fail-safes to protect it).

    Luthor's ambitions found a way for him to become the most powerful man in Metropolis, cheat death, create his own Superman (though none of those attempts worked as he foresaw), take control of powerful alien future-tech, and become the President of the United States (as a third party candidate!). All the while avoiding lengthy prison stays and being seen by the American public as a role model. Through planning, determination, cunning, and a vast array of resources, he went from a poor kid to the richest man in the world.

    While he's doing this, he also gains creedence in the villain world, with possibly only the Joker willing to stand up to him. From being on Neroon's council during Underworld Unleashed to running the Injustice League twice (which, in my opinion, only failed because of outside intereference--Darkseid first and later Maggedon), the DCU villains may not like him, but they have learned to respect him.

    Hell, he even negotiated with Darkseid and stood up to him. He might fight the Man of Steel, but Luthor is the man with balls of steel.
     
  8. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Neroon the moderator? ;)

    I loved it at the end of underworld unleashed when someone said to Luthor "Cool, you got your health back. Great. Why didn't you ask for super powers too?"
     
  9. shivkala

    shivkala Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    D'oh! Though in my defense some might say that Neroon and Neron are 6 and one half-dozen the other! :p

    Lex Luthor getting super-powers would go against everything the character stands for. Even more than his "battle suit."
     
  10. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I don't like it either. Relying on personal power rather than another master plan some 5 seconds from fruition to reverse everyones fortunes? Seems like cheating.

    Where's the tech from?
     
  11. blaXXer

    blaXXer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Ah, a fellow Empirist. Come now, let us go forth and bring piece to our new Empire...
     
  12. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Piece? I thought guns would be kind of low-tech for Star Wars? ;)
     
  13. YLu

    YLu Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I wasn't able to find it with a Google search, but I've seen Byrne himself mention it on his message board. A poster was praising a then-recent Lex Luthor story (by someone other than Byrne; Loebs, maybe?), saying that it really made you understand why a person who's led his life would end up the way he is. Byrne's responded with something along the lines of, "Sigh. I specifically revamped Luthor to be bad to the bone, someone no one would ever think that way about. I didn't want anyone to be able to make excuses for him." Yes, he used the phrase "bad to the bone"; that part I'm sure is a direct quote.

    Interestingly enough, one of the sites the failed Google search turned up was a Trekbbs post. So what about it, Joe Zhang? Do you happen to be able to provide a source?

    I really don't think those are the only two options, as if any character who doesn't see himself as in the right can only be written as a hoary cliche devoid of originality.
     
  14. Sephiroth

    Sephiroth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    pretty much my thoughts have been expressed here

    Movie Luthor=fail
    Smallville Luthor= fail
    corporate/President luthor- pretty decent supes match
     
  15. Rowan Sjet

    Rowan Sjet Commodore Commodore

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    ^ I don't recall anyone here saying "Smallville Luthor = Fail" though he did have his moments (Fake!baby, urgh!).
     
  16. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer I am the modman, goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    That's what I've heard, but it was Byrne who provided the introduction, and some of the better self-contained stories that established him, IMO. Wolfman focused in AoS on showing Luthor as a manipulative schemer who had a finger in everyone's lives, but Byrne made him a chilling bastard.

    I'd stopped reading the Superman titles not too long before that business began, but I always felt that angle was very weak. IRL, the slightest whiff of petty scandal can ruin presidential aspirations. While Luthor had avoided the law via alibis and technicalities, by that point he was steeped in scandal and controversy. Heck, even the backstory of having six or seven ex-wives would be enough to keep him out of the race.

    Also very weak. At that point, Luthor still had his vaneer of respectability--he shouldn't have been seen openly throwing in with psychopaths like the Joker. This version of Luthor should have sent a minion to deal with established criminals at best.

    I'll never join you...!

    (Wait, I just went from uber-badass to whiny. Maybe I should try a different approach....)

    It's not fair! I HATE YOU!!! [Throws laptop at wall.]

    (Nope...that was just lame....)

    Maybe that's not the kind of "piece" we're looking for.... :devil:
     
  17. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Megatron.

    If he had a mustache, he'd twirl it. :p
     
  18. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Boss Hogg.

    On a telethon in the 80s he arrived with a beard. And said he wouldn't shave it off and act like Boss Hogg for the camera until the pledge donations cracked 2 million dollars. :)
     
  19. Galactus

    Galactus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In 52 didn't Luthor give himself Superman's powers and was defeated by Steel. Seems like he has nothing but envy to me.
     
  20. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which is entirely true... but what does that have to do with the point you're responding to?

    Why is it that so many people find it easy to just decide someone else is "evil" and leave it at that, when talking about REALITY? The reason is obvious... it's EASIER. We see this all the time... but it's intellectually dishonest, at best, and utterly destructive at worst.

    Keeping to the oh-so-well-known "Hitler" thing... in his particular case, he saw "demonizing the 'other'" as one of the multiple, and really very effective, tools he used to climb to higher and higher levels of power.

    See, if you can paint somebody, or some GROUP of people, as unredeemably "evil," and if you then claim that those people, by virtue of being "evil" don't need to be understood, only defeated or destroyed... you've basically just made it OK to do ANYTHING YOU WANT to that person or group.

    On the other hand, if you look at what the "other" person or group is thinking, you don't have to AGREE with them, but you'll recognize soon enough what it is that they're thinking. And that means that you have another option besides simply DESTROYING them, doesn't it?

    If "Luthor is evil," in that overly simplified cartoon-villain way, then it's justifiable for Superman (or whoever else) to just kill him and be done with it.

    Another great example of this is found in the Nolan Batman films. Ra'as Al Ghul thinks he's "saving the world," after all. And as strange as it may seem, even the Joker (in the most recent film) had a sense of his own "personal morality," twisted as it may have been.

    1-dimensional "baddie" characters are BORING, and they don't challenge the GOOD GUYS in any way.

    Having a "bad guy" who thinks he's a "good guy" and who thinks that the "good guy" is actually the "bad guy"... that makes for far more interesting storytelling than having Snidely Whiplash tying Grace Goodheart to the train tracks yet again... doesn't it?