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5 Reasons Jon Cryer Is TV’s Best Lex Luthor (& 4 Why It’s Michael Rosenbaum)

When we think of Lex Luthor in TV Shows, Jon Cryer from Supergirl and Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville come to mind. But which TV Luthor was better? Let’s find out.

Jon Cryer: He Is Of The Perfect Age

Source: The CW

Most stories that feature Lex Luthor in the comic books show him as a brilliant middle aged man. By the time Luthor takes the scene, he has already been through a lot, and only some of it, if the story deems it necessary, is shown. Luthor is calm, composed, and calculating in his ways. Just like Jon Cryer’s Luthor is in the comic books. We know just enough about his past to profile him as a villain but not enough to write a book on him. That’s just the right amount of intel we are supposed to have on Luthor.

Michael Rosenbaum: A Morally Ambiguous Character

Source: The CW

Michael Rosenbaum’s Luthor was shown to have a tough childhood. A father who could never trust him and Luthor always looking for ways to win his approval certainly did a number on him. Over the course of the series. Rosenbaum’s Luthor did some questionable acts that may or may not have been right. But fans agree that from his point of view, the things he did actually made sense. For the first time, DC gave us a show where the villain was gray with an extremely ambiguous moral compass. Rosenbaum’s Luthor portrayal was lightyears ahead of its time.

Jon Cryer: Master Of Manipulation

Source: The CW

Even in the movies, Luthor is shown to be an expert in pulling the strings from behind the curtains. He manipulates people into doing the things he himself wouldn’t dare dirtying his hands for. The comic books show him as so shrewd and manipulative he can even pit one superhero against another and steer himself clear of all blame. Jon Cryer’s Luthor has been very successful at showing us that puppet-master aspect of Luthor. His manipulation schemes have almost always been successful in the course of the Arrowverse.

Michael Rosenbaum: Broke The Mold After Gene Hackman’s Luthor

Luthor – Hackman & Rosenbaum

For years, fans thought that Gene Hackman’s portrayal of Lex Luthor in the 1978 Superman movie was definitive. No one could ever top it. DC did manage to top Hackman’s role but only in the DC Animated Universe. Hackman’s Luthor remained the gold standard of DC super-villainy for more than two decades. And them cam Smallville. An obscure actor was given the role of playing a younger version of the most iconic Superman villain ever. Did he do a good job? No!! He did an INCREDIBLE job!!!

Jon Cryer: More Of A Team Player

Source: The CW

Luthor, be default, believes superheroes are a curse. he does not believe in vigilante justice because in his own twisted ways, he thinks that no one is above the law (except himself maybe?). But he is not below working with his dreaded masked enemies to get the job done or even save the day at times. In the Crisis On Infinite Earths event, Luthor joined forces with the superheroes much to Supergirl’s protests. he rewrote reality and made himself a Paragon and then helped the heroes restore the cosmos.

Michael Rosenbaum: His Ever-Changing Relationship With Superman

Michael Rosenbaum As Luthor

Michael Rosenbaum had a tough road ahead. His version of Luthor would start out as allies with Clark Kent. His relationship with Superman was a total topsy-turvy town. It had numerous ups and downs. The Superman-Luthor dynamics in the comic book movies and shows have been pretty one-dimensional. Michael Rosenbaum showed that there were many other sides to that relationship the shows and movies before Smallville hadn’t explored. The way Rosenbaum’s Luthor’s relationship with superman kept changing and matured in the show, no other DC production except maybe Superman: The Animated Series has managed to do.

Jon Cryer: His Evil Schemes Come Straight From The Comic Books

Source: The CW

Most of the evil plans hatched by Jon Cryer‘s Luthor are comic book accurate. Take for instance the fact that he got cancer from kryptonite radiation because he injected himself with it as a deterrent against Superman. The comic books have a similar story where Luthor got cancer because he always wore a Kryptonite ring. Jon Cryer’s Luthor is more comic book accurate than you think.

Michael Rosenbaum: A More Relatable Luthor

More Relatable As A Villain

Michael Rosenbaum was a part of the show till its very end. He appeared in seven seasons of the show and even in the last season’s finale episode as Lex Luthor. Throughout his ten year journey in Smallville, he showed us how he went from a rich and arrogant brat to a truly smug and cunning businessman. Michael Rosenbaum’s Luthor had an incredible opportunity to grow throughout the show and that is why people love him because it is easier to relate to him. We managed to see Luthor before he became the infamous criminal mastermind.

Jon Cryer: Less Braggadocio, More Work

Source: The CW

Supergirl‘s script is sometimes tacky and campy but it did a good job with Luthor. Jon Cryer’s Luthor is written into the story to be more grounded and realistic. he had ample reasons to play the character as a cocky tycoon. but instead, Cryer’s Luthor was simpler. He was so sure of his own abilities that he never once exhumed an aura of over-confidence in the show. In fact, he never needed to. He was more into proving his worth via his actions.

Written by Bibhu Prasad Panda

Bibhu Prasad Panda is a Senior Content Writer at FandomWire. He has always been fascinated with the world of word balloons and text boxes since he was 5. From aspiring to be an engineer to becoming a market research specialist, life's been quite a journey for him. Bibhu now follows his passion as an entertainment journalist/blogger. He's also an Omen main in Valorant. SCATTER!!!!