Although he turned down an opportunity to appear in Crisis On Infinite Earths, Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor as seen in Smallville still has a surprising offscreen role in the crossover.
During Batwoman’s episode Crisis On Infinite Earths: Part Two, Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin), Lois Lane (Bitsie Tulloch) and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) travel to Earth-167, which is revealed to be Smallville. Here, we see Smallville’s Clark Kent (Tom Welling) chopping some wood outside his home. The trio warn him that Lex Luthor is traveling throughout the multiverse to kill him. It is here where Clark mentions that he “didn’t know that the President was in town,” referencing Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor.
So as it turns out, in the years following Smallville’s series finale, Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor became President of the United States. This follows some comic book stories in which Superman’s mortal enemy becomes President. This storyline in the comics is often brought up in recent years due to some finding parallels between Lex Luthor and Donald Trump.
In Smallville’s series finale that aired in 2011, it is revealed that Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor was elected in 2018. It’s funny to see how certain story decisions are revisited after all these years, even if it’s paralleling real-life events in such sheer irony.
Michael Rosenbaum portrayed Lex Luthor in the first seven seasons of Smallville, returning for the series finale in 2011.
The time has come for a Smallville reboot. Why now? Well, there are a myriad of reasons. Would this be a Superman television show featuring his origin story? No, this would be a straight-up reboot/revival of the original, and this is how and why it should happen.
First things first — why is now the right time to revive Smallville? DC Comics are going strong on The CW, and the network is not planning to slow down on its superhero slate any time soon.
A Smallville reboot would mean existing outside of the Arrow-verse. Black Lightninghas proven that existing in a solo universe can be done successfully. The rebooted Smallville would take place in the same world as the original and therefore function as more of a revival than a reboot. How and why?
Well, this Smallville reboot would take things back in time a little, and it would not focus on the characters you may expect. Instead of focusing on Clark Kent/Superman, this series would focus on the Luthors — specifically, Lex and his dad, Lionel Luthor.
Yes, The Luthors would be the name of this proposed reboot. No, I am not getting ahead of myself (okay maybe just a little).
Why the Luthors? Because they were two of the best parts of an overall fantastic show, which honestly had no bad ones. Lex and Lionel Luthor’s relationship brought a rich dynamic to the original series. They were the exact opposite of Clark and his father, Jonathan Kent. Lex felt unloved by his father, while Lionel felt like he loved his son in a way that made him “stronger.”
Neither character was an out-and-out villain; rather, the epitome of complicated. Where the Kents were the heart of Smallville, the Luthors were its conflicted soul. When the series lost them, it lost a vast portion of itself and nothing ever filled that void.
If Smallville were to come back, the dream scenario would be for it to focus on the Luthors. You may be wondering: didn’t we already see their story? Yes, but not from their perspective. This revival would not be about the Luthors in the context of their juxtaposition with the Kents. It would be about them independent of the shadow cast by Superman and his family.
Do not get me wrong. I loved that angle of Smallville. However, you cannot rehash past magic; you have to rediscover new aspects to it. So many of the complaints surrounding retreads of any sort is that they are an unnecessary continuation of something that has already been done. In the case of a Smallville revival approached this way, it would be different. The blend of something familiar with a twist of something new.
The CW has told a lot of its stories from the perspective of its heroes, which makes total sense. Telling one from its “villains” would set this project apart. Of course, going this route, the Luthors would not be portrayed as villains. It would keep them close to the moral fiber they demonstrated earlier in the series’ run.
There would be no time table necessary to make that happen on this proposed Smallville revival. By not having Superman present, there is no pressure for Lex’s identity to be dictated, and him to become Clark’s enemy in a certain period.
Given how Smallville left Lex and Lionel’s stories, you may wonder how any of this would be possible. After all, Smallville ended its run with a clone of Lex becoming President of the United States.
To explain all of this, the revival could take things back in time. How far back? Way back, as in Lex being institutionalized far back. Explaining this shift could be done via alternate timeliness or some other plot device. There is a specific event that could serve as the jumping off point for the revival.
