Every superhero needs a villain, and Superman is no exception as his archvillain is one of the most popular characters in fiction, Lex Luthor. This is why it doesn’t surprise us that Lex has been one of the most common characters in Superman’s stories, as over the long years of the character’s existence, he has appeared in 15 movies and TV shows. We decided to revisit Lex Luthor‘s live-action past and summarize the perfect watch order for all of his live-action versions.
All movies & TV shows featuring Lex Luthor in order
The first time Lex Luthor appeared in a movie featuring Superman was in 1978. a lot of time has passed since then, and his on-screen persona evolved from being sort of a campy, humorous character to the biggest threat that the DC Universe has seen.
Lex Luthor’s last appearance was in the CW’s DC-based superhero show ‘Superman & Lois,’ and they managed to put sort of a brawler spin on his whole character, which is quite a different approach. Here are all the movies & shows in which Lex Luthor appeared in release date order over the years.
- ‘Superman: The Movie’ (1978)
- ‘Superman II’ (1981)
- ‘Superman IV: The Quest For Peace’ (1987)
- ‘Superboy’ (1988 – 1992)
- ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’ (1993 – 1997)
- ‘Smallville’ (2001-2011)
- ‘Superman Returns’ (2006)
- ‘Supergirl’ (2015-2021)
- ‘Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice’ (2016)
- ‘Justice League’ (2017)
- ‘Batwoman’ (Season 1, 2019)
- ‘Arrow’ (Season 8, 2020)
- ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
- ‘Titans’ (2018-2023 Season 2 & 4)
- ‘Superman & Lois’ (2021 – , Season 3)
This watch order may contain spoilers, so proceed with caution
Are all Lex Luthor’s live-action appearances connected & what is the best way to watch them?
Most of Lex Luthor’s appearances aren’t connected. In fact, they aren’t even set in the same continuity. Even though you can outline the franchises and universes where his appearances take place, your best bet is to watch all movies featuring Luthor in release date order.
His “personal” journey will not make sense, but at least you’re going to see how the character evolved through the years from a campy “used car salesman” type of character to a sinister billionaire with ulterior motives all the way to the brawny psychopath that ‘Superman & Lois’ showcased.
Movies & shows featuring Lex Luthor in chronological order
As we’ve said, it wouldn’t make sense to order Lex Luthor’s appearances in chronological order because the timeline & continuity in which he appears as a baby are not the same timeline & continuity in which he appears as an adult. Still, since Luthor has been featured in plenty of franchises over the years, those franchises have their own in-universe chronology that you should watch while revisiting them.
Lex Luthor in Christopher Reeve’s ‘Superman’
Luthor appeared in 3 out of 4 ‘Superman’ movies played by Gene Hackman in Christopher Reeve’s ‘Superman’ movies. This in-universe chronology is fairly straightforward; all you need to do is follow the above-mentioned release date order. Lex Luthor also appears in 2006 ‘Superman Returns’, played by Kevin Spacey but since the movie ignores the events that took place in prior movies of the franchise, we’re not sure where to place it regarding in-universe chronology.
Luthor appears in all seasons of ‘Superboy’ series with a change of actors as Scott James Wells portrayed the character in the first season until the showrunners moved with Sherman Howard for all subsequent seasons. Lex Luthor is featured in 22 episodes from 1989 through 1992.
‘Lois & Clark’ The New Adventures of Superman
John Shea appears in all seasons of ‘Lois & Clark’ and is featured in 26 episodes from season 1 until the final season 4, so if you’re interested in Luthor’s character growth, you might watch this show as a whole since he is a pretty important character in it.
Plenty of fans consider Michael Rosenbaum to be the best on-screen Lex Luthor in the history of his adaptations, and Rosenbaum delivered class-a acting in a whooping ten seasons of the show.
Lex Luthor was a regular part of ‘Smallville’ from season 1 until season 8. He wasn’t featured in season 9 at all and only appeared in 2 episodes of season 8 and one finale episode of season 10. So, if you’re only interested in Lex, the show’s latter seasons might not interest you. All in all, Luthor appears in 155 episodes.
Lex Luthor in DCEU
Luthor was heavily referenced in ‘Man of Steel,’ but his first actual appearance was in ‘Batman v Superman’ played by Jesse Eisenberg. Even though a lot of people were disappointed with his portrayal of the character, he appeared in the post-credits scenes of ‘Justice League’ and Snyder’s Cut.
If you’re planning on re-watching the whole DCEU just to get a glimpse of Luthor’s story, you’re in for one long ride, and Luthor is technically only in one movie. However, the best chronology to follow is the release date order of DCEU films.
Lex Luthor in Arrovwerse
Lex Luthor debuted in the Arrovwerse in ‘Supergirl’ season 2 and was played by Aidan Fink as young Luthor. However, he got a lot more prominent role later on when Jon Cryer played him. He appeared in 20 episodes in total, being featured in seasons 4, 5 and 6. Luthor also appeared in two crossover episodes in Arroverse: ‘Batwoman’ Season 1 Episode 9 ‘Crisis on Infinity Earths: Part Two’ and ‘Arrow’ Season 8 Episode 8 titled ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part 4.’
Luthor was a secondary character in Arrovwerse, so if you’re planning on watching all the shows just to catch a glimpse of him here and there, you can check out our Arrovwerse watch order.
Lex Luthor appears in 2 episodes of ‘Titans’ as a child in Season 2, Episode 6 and played by Titus Welliver in Season 4 episode 1. ‘Titans’ has its own in-universe chronology and it’s not connected to other major franchises on this list.
‘Superman & Lois’
And the latest Luthor’s live-action appearance came in the so-far latest ‘Superman & Lois’ season released this year. Lex Luthor appears in Episodes 12 and 13 in Season 3 and is played by Michael Cudlitz. Since ‘Superman & Lois’ is technically not a part of the Arrovwerse, you can watch the show without catching up with the rest of the shows on this list.
Where to watch the above-mentioned movies & shows?
To check out all Lex Luthor’s live-action appearances, you will have to visit quite a few streaming services. Here’s the list.
|Movie / TV Show||Where to watch|
|‘Superman: The Movie’||Max, Apple TV|
|‘Superman IV: The Quest For Peace’||Max, Apple TV|
|‘Superboy’||Apple TV, Amazon Prime|
|‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’||Max, Apple TV|
|‘Smallville’||Hulu, Apple TV, Disney+|
|‘Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice’||Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Max|
|‘Justice League’||Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Max|
|‘Snyder Cut’||Max, Apple TV|
|‘Batwoman’||Max, Apple TV|
|‘Arrow’||Apple TV, Netflix|
|‘Titans’||Max, Apple TV|
|‘Superman & Lois’||Max, Apple TV|
Will there be more movies or shows featuring Lex Luthor?
There will be more live-action movies featuring Lex Luthor since he is set to appear in the newly revamped DCU as a part of Gunn’s ‘Superman: Legacy.’ We don’t have much news related to his specific role, but if the movie turns out to be a success, Luthor has a bright DCU future ahead of him.