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Jon Cryer Joins Supergirl as Lex Luthor and We Have Some Concerns

Can the Two and a Half Men star pull off Superman's greatest foe?

jon cryer

One of DC’s most famous foes, Lex Luthor, is making his small screen debut in the Arrowverse on Supergirl next year. He will be played by Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), who played Lex’s nephew Lenny Luthor in the critically reviled 1987 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (Supergirl loves a good stunt casting).

Supergirl executive producers Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller said in a statement, “We are enormous fans of Jon Cryer, and he was instantly our dream actor to play the iconic role of Lex Luthor. Jon is a super-talent, and the fact that he played Lenny Luthor in Superman IV brings an added layer of legacy to his casting. We’re beyond thrilled to welcome Jon to the Supergirl family.”

As much as I like Jon Cryer, I am dubious about his casting as Lex Luthor. The actor’s onscreen persona leads me to believe that he will be another in the current trend of nebbishy, nerdy Lex Luthor portrayals. The trend started with Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Luthor in the DCEU as a criminally insane nerd whose lust for power is belied by his skittish, nervous mannerisms. But this (like nearly everything else about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) rubs me the wrong way.

Call me old school, but I prefer a smooth-talking, self-possessed Luthor in the vein of Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal in Smallville. In addition to being a genius, Lex Luthor’s greatest power is his ability to manipulate the people around him to do his bidding. Luthor’s lethal charisma is his chief weapon, which allows him to hide in plain sight as a billionaire businessman of Metropolis.

Luthor’s scheming can easily tip into comedy, as in Gene Hackman’s smarmy “Lex as used car salesman” portrayal in the Richard Donner films. And the less said about Kevin Spacey’s turn in Superman Returns, the better. Bu the common denominator in these performances is the confidence. Lex Luthor works as a villain because he genuinely believes he can outwit Superman and the forces of good. I picture Lex Luthor as someone who is more Dick Cheney than Mark Zuckerberg.

Lex has come up several times in the series, mostly in relation to his sister, Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath). Throughout Supergirl, Lena has been working hard to escape her brother’s evil legacy and transform LuthorCorp into noble (and legal) company. Lena has already had several run-ins with her anti-alien mother Lillian (Brenda Strong), and both women play their respective Luthors with an air of icy patrician reserve. It will be interesting to see how Cryer’s performance fits in with their tone.

Granted, we’ll have to wait until 2019 to see how Cryer plays the role. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he’s simply not how I picture the character of Lex Luthor. What do you think of Cryer’s casting? Do you prefer a confident, manipulative Luthor or a twitchy, nerd-rage Luthor?

(via Collider, image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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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.