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Donald Trump’s Foiled Superman Stunt Is Peak Lex Luthor Behavior

Trump pitched a Superman-themed exit from Walter Reed hospital.

donald trump

When Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center Monday night, he pumped his fist in the air a few times before getting on board Marine One to return to the White House. But apparently Trump had planned for a bigger, more theatrical departure from the hospital. According to a report in the New York Times, Trump wanted to do a Clark Kent to Superman reveal:

“In several phone calls last weekend from the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Mr. Trump shared an idea he was considering: When he left the hospital, he wanted to appear frail at first when people saw him, according to people with knowledge of the conversations. But underneath his button-down dress shirt, he would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal as a symbol of strength when he ripped open the top layer. He ultimately did not go ahead with the stunt.”

News of the stunt spread quickly, and “Willy Wonka” started trending on Twitter, as folks immediately drew comparisons to Wonka’s introduction in the film:

But of course, this is classic Trump: a reality star’s impression of what would make headlines and rile up his base. It’s a stunt that would be more at home on WWE or a reality series. Frankly, it’s a surprise Trump didn’t leave Walter Reed dressed as a giant syringe while singing “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

But Trump’s Superman stunt is hardly the stuff of heroes. It’s a crass manipulation that ignores the brutal reality of the pandemic. In short, it’s a classic Lex Luthor move.

After all, Trump and Luthor bear striking similarities. Both are power-hungry CEOs with designs on world domination. Both have a stranglehold on the media and their public perception. Both stoke anti-alien fear and discrimination. And both are bald, although Lex is at least confident enough to rock a clean pate. Luthor was even elected president three times over the course of the character’s history.

lex luthor president

The Trump-as-Luthor comparison is hardly new, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of it after his latest almost stunt. Trump’s desire to reveal a Superman shirt speaks to the deep seated insecurity that makes Luthor hate Superman. It’s a desperation for the power and adoration that Superman inspires. It’s a demand to be treated like a god.

Many took to social media to roast Trump for his stunt:

The only person who thought this was a good idea? Former Superman and Trump supporter Dean Cain:

(via New York Times, featured image: DC Comics/screenshot)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.