The Smallville arc where Lex is committed to Belle Reve and given the electro-shock treatment that wipes his memory would be ideal. Those episodes of Season 3 (Episode 8 and 9) were two of the series’ absolute best. They contained defining moments for all involved, especially Lex and his father.
There was also no going back after those episodes. Lex was on a collision course to becoming Clark’s enemy. In the mythos for this proposed Smallville reboot, let’s imagine a world where Lex did not return to Smallville following his release. Rather, he went to Metropolis and made a life for himself there. The show could pick up an indeterminate time after the events of that episode.
The show could go full-tilt into Lex’s life as a businessman replete with boardroom showdowns and potential takeovers. There would be no shortage of stories to tell in that vein. Let Lex live his lavish life the way he did in the original, devoid of Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen’s broody approach. Let Lex be more of the anti-hero than the villain.
Lex being haunted by what he can and cannot remember could weigh on him. Such a twist could provide the underlying drama that is revisited time and again. That is not entirely necessary though.
The dream would be for the original cast to return and for Michael Rosenbaum and John Glover to reprise their roles as the Luthors. Both of these extraordinary actors brought so much to Smallville.
Personally, Michael Rosenbaum’s performance as Lex Luthor is the gold standard. No one else has brought what he did to portraying the character in any medium. He found the complexity so inherent in Lex, and no matter the storyline, always played it with profound sincerity.
Likewise, John Glover brought a gravitas to Lex’s father that was always multi-layered. It was hard to ever agree with Lionel. However, Glover’s performance always made you willing to hear Lionel out. Glover and Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayals of Lionel and Lex were the exceptional epicenters that drove a great deal of Smallville.
If Tom Welling or anyone else were willing to come back for a Smallville revival that could work too, and it would be amazing. One of the great parts of bringing the show back to this point in its history is that it would allow for fan favorites to return. John Schneider’s Jonathan Kent is among the many that could make an appearance. In this timeline, he and others could still be alive.
Smallville was such a special show and to have it revisited in any form would be exciting. Even if it is as a limited series or (hopefully) something longer-term, it would be marvelous. If it were to ever happen, this or something along these lines is how this fan would like it to see it come to fruition.
For years, fans got to enjoy Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor, butting heads with Clark Kent on The WB’s classic series Smallville. And seven years after the show has gone off the air, it seems like he’s ready to return to the diabolical genius.
Responding to the reports of Henry Cavill potentially leaving the role of Superman in future cinematic appearances, Rosenbaum made a humorously tongue-in-cheek comment.
Rosenbaum took a shot at the current actor with the mantle of Lex, as Jesse Eisenberg has already played the character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. But after the poor reception and box office performances of those movies, it remains to be seen if there are plans for Eisenberg to reprise the role.
There might be an opening for Rosenbaum, especially with the launch of the new streaming service DC Universe. That platform will be home to original content as well as past shows and films, and many fans are requesting Smallville to be added to the service.
There’s also the possibility that Smallville could be revived as an animated series with the original cast, picking up where the show left off as Clark Kent embraced his destiny as Superman. Without the limits of a TV budget, the animated series could do what the original series could not in terms of full scale superhero battles fitting for the Man of Steel.
“I mean, animated could be fun,” Welling said.
“I said to Al [Gough, Smalville co-creator], we should do an animated Smallville,” Rosenbaum replied. “That would be huge! I mean, Smallville: The Animated Series, with all the real voices? And I wouldn’t have to shave my head! We’ve got to do that. Can you imagine us on mics doing the same dialogue?”
“Yeah, absolutely,” Kreuk said. “I’ve never thought about it, but that sounds like it could be a lot of fun… Michael wouldn’t want to shave his head again, I’m fairly certain. But yeah, that would be a lot of fun. I haven’t seen those guys in a long time.”
