'Superman & Lois': Who is Captain Luthor?

Superman & Lois packed a lot into its 90-minute pilot on The CW, but the reveal of the identity of the mysterious Stranger (played Wolé Parks) is the moment that has got fans the most excited.

At the end of the episode, the character, who had been attacking nuclear power plants throughout the premiere, was seen in his lair on the top of a snowy mountain. There, he was seen talking to a computer voice about his battle with Superman (Tyler Hoechlin).

The voice then said, "I'll start the upgrades to your armor right away, Captain Luthor." Luthor, obviously, is the surname of Superman's greatest foe Lex Luthor, leading fans to believe that this is a new version of that classic adversary—albeit a completely new one not from the comics.

Of course, the Arrowverse already has a Lex Luthor of its own in the form of Supergirl's Jon Cryer, who has starred alongside Hoechlin's Clark Kent in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover.

Crisis on Infinite Earths, however, may be the key to the question of exactly who Captain Luthor is. At the end of that massive crossover event, all of the over multiverse versions of Earth were destroyed, leaving only what is called Earth Prime, the world where all the Arrowverse shows like The Flash, Supergirl (and now Superman & Lois) take place.

captain luthor superman lois
Tyler Hoechlin in 'Superman & Lois.' The first episode of The CW show introduced new villain Captain Luthor. The CW

This destruction of all the other Earths has led to refugees from across these worlds showing up in other Arrowverse shows. Supergirl, for example, has seen multiple versions of Brainiac-5 turn up, while Batwoman now has a different (less evil) version of Beth Kane (Rachel Skarsten).

Captain Luthor seems like the latest of these other Earth refugees, an alternate Earth version of Supergirl's Lex Luthor.

This was hinted at in the episode in Captain Luthor and Superman's big battle. In this, the former said: "My world was destroyed, but somehow I managed to survive. I eventually arrived here, where I learned you were here too."

Rumors that the show would introduce its own version of Lex Luthor have been swirling since May 2020, when We Got This Covered reported that the show was set to introduce the first Black Lex Luthor—though a fan theory has long speculated that the Superman: The Animated Series was a light-skinned Black man (in reality, the character was based on the Greek actor Telly Savalas).

This introduction also makes sense for the Arrowverse as a whole. With the Supergirl Luthor being celebrated as a hero, there is a new position vacant from a more villainous take on the role.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Superman & Lois showrunner Todd Helbing said: "We wanted to present a villain or an adversary to Superman at the beginning that just felt different and threatening, but could also lead us in ways that you can't necessarily go with like a Jon Cryer version of it.

"So, all I'll really say is you're really going to get this guy's backstory, where he's from, what he was like, where he comes from, his professional life, his personal life. You're gonna get to know why he's going after Superman."

Superman & Lois continues Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CT on The CW.