‘Superman & Lois’ Premiere: Who Is That Mysterious Villain?

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Spoilers for the Superman & Lois series premiere past this point.

There are few constants in superhero lore, and one of them is thus: if you have a Superman, you have got to have a Luthor, as well. And in a surprising, last minute twist, the series premiere of The CW’s Superman & Lois introduced someone named Captain Luthor — though it’s definitely not the Lex Luthor fans of fellow Arrow-verse series Supergirl have come to know and hate, thanks to Jon Cryer’s iconic performance. So what’s going on here? Who is this mystery Luthor, and where does he come from?

“When Greg [Berlanti] and I first started talking about this, we wanted an iconic villain for Superman, we wanted an iconic role,” EP Todd Helbing said about the twist at a recent press day held by the Television Critics Association, attended by Decider. “It was our opportunity, coming out of Crisis [on Infinite Earths] to tell a new story and bring the audiences this new journey with somebody that they feel like they’ve known.”

In case you missed the premiere, while the bulk of the runtime is spent on Superman/Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin) grappling with the death of his mother, and deciding to move back home to Smallville with his wife Lois Lane (Bitsie Tulloch) and two teen boys, at the same time someone is messing with nuclear power facilities. They’re leaving small cracks on the reactors, and clues calling out “Kal-El” written in Kryptonian. That someone — initially called The Stranger — is extremely powerful, in a suit, battles Superman and pretty much beats him. It’s only at the end of the episode that the man returns to some sort of facility, or ship, takes off his helmet, and gets called “Captain Luthor” by his computer.

The man inside that suit (and more on that in a second)? Wolé Parks. Though you only get to see the back of his head in the premiere, Parks will be a major part of the series going forward. And yes, you’ll get to see his whole face. When he does manage to turn around unmasked, CW fans might recognize Parks as Cade from The Vampire Diaries, or Micah Richards from All American.

However, he’s not actually the man in the suit, as Parks explained.

“So spoiler alert, I am not in the suit,” Parks said. “I have a stunt double, Warren Scherer… He’s amazing, but he’s also like 6’8”. So we did attempt to put me in the suit at one time. It didn’t go well.”

So that settles who is physically in this suit — but who is this Luthor? Helbing was relatively quiet on that front, though emphasized they wanted something different than Cryer to match the more grounded, family nature of Superman & Lois. “We wanted to tell a new story,” Helbing said. “There’s a lot of twists and turns and secrets are revealed, and mysteries unfold in the way that this version is going to feel fresh and new and completely different than anything we’ve seen before.”

Given Lex Luthor and his various versions have been around for over 80 years, that’s a tall order, though Parks agreed with the assessment, adding that, “the difference between this one and the other ones is his backstory.”

Laying his geek card on the table, Parks added that he’s watched Justice League, read “comics back in the day,” but for him this take on Luthor, “we’ve never covered this kind of stuff on TV before.”

“Every bad guy is the hero of his own story,” Parks continued. “This guy has legitimate reasons, and I think people will hopefully empathize with why he’s doing what he’s doing.”

Naturally, for long time fans of the Arrow-verse shows, the mention of Crisis on Infinite Earths will pique a lot of interest in this new mystery. In the epic crossover, the multiverse died, and was reborn; mostly on one Earth, though a few others remained depending on what network their DC Comics based show was broadcasting on. However, this Luthor’s statements that Kal-El let his world die definitely seems to points to something that happened during Crisis, and possibly explains why this Luthor looks nothing like Cryer.

It’s a mystery, and a big one. And in this case, at least, it looks like it might be a job for Lois Lane.

Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.

Where to watch Superman & Lois

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