The Magnificent History of Lex Luthor’s Terrible Hair

Lex

I can’t take luscious, goldilocked Lex Luthor seriously. I’m sorry. I genuinely tried (for a solid ten seconds, I really did), but it’s just not happening. Presumably you know what I’m referring to if you’ve glanced at the image above. Just in case, here you go: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. One of them shows Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in an extremely pre-bald state.

He’s got the wavy, sun-dried locks of a California beach bruh. The set jaw and puckered-in cheekbones of Zoolander doing Blue Steel. The blue polka dot style that, yeah, kinda makes sense for an eccentric billionaire prodigy. But can you imagine that hair when he’s angry? Like, pounding on a desk or pointing a finger in an anti-Superman frenzy? Do you think the individual locks might bounce a little?

Astoundingly, Batman News called this a year ago.

A source tells Batman News that Eisenberg has “a lot of hair”. It’s not Eisenberg’s typical curly look – it’s a bit longer, kind of loose and wavy, and it’s dirty blonde. Eisenberg’s Luthor has spastic mannerisms, like a 20-something guy that pounds energy drinks all day. I’m told that the scenes shot take place towards the beginning of the movie… so maybe there’s still a chance that Lex Luthor could show up bald by the end?

Chances seem pretty high.

Batman v Superman’s Luthor may have doofus hair, but at least he’s among friends- most non-bald Luthors end up looking at least mildly ridiculous. So let’s journey through the years of haired Luthors, both in print and onscreen.

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DC Comics

Action Comics #23

Luthor’s debut was a hirsute one. In April 1940, he appeared for the first time in Action Comics #23, sporting kind of a Friar Tuck ‘do (the robe certainly isn’t helping). The comic itself is pretty straightforward- Luthor tries to take over the world, kidnaps Lois Lane, yadda yadda yadda, ends up crashing his dirigible.

Here’s where Luthor’s hair history takes an unexpected turn. Original Superman artist Joe Shuster couldn’t handle the mass amounts of work coming in and farmed some of it out to ghost artists. One such artist, Leo Nowak, suffered a history-making brain fart and accidentally drew Luthor as bald in Superman’s newspaper comic strip. Not long after, Nowak was assigned to Superman #10 and replicated the same goof. And Luthor’s been a baldie ever since.

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DC Comics

Adventure Comics #271

Twenty years later, Superman co-creator Jerry Seigel finally got around to explaining the baldness. Back when Superman was a mere Superboy, he met Lex Luthor and the two made an instant connection. At least, until a fire broke out in Luthor’s lab. Superboy rushes over and blows out the fire, but in the process wrecks all of Luthor’s research (an antidote to Kryptonite, no less) and causes a chemical reaction that burns away Luthor’s full mane. Luthor’s sense of decency vanishes as quickly as his haircut.

DC Comics

The Man of Steel

Not the Zack Snyder movie (note the all-important “the”) The Man of Steel is a 1986 comic miniseries that rebooted Superman with a more stripped down origin (the whole “Infinite Earths” thing proved too tangled for casual readers). Its take on Lex is the guy we know today- not a mad scientist like Luthors past, but a power-hungry businessman. And with a more realistic origin comes a more realistic ‘do- bare on top, yet bushy around the ears. One of the least ridiculous Luthor haircuts, I’d say, but it still makes the guy look pretty miserable.

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DC Comics

Lex Luthor II

A few years after his The Man of Steel rejiggering, Luthor was diagnosed with terminal cancer- the result of years surrounding himself with Superman-proof Kryptonite (which, it turns out, is a nasty carcinogen). To stave off death, Luthor has his brain removed and a new, healthy clone body grown around it. Reborn, Luthor passes himself off as his illegitimate son Lex Luthor II, with a Superman physique, shoulder-length locks and bushy beard (and an Australian accent, just for kicks). As amazing as that sounds (and looks), it didn’t last long. Shoddy cloning procedures cause Luthor II to degenerate into his old, bald (also paralyzed eventually) self.

Warner Bros.

Superman: The Movie

Luthor is bald, but Gene Hackman wouldn’t be. The actor staunchly refused to shave off his hair after being cast in Superman: The Movie. Here’s the workaround Richard Donner came up with: Luthor would don a variety of “wigs” throughout the film (in reality, just Hackman’s hair, teased into varying degreees of ridiculousness), and reveal his “baldness” at the very end, when Superman finally carts him off to jail. Which was really Hackman, yanking a wig off a skullcap that was, in turn, covering his real hair. Hackman was just as adamant about keeping his mustache, too, but luckily (or unluckily, maybe) Donner was able to sway him.

Superboy

The live-action Superboy series made a few… questionable interpretations with its young Lex Luthor. At least in its first season. Played by Scott James Wells, Luthor wasn’t so much a mad scientist or an evil genius but more your run-of-the-mill college aged frat douche (lots of pastel-colored sweaters). To be honest, his hair wasn’t that noteworthy. More blonde than red and with a hint of ponytail in the back, but pretty much the standard for any jerk in an ’80s college setting.

Luthor losing his hair, though? Couldn’t be more noteworthy. In its first season finale, Superboy reset towards more comic-accurate stuff- starting with an adaptation of Luthor’s chemical fire bald-ening from Adventure Comics #271. In the clip above, Luthor realizes the full weight of his tragic loss. It’s really rad, man.

Warner Bros.

Superman Returns

There’s actually a precedent for Eisenberg’s wavy, goldenrod BvS curls, and it comes in 2006’s Superman Returns. About halfway through the movie, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey, this time) plans an elaborate kryptonite heist from the Metropolis Museum of Natural History. To avoid detection while scouting the place, he dons a very similar shaggy surfer wig. Also a southern accent, for exactly one line of dialogue when talking to a museum employee.

I’m honestly not sure why any of that was necessary, but hey, Luthor’s the criminal mastermind here, not me. Even though his master plan was just to cut the museum’s power, smash the glass display case and walk out with the Kryptonite.

Have any strong opinions on Eisenberg’s (or any other) Luthor hairdo?