It’s just a matter of time until someone starts a petition for a Smallville animated series, so be on the lookout…
Earlier this week, Smallville alum Kristin Kreuk was asked if she would be up for a reunion project, to which she answered with an earnest, “Yeah, absolutely. I’ve never thought about it, but that sounds like it could be a lot of fun.”
Of course, Kreuk isn’t the first former cast member of the young Superman series to express their interest in such an endeavor. Both Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, who played Clark Kent and Lex Luthor respectively on the series, have entertained the idea of coming back together to tell more Smallville stories in animated form.
Even Justin Hartley, who played Oliver Queen/Green Arrow on the long-running show, said he’d be up for a guest stint on Arrow if the role was right. On top of all that, Erica Durance, who played Smallville’s Lois Lane, is already guest starring on Supergirl, which means she is obviously willing to continue to be a part of the DC television family.
So far, everyone one of Smallville‘s main actors who have been asked have indicate they’re willing to revisit the roles they famously played. But why stop at an animated series when we could have a full blown crossover with the rest of the Arrowverse?
How could such a crossover come about? Well, that’s relatively easy. The Arrowverse, and more specifically the Grant Gustin-starring Flash television series, has established the DC Multiverse as a basic part aspect of its heroes’ mythology. Many characters from other alternate Earths have popped up over the years, and some of the main heroes have even visited alternate Earths, like Supergirl’s universe or the nazi-led Earth-X. There is nothing stopping the Smallville universe from simply being re-introduced as one of the 52 Earths that constitutes this Multiverse.
With the Flash, Vibe and the Legends of Tomorrow all able to access alternate realities and timelines, any one of them could be what serves as the bridge between the two shows’ realities, allowing the casts of both universes to freely interact. Stephen Amell’s Arrow could meet with an alternate, older version of himself that just so happens to look like Justin Hartley, Supergirl could meet different versions of not only herself, but her cousin and Lois Lane, and Rosenberg’s Lex Luthor could be the villain everyone has to stop together.
Of course, such a project wouldn’t be without its complications. For example, both Welling and Rosembaum are more eager to return for an animated project, given that the Lex Luthor actor isn’t exactly itching to shave his head. However, a return appearance could easily explain such things as Luthor’s hair, or the aging of the characters. In fact, the Smallville universe could be painted as some sort of Kingdom Come-esque reality where the heroes are older, more experienced, and perhaps even being phased out. This would allow Welling’s Superman to be a more grizzled Man of Steel, with a costume that would prevent Welling from having to don the classic Superman suit he was never really keen on wearing. In fact, a more practical costume for his older Superman would be just one more layer to ensuring this venture would stand out in fans’ eyes.
A crossover between Smallville and the Arrowverse cast seems like a no-brainer, one that really should have happened by now. There is immense possibility for fun interactions, and it would also be a nice way to acknowledge the success of Smallville, and the universe of superheroes it led to. But even more than that, it’s something that most fans would love to see. It could easily become a highly-anticipated event, and a milestone of modern television. With most of the main cast members of Smallville willing to return for a reunion of some sort, what better way then to rope the series up into the Arrowverse, and show us a possible future for a dearly departed series.
Lex Luthor is a tough act to follow, a notion that isn’t lost on actor Michael Rosenbaum who portrayed the iconic Superman villain for seven of Smallville’s ten-year run. It was at that point, after having extended his six-year contract by one, that he set out on his own path, believing, as proud as he was of the Luthor role, that he had even more to offer the audience, particularly when it came to humor.
He got a chance to test that theory in the short-lived 2011 series Breaking In, but has really come into his own in Impastor, which is embarking on its second season. Rosenbaum plays Buddy Dobbs, something of a slacker with a gambling debt that is proving detrimental to his health. Running out of options, he’s ready to end it all by jumping off a bridge, but is saved by a young gay reverend who, while doing so, accidentally plunges to his own death. Suddenly Buddy is given new purpose: to take the reverend’s identity and proceeding to the small town the reverend was appointed to that has no idea he isn’t who he claims to be. What follows is his immersing himself in this new life, always looking over his shoulder for the moment when the truth becomes known and he has to flee. Think of it as The Fugitive, but with weed, sex and political incorrectness.
