In 1978, nearly four decades after he was introduced in Action Comics #23, Lex Luthor was brought to life by Gene Hackman in Superman: The Movie, and to this day it remains one of the most popular portrayals of the character. Fast-forward 18 years, The Shawshank Redemption star Clancy Brown was first heard as Lex Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series. However, Brown didn’t draw any inspiration from Hackman’s Luthor performance when crafting his take on the Man of Steel’s arch-nemesis, as he’s not the biggest fan of those original Superman movies.
Clancy Brown revealed this to me when I interviewed him on behalf of Superman: The Animated Series’ Blu-ray release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. When I inquired about if he turned to Hackman’s Lex Luthor during his preparation to voice the supervillain for the Kids’ WB follow-up to Batman: The Animated Series, he responded:
The actor Clancy Brown is referring to is Stanley Jones, with his version of Lex Luthor appearing in more Super Friends episodes than any other comic book villain. Super Friends aired from 1973 to 1986, so there was a period when Luthor could simultaneously be enjoyed in live-action and animation. In Brown’s case, it was Super Friends’ version of the character (who led the Legion of Doom) who had the more substantial impact on him, particularly because he was always bald, whereas Hackman’s Luthor frequently wore a wig. Following his time on Superman: The Movie, Hackman reprised Luthor in 1980’s Superman II and 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, and with 2006’s Superman Returns acting as an homage sequel to the first two Superman movies, Kevin Spacey took over the role.
As far as Clancy Brown goes, he voiced Lex Luthor in 20 episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, as well as recurred on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Brown has also voiced non-DCAU versions of the character in projects like The Batman (the animated series), Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and Lego DC Super-Villains. The actor’s recent credits include Promising Young Woman, Invincible and the soon-to-arrive Dexter: New Blood, and he’s currently shooting John Wick: Chapter 4.
Superman: The Animated Series is now available on Blu-ray, and the show can also be streamed on HBO Max. Those of you looking for live-action Superman content can expect Superman & Lois Season 2 to premiere on The CW sometime in early 2022, and Michael B. Jordan is developing a Val-Zod-focused series for HBO Max.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.