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The Real Reason Lex Luthor Hates Superman Is Much Deeper Than You May Think

Superman is rightly considered among the most wholesome, heroic characters in pop culture. However, in the DC Universe, he's got one of the biggest haters a hero has ever had in Lex Luthor. 

Over their eighty-plus-year comic book relationship, Lex has sparred with the Man of Steel many times for all kinds of reasons. The egomaniacal billionaire debuted in 1940's "Action Comics" #23, a co-creation of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, and Paul Cassidy. Despite being a "mere"human in an impressive rogues gallery featuring the likes of Brainiac, Doomsday, General Zod, Mongul, and Darkseid, the powerless Luthor has become Superman's primary antagonist. He doesn't see Superman in the same light as most of the general public, instead viewing the altruistic Kryptonian as a potential threat to Earth. Luthor's quest to take down Superman has been brought to life on the big and small screen on multiple occasions, having been played by Gene Hackman in 1978's "Superman," Jesse Eisenberg in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," and next by Nicolas Hoult in the upcoming "Superman" film from James Gunn.

Luthor's reasons for disliking Superman range from an incredible Golden Age explanation involving the villain's hair loss to darker fears about a superhuman alien who is capable of unleashing horrors across the planet. The bottom line is, Lex Luthor hates Superman — here's why.

Superman is responsible for Luthor going bald

Lex Luthor was bald when he was established as Superman's main villain, despite having longer red hair in his first appearance. "Adventure Comics" #271, by Jerry Siegel, Al Plastino, and Mort Weisinger, reveals how he lost his ginger tresses and why he blames the Man of Steel for being folically challenged.

The issue's story flashes back to Luthor meeting Clark Kent when he was still Superboy. Lex saves the hero from Kryptonite exposure after a fragment lands near him on Earth, and the two begin a friendship. The future villain reveals his hero-worship for Superboy, as he has a vast collection of items and trophies related to the young hero. As Luthor pines to become the greatest scientist on the planet, Superboy helps him construct a lab filled with rare chemicals. He warns Lex about being careful with them, but Luthor doesn't listen. During an attempt to surprise Superboy with an antidote for Kryptonite, he accidentally starts a fire and needs to be saved.

Superboy saves Lex from burning alive, but in using his super-breath, he causes a bottle of acid to fall over. The fumes from the spilled chemical almost immediately cause Luthor to go bald. After losing his hair, the young scientist turns on Superboy, telling the hero that he was jealous of Lex's genius and intentionally destroyed his lab, thus causing him to lose his hair. As a result, Luthor's hatred for Superman blossoms, with the day he went bald marking the start of the typically one-sided rivalry.

Why else does Lex Luthor hate Superman?

Of course, Lex Luthor's hatred for Superman goes far beyond the villain just being mad about losing his hair.

Ultimately, Luthor's dislike for Superman is based on jealousy. He sees an alien from another planet get all the attention he desires, and his ego can't handle it. Additionally, Luthor views the Man of Steel's powers, strength, and accomplishments as a slight on humanity, believing that the hero's actions make human discovery, advancements, and development seem small in comparison. Luthor being an egomaniac amplifies his jealous nature, and he struggles seeing someone else receiving the accolades he desires. Nothing Lex can ever do will make him as loved and celebrated as Superman, so he works diligently to try to take him out of the picture.

Superman is truly special, and his powers make him an unstoppable force of heroism. But Luthor sees Superman and his powers as unchecked and extremely dangerous. There is some validity to this stance; if the Man of Steel turned bad, the Earth would have little recourse in stopping him, as variants like Ultraman, the deadliest version of Superman across the entire Multiverse, have proven. However, the fear of Superman turning evil probably doesn't outweigh Lex's outright jealousy, even if the underlying concern is genuine.

In the end, Luthor is the perfect Superman villain due to his unmatched hatred of the hero — for both valid and invalid reasons — that's unrivaled elsewhere in the DC Comics universe.