There seemed to be something surprising in you doing a series for TV Land in the States, but here you are, going into your second season.
That was my reaction when my agent gave me the script. He said, “It’s written by Eric Tannenbaum and it’s for TV Land.” I go, “TV Land? Look, man, I love I Dream Of Jeannie and I’m a big Gilligan’s Islandfan, but I don’t want to do a show on TV Land. I don’t want to do that kind of fluff stuff.” They’re, like, “No, they’re changing their network.” I said, “I’ve heard that they’re changing and then you go in there and you can’t say ‘damn.’ You have to say ‘crap.'” But then I read the Impastor script and realized it was really good and we say “cock” on page eight, we say “shit” on page twelve. Buddy’s banging a prostitute. He said, “They want to do the show. They want to make it edgy, they want to make it fun, they want it to be serialized, shot like a movie, not a sitcom.” I went and had a conversation with Eric, who said he wanted me to executive produce the show with him. His words were, “Michael, I want you to be part of the creation. I want you to be part of the casting I want you to be involved in everything.” I didn’t believe they would, but they picked it up.
And then they picked it up for a second season.
Right? And I admire them for being patient and really believing in a show that is, I feel, unique and unlike anything on TV. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it still has edge, it surprises you, the characters are fun, it’s shot beautifully, it’s serialized, it’s quirky, it’s Fletch-like, it’s easy to watch and it’s only twenty-two minutes of your life. I think that getting people in this oversaturated business where there’s a billion shows, is amazing. Getting people to watch it is the hard part, but when they do, then they tell other people. The truth is, you have only ten episodes nowadays and it’s hard to keep an audience. You come back a year later and try to get the same audience to come back and hope that it grows.
The advantage in the shorter season model in that, yes, you’ve got the opportunity to craft ten really solid episodes, but maintaining that audience is a challenge. On the other hand, much like you had with Smallville, there’s the twenty-two episode season run, which oftentimes has so much filler that it can dilute the dramatic thrust of the season.
How did they do it? How do you write twenty-two episodes a year? That’s ten months a year we’re working. We had freak of the week on Smallville for a while, but how couldn’t you? You can’t write twenty-two brilliant episodes a year. You just can’t do it. It’s hard to write tenbrilliant episodes a year, but if most of your episodes are compelling or good and keep the audience engaged, then you’re in good shape.
In some ways it seems like a tough premise for a series to sustain; the rug could be pulled out from under him at any second.
How Buddy got to this town is the most ridiculous thing you can imagine. He could always just split, but something’s keeps him around. He’s got this house, the town is so small and the people actually believe he’s this guy; they didn’t do any research on him and, on top of it, he’s starting to like some of them. And he’s, like, “Wow, this is the best scam I’ve ever done. I’ve got this prostitute on the side, I can steal some weed, I have to do these crappy sermons every once in a while, I have this beautiful house, I’ve got this assistant who will do anything for me.” At the same time, the keys are always in the ignition, he’s always ready to go if something happens, but there’s something keeps him there. Call it divine intervention, call it whatever you want, I think it’s fun. There’s an article on Zap2it that I always loved because I’m a huge Chevy Chase fan and it said he has a Fletch-like twinkle in his eye … It is kind of an edgy Fletch.
It seems that Buddy is evolving the longer he’s involved with these people, despite still being a bit of an asshole. Do you feel that he’s changing?
I think that Buddy’s so used to getting shit on and then shitting right back on people as a defense mechanism. It’s like when someone says, “Screw you,” you say, “Screw you” back and you get so used to that that he just expects that out of people; he doesn’t expect good out of people. Then he comes to this town and meets someone like Dora, played by Sara Rue, who’s awesome in the show. You know, “There’s just no way she’s this good. Something’s messed up, she’s not this good.” But then he starts to realize that there are good people out there and that kind of messes him up a little bit, because he’s not used to it. Then he starts realizing that some of his actions are actually hurting people. Does that stop him? I don’t know if it stops him, but it might make him… pause. I mean, the guy does have feelings. I think that he doesn’t want to hurt these people, and even wants to bang a few of them.
