Supergirl: Did Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor live up to expectations?


Superman’s arch-nemesis and Lena Luthor’s brother, Lex, debuted on The CW’s Supergirl to much pomp and flair. What did we make of Jon Cryer’s performance? Spoilers ahead!

Jon Cryer’s appearance as Lex Luthor on Supergirl has been teased for months. He finally made his debut during episode 15, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” in quintessential Lex fashion – attempting to pull off an absurd scheme in the hopes of finally defeating Superman and claiming the title of “The Man of Tomorrow.” We learn all this through his dialogue with his sister, Lena (Katie McGrath), who Lex has tied to a chair. It isn’t long before SWAT teams break in and arrest Lex.

As introductions go, this was as Lex Luthor as it could get, but Cryer’s performance came across as a little uncertain. It seemed the weight of lifting a career-long stereotype of being the funny guy may have been too much for him; but we were wrong.

When viewers see Lex next, he is strapped to a wheelchair, an IV drip in his arm, pleading with Lena to help cure him of Kryptonite poisoning. Lena only agrees to do so, because Lex can help her correct the Kryptonite she has created so that she can use it to heal James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). James had been shot in the final scene of episode 14 by an unknown assailant. We find out more about that attempted murder through Lena and Lex’s conversations.

For the majority of episode 15 of Supergirl, Lex’s intention appears to be focused on curing himself. He uses every means necessary to get Lena to succeed – condescension, sibling banter, arrogance. When Lex shares his feelings with Lena, it appears that the Supergirl showrunners are trying to create a different kind of Lex for the series. Perhaps prison and his own mortality have really changed him?

Supergirl — “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” — Image Number: SPG415b_0202b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor and Katie McGrath as Lena Luthor — Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

It all turns out to be trickery, however, and Lena falls for it, as we find out in the denouement of the episode. Lex had been planning this encounter with Lena for months – he’d pulled strings in the government to coax Colonel Haley (April Parker Jones) into sponsoring Lena’s research, and when that wasn’t working fast enough, he had James shot. Given the closeness between Lena and James, Lex knew his sister would not be able to allow James to die when the possibility to save him was within her grasp. Talk about a conniving villain!

But to really prove that Lex is always the smartest man in the room, he reveals that the vindictive guard keeping watch on him was actually Otis Graves (Robert Baker), presumed dead, but in reality hiding in plain sight, disguised by an image inducer and working for Lex. Worse still, sweet and endearing Eve Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) also turns out to be in cahoots with Lex. All this while Eve has been Lena’s strongest supporter — this is the kind of shocking betrayal that cements Lex’s place as one of the worst villains yet on Supergirl.

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Cryer was a surprise choice for Lex Luthor, but his performance and some effective comic book-style writing by Derek Simon and Nicki Holcomb certainly put to rest fans’ concerns. Episode 15 was very much a Lex Luthor show, but it also wrapped up a few other plotlines.Tthe long-awaited confrontation between J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) and Manchester Black (David Ajala) ended with Manchester seemingly dying. Elsewhere, Nia Nal (Nicole Maines) made her romantic feelings for Brainiac-5 (Jesse Rath) apparent, and James was ultimately saved. The drawback to this episode was that all the women’s characterizations were put on the backburner so as to propel the story arcs of the men.

This rare blip in the show’s storytelling aside, episode 15 does set up some interesting questions. Will Lex join forces with the current season’s villain, Sam Witwer’s Ben Lockwood? If he does, that would be a new low, even for Lex. Power-hungry is one thing, but being a white nationalist? Is Lex also connected to the Red Daughter in Kasnia? Was she the result of his Red Sun experiment at the start of the episode?

Next. Watch Supergirl season 4, episode 16 trailer. dark

So many questions and only a handful of episodes left to answer them all. Cryer’s Lex has piqued our curiosity,and while fans are looking forward to seeing more of him, hopefully his arc will not come at the cost of developing the female characters – especially Lena – and their own personal story growth.