If you’re wondering how to cope with the results of last night’s United States Presidential Election, let’s travel all the way back to the year 2000 and the Lex2000 Campaign!
While the ACTUAL United States was embroiled in the George W. Bush vs. Al Gore campaign, the DC Comics Universe had a serious third party candidate running for President: Billionaire industrialist and supervillain Alexander “Lex” Luthor!
Now, comic book readers and superheroes knew that Lex Luthor was a pretty bad dude, but that wasn’t knowledge the general public had. To the country, Luthor was just a guy who pulled himself up from his bootstraps with the help of his family name to create a personalized brand that stretched across any number of industries. While he had no history of civic engagement or a record of public service, he ran on a platform of making the country great, without the help of aliens like Superman. Huh. That sounds somewhat familiar, doesn’t it?
Yeah, President Lex Luthor and President-Elect Donald J. Trump may be a pretty apt comparison. Except Luthor may have had a better public reputation despite trying to murder Superman on a regular basis.
While running for President, everyone thought the Luthor candidacy was a joke or that the American people would fight back and see through his façade and not vote for the DC Comics Universe’s biggest bad. Superman even refused to publicly denounce his candidacy, believing that the citizens of the United States would come through and do what Superman thought was the right thing.
The best part was comic shops giving away Vote Lex pins (below) as the campaign dragged on. I loved those pins.
It didn’t really work out the way Superman expected, though, and Alexander Luthor – with his Vice Presidential running mate Pete Ross of Kansas, one of Clark’s closest childhood friends – beat Bush and Gore and became the 43rd President of the United States. Superman felt like he had no choice but to congratulate his former foe and new Commander-in-Chief. Oddly enough, shortly after the post-Crisis reboot, Lex Luthor attempted to sexually assault Lana Lang, another of Clark’s childhood friends and now the wife of Pete Ross. And no one seemed to have any problem with any of this.
I’m telling you, these Luthor-Trump comparisons are just piling up, aren’t they? I mean, allegedly…
Here’s the goof, though. President Lex Luthor turned out to be a pretty good leader of the free world. Turned out, his pride kept him from abusing the power of the Oval Office and he became a pretty good president. The country began to turn towards a better direction and even Superman had to grudgingly admit that the former villain may have actually turned a corner.
I have a feeling that’s where the Trump-Luthor comparisons may stop… Although maybe they come back for the ending, where it was eventually revealed that Luthor got was negotiating with the planet Apokolips and it’s evil leader, Darkseid. While he got away with that transgression – and helped lead the world through the “Our Worlds At War” mega-crossover, he eventually couldn’t overcome the urge to take out Superman and eventually attacked the Man of Steel after injecting himself with Kryptonite. Everything came out and Luthor was eventually impeached, allowing Ross to take over, however briefly. The end of Luthor’s presidency came somewhat out of nowhere, with the start of writer Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman series in 2003.
The concept of Luthor as President was a pretty popular one, and it became a part of several different media interpretations of the character, although it was usually in an alternate universe or in a dream sequence. In the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, the Luthor of the Justice Lords realm murdered the Flash, leading to the League becoming evil and kicking off a pretty intense story.
Best of all, was the flash-forward sequence in the TV show Smallville, where Michael Rosenbaum’s Luthor sees himself as president during a sequence in a first-season episode.
So, hey, you never know. Maybe President Donald J. Trump will be a great President. No one expected it from Luthor. Anything is possible, although maybe not as likely…