I also think he wants to make a little money and try to live the high life until he is forced to get out of there or he gets caught. He’s not really a bad guy, I just think he grew up in a bad part of town, he didn’t have a mom and dad around, he didn’t have good role models, and he’s just kind of looking out for himself. If he doesn’t look out for himself, no one else will. If he has to take advantage of something and it hurts someone else, he doesn’t feel great about it, but he tends to do it.
You’re so enthusiastic talking about Impastor but it really has been something of a bumpy road career wise, hasn’t it, since you were so determined to get off of Smallville after season seven?
I remember sitting with Peter Roth, the president of Warner Brothers … I’ve never really told this story. Everybody has an ego and I think everybody likes to get their way. Peter took me to dinner, because he tried to get me to do two more seasons of Smallville. I was very polite and respectful. I said, “Peter, my grandma thinks I’m funny and I’ve always wanted to do comedy, and I started out in comedy, and I was doing tons of comedy, and then I was catapulted into this role that I love and it’s been great, but I was contracted for six years to play Lex Luthor, I did seven, and I’m just ready to move on and I’m just ready to take a new step.” He looked at me and says, “You know, Julianna Margulies, she turned down millions of dollars to stay with ER and look where she is now.” It wasn’t two or three years later where she just made a fortune with The Good Wife and all of that, and her career just took off. I said, “I’m going to bank on my talent. I’m just going to take a chance on me. I think I’ve done this long enough, I did this character for seven years and I just don’t feel like shaving my head for two more years.” I came back for the finale, but at the time I just wanted to take a chance.
The transition was what I thought it would be. I remember Greg Beeman, who directed License to Drive, The Wonder Years and a lot of Smallville episodes, said, “You realize, dude, you’re the only person in the cast that looks different. Once you grow your hair out, you won’t look like you.” I hadn’t thought of that. I called my agent and said, “Hey, set up general meetings with everybody. They need to see me with hair.” We started doing that and then I was cast on Breaking In. Then I directed my first feature [2014’s Back In The Day] with Morena Baccarin, Nick Swardson, and Harland Williams. I couldn’t have done more … Again, I think you really have to know your ability and you have to know who you are. It wasn’t ego, it wasn’t, “I’m not doing Smallville because I’m too good for it.” It was more, “Hey, I’ve got more to offer.” Look, luck is a commodity of preparation and opportunity and I feel like I’m always prepared when that moment comes. I think it comes down to just believing in yourself.
You mentioned that you appeared in the last episode of Smallville. What was your feeling about the way the show ended?
Here’s the thing: I didn’t watch the last three seasons, because I wasn’t in it. Call me egotistical, call me whatever, but that’s the reason I didn’t watch the show. I was working and getting my shit together. But I finally called them up and said, “Hey, look, it’s the last episode ever. I’ll do it, you’ve got me for one day next week.” When I got there I was, like, “What’s happened since I left?” I had no idea what was going on. There were moments where I just didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. I liked my scenes with Tom Welling, but I felt like the show was, for me, done when I left in season seven. Then I sort of did it for the fans and did it for me for closure and to say, “Hey, I did come back.” I did do it, and that’s ultimately why.
Do you realize that this is Smallville’s 15th anniversary?
Holy shit. You just made me feel really old, but I’m proud of it. I have fans all over the world because of that show and I love them. I go to Australia, I go to England…people just embrace it. You can’t be luckier as an actor or as a human being to feel that sort of accomplishment, and if that’s all I did — if I was just Lex Luthor — it would be enough. It really would be enough to go back home to New Berg, Indiana, where there are, like, 3,000 people in the town and where I wasn’t supposed to do anything. To say you were this iconic, legendary character for seven years. I would’ve mowed my lawn with a smile on my face.
