Warning! Major spoilers ahead for Superman & Lois.
Superman & Lois introduced yet another version of Lex Luthor to the Arrowverse. What sets him apart from Jon Cryer’s iteration of the character from Supergirl is that he’s actually from another world. In the pilot episode of the latest Arrowverse series, Wolé Parks’ Lex moves in the shadows, covered from head-to-toe in a dark, bulky suit that hides his face from view. While Lex has always wanted to destroy the Man of Steel, there is already evidence to suggest it will be for an entirely new reason that is unique to Superman & Lois.
Prior to his debut in Superman & Lois, Parks’ character was dubbed “the Stranger,” implying that his true identity would remain concealed until fans learned more about him on the show. Fans had already speculated that the Stranger was none other than a different version of Lex Luthor himself. The only question that remained was how the series would pull off introducing another Lex when one already existed in the Arrowverse. However, the shared universe is not averse to doppelgangers or variations of the same character being played by different people. Look no further than Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman, Tom Welling’s Clark Kent, and Brandon Routh’s Man of Steel, all of whom appeared in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover.
Throughout the series premiere of Superman & Lois, Superman is called by General Sam Lane, Lois Lane’s father and an ally to Clark, to stop various nuclear reactors from exploding. In the episode’s final act, Superman confronts the man who is responsible for sabotaging the nuclear plants. As this mystery man explains, he has simply been testing the Man of Steel’s strength, mocking him for not being as fast as previously believed. He and Superman engage in a battle that concludes with the villain stabbing the superhero with a shard of Kryptonite, sending him plummeting back down to Earth.
During his fight with Superman, Lex reveals that he’s the last survivor of his world, which was completely destroyed. Not only does this backstory align with Superman’s own origins as the last son of Krypton, which was obliterated shortly after his parents sent him to Earth in a space shuttle, but it also gives Lex a starkly different arc than that of his Earth-Prime counterpart. When he heads back to his ship, he’s addressed by an A.I. as “Captain Luthor,” which suggests that Lex was somehow a pilot of some sort on his planet or he was forced to become one to survive space long enough to arrive on Earth-Prime.
What’s more, Lex confirms that he and Superman “have history” where he comes from and one can assume that the pair have as much of an antagonist relationship as they do in every adaptation of Superman’s story — be it in movies, live-action TV, DC comics, or animated series. It’s unclear how long ago Lex’s earth was destroyed, but his vendetta against the Man of Steel seems more personal than usual this time around. The way Lex speaks to Clark can be considered accusatory, as though he blames the superhero personally for the destruction of his world. It’s possible he’s even testing Superman’s strength and power to figure out if he’s even capable of wiping out an entire earth to begin with.
The collapse of the multiverse during the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover may be the key to understanding why Lex is after Superman. While Superman & Lois will surely reveal more of the details regarding the circumstances of his arrival on Earth-Prime, it’s possible that Lex believes the Man of Steel is behind the chaos that ended all life on his planet. On one hand, this could tie into “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and its aftermath. While Superman wasn’t directly responsible for the destruction of the multiverse — that was orchestrated by the Anti-Monitor, an all-powerful being who wanted to eradicate the universe and its plethora of worlds to create an antimatter version of it — he did have a hand in creating an entirely new multiverse with only a limited amount of earths.
Superman and Supergirl’s Earth-38 was permanently lost, as was Black Lightning’s earth, both of which merged with The Flash, Batwoman, and Green Arrow’s world to become Earth-Prime. While other earths still existed, like the rebooted version of Earth-2 in Stargirl, hundreds of worlds were lost forever. One can assume Captain Luthor’s earth was also sacrificed in the fallout. It’s unclear yet how he managed to escape, but it’s possible that he discovered what happened with “Crisis” and even learned of Superman’s involvement, thus bringing him to the conclusion that Superman helped destroy his earth and had to pay for his crimes.
Lex confirms that his world had a Superman, one who presumably died when the planet was destroyed. Conversely, this superhero may have been behind the eradication of Lex’s earth, which would explain why the antagonist is so angry at Superman. Perhaps his world’s version of the Man of Steel wasn’t such a great guy and wanted to purposely doom the world. After all, it’s something he could definitely get away with doing considering the formidable strength of his powers. That said, this scenario is unlikely since there has been no evidence that any of the multiverse’s Supermen are bad guys.
If this iteration of Lex can build himself a ship and navigate space to some extent, then it makes sense that he somehow discovered the damage caused to the multiverse from “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” At the very least, he must have learned about it when he got to Earth-Prime. Whatever the case may be, Lex would naturally blame Superman for everything that happened on his planet. It’s what he usually does — everything is somehow Superman’s fault and Superman & Lois is setting it up to align with Lex’s perspective once more. With his world gone, Lex has to start from scratch. He probably doesn’t have a home besides his ship, no money, no power. Lex likely hates that he’s been put in this position at all and his anger is now focused on taking out Superman. Ultimately, Lex’s endeavor would be an excuse for him to find and kill his nemesis, as well as a way for the show to continue dealing with the consequences of what happened during and after the multiverse collapse and restoration.