[This story contains Titans premiere episodes Spoilers for Season 4 “Lex Luthor.”]10
In Season 4 Return, HBO Max’s Titans introduces Lex Luthor, one of Superman’s greatest enemies, and kills him in the same hour.
But before he leaves, in another unexpected twist, Lex, who is revealed to be terminally ill, leaves Joshua Orpin’s Superboy to his empire and legacy Lexcorp . Not only did Lex’s arrival surprise the Titans, but it came at a particularly intriguing moment when Superman didn’t show up for the young hero. 10
While Lex’s existence was short-lived, the actor who played him Titus Welliver understanding that his brief time with Superboy is significant — especially in Superman’s absence — will play a big role in helping shape the arc of Titans season four.
This is Welliver’s carefully prepared role. Knowing the Titans comics, the actor specifies how his Lex fits both the show’s aesthetic and the villain’s mature canon, tells The Hollywood Reporter , “It’s not broken, so you don’t have to fix it.” 10
Still, from that iconic beard is his beloved In a Stan-influenced wardrobe, the actor brings his own nuances to a character with a richly portrayed history. Arguably, it led to one of the most striking features of the Welliver iteration: in fact, it’s not just about Lex.
“It was designed specifically to focus on Superboy’s conflict, in many ways, not to mention Lex Luthor, but to have him as a gateway to [that character] have a deeper understanding,” he shared.
The Hollywood Reporter talks to Welliver about yet another version depicting a famous villain, how Superman’s absence changes the narrative It’s even more interesting how he and the team approached Lex’s look, and why he asked Jaws an inspiration editor when introducing the character.
Titans The villains have a very special vibe that really sets them apart Iterate and confidently fit them into the aesthetics of this particular universe. With so many other Lex Luthors, how did you think about embodying him in the Titans series?
can not deviate from the source, so the idea is to take its absolute core and quintessential role is, if possible, some kind of personal nuance Different representations are thrown into characters that have never been seen before. I think any good actor tries to personalize something — not personalize it according to their own personality, but put a little bit of their own spin or mark on something. I feel like the nature of this show is a very mature and complex version of Titans . This is definitely not the Titan from the comics I read as a kid. These are not “oh crap”, go-to-dancing titans. They’re rough and tumbling, that’s the brilliance of the show. They take this very broad genre and root it so you don’t feel like you’re watching camp when you watch. You feel like you’re invested in the character. For me, that’s the most important thing, to get him a little bit forward.
I guess what I’m trying to do is bring some level of subtlety to that character because it can easily become super broad. It’s an old-fashioned way when you meet someone, and a person might scream, yell, put their hands in the air and say, “I’m going to punch you.” That’s a version. But that person was very, very quiet, speaking in a calm voice – that’s the person you have to worry about. I think I really want to bring him peace. He’s really focused – not without a sense of humour, because he does show it. He has a sense of humor. And to stay away from the “villain” trope, even if it’s fun to play, there’s a time and a place, and Titan isn’t a time or place. Certainly not the place to do so. So this is where I came up with. It’s very collaborative. And I’ve read all the manga, so I can say it very clearly. I have canon knowledge. It was helpful for me to know the source material.
Lex is often referred to as a powerful villain, but he is not a villain with “superpowers”. He’s a mean, ruthless businessman and genius, which is a different kind of challenge for the Titans. Nor is he the opposite of his typical foil Superman. Can you talk about how that contributes to the story?
Well, that’s Lex Luthor’s problem. If you know comic books, you know that his life’s work has been trying — because he doesn’t have superpowers — to create things based on his massive mind, and how to fight and defeat Superman. He became interested in kryptonite early on and used it as a source. Over the years, he has created clones, massive robots and weapons of destruction and things to do with superhumans. I think, in this case, he’s dealing exclusively with Superboy, so it’s taking a different approach. There is no Lex Luthor and Superman scene at all. This is his relationship with his son. I think it’s an interesting dynamic. He’s still the same Lex Luthor with all this power and knowledge to get what he wants, but also has the conflict of his undeniable emotional connection to Superboy. He was dying. He has this disease that is killing him. There is this strange proof that needs to be contacted and possibly passed on to Superboy. He basically said Lexcorp came to you. I don’t have anyone else. Superboy’s answer is I don’t think you are my father. Initially, there was a manipulation because he was a super boy, but he was also a young man. Lex is very manipulative, so when the meeting doesn’t end up happening with Superboy and Superman, you see him hitting a nerve. Superboy brushed it off a bit, but Lex said, “That must have disappointed you.” Superboy kind of took the bait.
