How DC Restricted Lex Luthor’s Latest On-Screen Appearance

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Posted:
Titus Welliver as Lex Luthor, Titans, DC logo

HBO Max's Titans has finally included Lex Luthor in Season 4, but it seems that DC's restrictions may have spelled bad news for the Superman villain. 

Titans Season 4 is set to feature Titus Welliver's Lex Luthor in a key role opposite the titular Titans team, but how he exactly fits in the upcoming episodes is still unknown. 

The first Season 4 clip revealed that Lex wants to meet with Connor Kent (Superboy), indicating that the villain might have big plans for the character. 

Moreover, a possible Superman cameo might have also been teased, as spotted by eagle-eyed fans who attended this year's New York Comic-Con, leading fans to speculate if a showdown between the Man of Steel and Lex will happen in Season 4. 

Now, it seems that Lex's further involvement in Titans Season 4 has met an abrupt end due to the ramifications of the show's premiere. 

Titans Showrunner Explains Lex Luthor's Unexpected Stint in Season 4

Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Titans Season 4 Episode 1. 

At the end of the Titans Season 4 premiere, Lex Luthor died (yes, really). Superman's arch-nemesis was brutally killed off when he suddenly spit up blood followed by a serpent that came out of his mouth.

Connor, not knowing what happened, tried to save Lex, but it was too late. Instead, he incinerated the serpent with his heat vision. However, Superboy was blamed for Lex's death, with the villain's security arresting him. 

Titans showrunner Greg Walker sat down with TV Line to talk about the shocking death while also confirming the constraints that DC gave them when it comes to using Lex Luthor in the series. 

Titus Welliver as Lex Luthor, Titans

While admitting his disappointment, Walker noted that they knew "those constraints" so they had to work with them when incorporating the villain: 

“If you wanted more Titus, you should be really disappointed. I’m disappointed. But we knew we had those constraints, and we worked with them.”

By "constraints," Walker revealed that DC would only lend out Lex on a limited basis, but the showrunner pointed out that it is for the best since weaving in characters like Bruce Wayne "tends to gobble up a lot of Titans stories."

Walker also reiterated that Season 4 "really focuses on the Titans:"

“Not they would have given us more than one episode [of Lex], but we also wanted to focus on the Titans. And as you will see, this season really focuses on the Titans and their relationships with each other.”

Titus Welliver, the actor who portrayed Lex in the episode, shared that playing the character in one episode was "bittersweet," explaining that his plot point with Superboy was "so well realized that it wasn’t one of those things where I stepped away from it and went, ’Man, there was so much that I could do, that we could do.’”

Titus Welliver as Lex Luthor, Titans

Welliver also teased a potential return for Lex down the line, mentioning the possibility of the Superman villain having a "clone" in the series: 

“Anybody who knows that world, and knows Lex Luthor, knows that the guy’s got probably clones stashed in his basement! We know that from reading the comics. We’ve thought that Lex Luthor has been killed and, ’Oh, no — that was a clone.’”

The Agents of SHIELD actor also acknowledged that the point of his one-episode appearance was to "propel Superboy's story into the forefront of things, and give the fans of the show something to really bite into, to have a sense of where that character is going."

Moreover, Welliver also described his arc as a "really interesting springboard" for Superboy and Lex's relationship though it was "completely taken away:"

“I thought it was a really interesting springboard. because there’s that moment of slight connection” between son and (one) father, “and then it’s completely taken away.”

In an interview with ScreenRant, Walker also indicated the possibility of a possible Lex Luthor comeback, noting that they "play fast and loose with death" on the show while also teasing fans to "stay tuned:"

"As you know, a fan of the show, [we] play fast and loose with death on Titans. So, nobody's truly dead. As I like to joke around, except maybe Hank [Hall, a.k.a. Hawk,] unless we can scrape some of his DNA off the wall... I think it's gonna be hard to bring him back. But other than that, yeah, stay tuned."

Will Lex Luthor Return in Titans Season 4?

Based on the ending of Season 4's first episode, Lex Luthor is confirmed to be dead in Titans, but given that this is set in a world where characters can make a surprise return, anything is possible. 

For example, Connor Leslie's Donna Troy died at the end of Season 2, but she ultimately returned in Season 3 to help the Titans fend off Scarecrow's attack in Gotham City

Considering Lex's importance to DC lore, there's a good chance that the Superman villain will return at some point despite the constraints from the studio. 

Moreover, the fact that Lex died due to Mother Mayhem's magic could suggest that his demise might be resolved by someone like Teagan Croft's Raven. 

Another way for Lex to come back is through technology. The villain is no stranger to contingencies to continue his legacy, so using a clone could eventually happen if Titans would pursue the idea. 

This isn't the first time that Titans was restricted by famous characters, considering the limited appearances from Bruce Wayne in the first three seasons. In fact, Joker also had a brief yet memorable role in Season 3 due to the Red Hood story arc

All in all, giving these characters a backseat is intentional as it allows the titular superhero team to shine as they move forward with their own small-screen adventures. 

The first two episodes of Titans Season 4 are now streaming on HBO Max. 

- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.