That’s right! Celebrating it’s 15th Anniversary, Hulu has announced that the entire series of Smallville will be available to stream starting on October 1st!
Smallville ended in 2011, having reached 10 seasons. The series starred Tom Welling as Clark Kent, Allison Mack, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum and John Schneider.
Make sure to check it out on Hulu on October 1st!
The Kentucky Museum will now have villainous ties to the comic book world as Lex Luthor’s suit is prepared to go on display.
Michael Rosenbaum, a WKU alumnus, played Luthor, arch nemesis of Superman, on the TV series “Smallville.” Rosenbaum is donating one of Luthor’s suits to the museum’s Instruments of American Excellence exhibit.
“It’s the white suit that Lex Luthor wears… when he becomes president in the future and we see glimpses of that throughout the ‘Smallville’ series,” he said.
The exhibit, which opened in the fall of 2012, showcases many artifacts from American history and pop culture, ranging from heels worn by actress Liza Minnelli to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s first telescope. Regional items, such as Louisville Slugger bats, are also on display.
“The thrust of this exhibit is having ordinary things that people used to do extraordinary things,” John Perkins, director of development and special projects, said.
All items in the collection were received as donations, including Rosenbaum’s latest addition.
“It was a joint effort by our chair Dan Murph and a number of board members to tell people about this grand idea (for the exhibit) and really get them to be behind it,” Brent Bjorkman, interim director of the museum, said.
Rosenbaum said it was Perkins who reached out to inquire if he would be interested in contributing to the permanent exhibit.
“I got this email out of the blue… and he told me a lot about (the museum) and I thought it was pretty fascinating,” Rosenbaum said. “At first I thought ‘I don’t belong there.’ I mean, this is John Wayne and Liza Minnelli’s shoes.”
He was reminded by Perkins that “Smallville” was an extremely popular show in American pop culture during it’s stint on air.
“I always think about, you know I was just an actor on that show, but then you bump into people, soldiers who were in Iraq and they say, ‘Hey, it got me through the war’…so it’s humbling,” he said. “So I thought, you know, why not? It was kind of an iconic show and it lasted 10 years, it was pretty popular, so I said how about the white Lex Luthor suit that he wears when he becomes president.”
Rosenbaum had kept one of the two white suits used on the show. It’s this suit that he will send down to go on display.
After the museum acquires the suit from Rosenbaum, it will go through a screening and cleaning process by the museum curator and her team.
Donna Parker, exhibits curator, said the donation is exciting.
“The first thing we’ll do is take it and evaluate it… and if it needed any kind of cleaning, we would clean it,” Parker said.
Following this and several other cleaning steps, the team would check to be sure no repairs need to be made to the seams of the suit and begin building a form or mannequin to display the suit.
“You either want to purchase or make a form that will fit the piece,” she said. “A lot of times what we do is take a form and pad it out… to fill the form (of the clothing).”
There is not a set date yet on when the white suit will be on display, but Parker and others on the curation team ensure it will be up once they’re able to go through normal preservation and display procedures.
By now I am sure you have all heard about Jesse Eisenberg getting the role of Lex Luthor in the new Superman vs Batman movie and if you are anything like me you are shocked and angry. Why would anyone choose Jesse, who is a very good actor but over Michael who has proven on Smallville that he can make a villian have more than one side. His portrayal of Lex amazed me and whenever I have a Smallville rewatch I am more and more amazed at how incredible Lex is on there and it is down to Michael taking a well known character and transforming him into more than just the bad guy.
Now we as a fandom need to stand up and make our presence known some of my friends have taken a stand and started a petition and made a facebook page. I ask you all to please sign it and hit the like button and spread the word throughout the fandom. We need to come together to show them the following that Michael has and how much we want to see him as Lex on the big screen.
Sign the petition HERE
Like the facebook page HERE