It’s not for Superman and Superboy does something funny because it makes Superboy half of him to help form the whole idea of who he is. How does this dynamic affect the character, and ultimately his season arc?
They really brought Lex in to advance the story of Superboy and push him forward because the audience wanted to know more about him Information, and how that affects him – as part Lex Luthor part and part Superman internal conflict. Because [Superboy] sometimes does certain behaviors that excite you, “Oh, that’s Lex.” The idea is also to give the audience a kind of connective tissue to what they’ve seen before. Now they can face it. Everyone knows Lex Luthor, they’ve been anticipating what’s going to happen, and now the character has a physical avatar. That really came into play in the Lex and Superboy scene. It’s a funny thing because these are two people who don’t know each other and they’re polarized in a weird way. But there’s no denying that Superboy has an undeniable curiosity and attraction for Lex. I think for people who are adopted, they live their lives and people love them and raise them, and then they get to a certain age and they want to get to know their biological parents. So I think as a metaphor, it kind of works. I think that speaks to the writing, very, very smart. Having Superman not present – which is elusive – is a vexing problem for Superboy. He only encounters his dark side, which I think presents a deep conflict within him.
No problem with Superman coming back here – this is what the titans have Having dealt with bigger DC characters before and getting exposure to them – what impact do you think this has had on Lex as a character and the show? 10
If you have Superman and Lex together, then it kind of falls into this metaphor, am I going to make a choice? good and evil. What is the dominant energy of this combination? It’s not about that, it’s about this kid’s desire to learn about Superboy’s history and who he is. It’s subtle, but I think it’s also poignant because it’s absolutely unconscionable if one sits down and writes something every now and then. They’re gone, we’re going to bring in Superman, we’re going to bring in Batman. Maybe we’ll put the Joker in. But it’s very specifically designed to focus on the Superboy conflict, in many ways, not to mention Lex Luthor, but to use him as a path to a deeper understanding of Superboy.
You must have a specific opinion about your Lex iteration. The most obvious thing that comes to my mind is the beard, and his clothing. Can you talk about how you and the team think about his performance?
Obviously, he must be bald. Like Batman without a cape can’t have it, so that’s it. The idea of a beard is a bit of a conflict because I have to keep my beard because I’m already attached to another thing. But I think it gave him a different impression. This is not a gray-haired Lex Luthor. He’s still nervous, he’s still very united. To me, a beard represents majesty, because it’s not a small beard, but a big beard on a bare head. The beard ultimately represents — because it’s a beard — a kind of intelligence that comes with it. When you see an older person, that beard represents time and commitment. In a way, it’s always symbolic. People with beards, they are saints.
With this outfit, my thought was that Albert Einstein had multiple identical pairs of pants, shirts, and coats because he didn’t want to confuse him Thinking is trivial, like picking clothes. He doesn’t care about that. It’s not his genius to say, “I’m smart. I don’t have time to pack my clothes.” It’s something that annoys him. So I said, I think Lex is the same. I think he wore multiple black suits, multiple black shirts and ties. That’s his business. He didn’t think so. He gets up, takes a shower, does his thing, and goes in, thinking about nothing. But I want him to be really streamlined. I wanted him to not look sloppy, “I have 10 khakis and a white shirt.” 10
I’m easy, but I’m stressed because for him it’s also about presentations. I said, when this guy enters the room, he doesn’t move for anyone . So having a silhouette like this is important. I also thought a lot – I talked to the producers about this – with Marlon Brando’s role as Colonel Walter Kurtz in Apocalypse Now resemblance. I’ve been saying, hey, when we get the chance, maybe we don’t expose Luthor’s body right away. Maybe reveal him in bits and pieces, maybe half of his face is in shadow. Makes him even more elusive because everyone is like “Oh, Lex Luthor!” I said, let’s do it like a Jaws. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a shark in Jaws and I love the idea that it’s just his voice or you can see his lips or eyes. It’s really been a great collaboration.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
Titans Season 4 airs Thursdays on HBO Max.