- "For better or worse, you're still my mother. Things weren't always rosy, but there were some good times."
- —Lena Luthor to Lillian[src]
Dr. Lillian Luthor is a known terrorist, a former physician, and the former leader of Project Cadmus. She is the wife of the late Lionel Luthor, the mother of Lex Luthor, and the adoptive mother of Lena Luthor.
Lillian was a brilliant physician in Metropolis when she met and fell in love with billionaire Lionel Luthor. They married and around 1984, Lillian gave birth to a son, Lex. Lillian adored her son, particularly when he was revealed to have prodigious intellect. She would personally tutor Lex in many subjects, such as chess.
Despite loving her son deeply, Lillian was often very harsh with parenting Lex, particularly if he didn't measure up to her standards. For example, when Lex was seven years old and his pet dog Ignatius had to be put down, Lillian forbade her son from being present at the procedure, believing he was too sentimental. She instead forced Lex to accompany Lionel on a business trip while Ignatius was taken to the vet.
As Lex grew up, Lillian allowed his private tutors to administer corporal punishments if her son ever slipped in his studies.
Around 1993, Lillian decided to surprise her husband on one of his business trips, only to catch Lionel having an affair with his mistress, leaving her hurt and angered. In an effort to appease Lillian, Lionel agreed to send away his pregnant lover, paying her off to keep quiet about the affair.
Four years later in 1997, Lionel's mistress died so he adopted his illegitimate daughter, Lena, despite Lillian's protests. Over the years, Lillian always favored her biological son over her adoptive daughter, as she considered Lex a "genius" and Lena to not even be a "real Luthor" due to the latter's parentage. In spite of their distant relationship however, Lena would later acknowledge that Lillian did care for the former in her own way and that there were "some good times".
Over the next several years, Lionel started heavily drinking, which became a problem for his family, including Lillian. After her husband passed away and Lex inherited the family company, Lillian became a member of Luthor Corp's board.
Leader of Cadmus
After her son was sentenced to 32 consecutive life terms in prison, Lillian lost contact with Lena following Lex's trial. Infuriated by her son's imprisonment and the humiliation caused to her family by Superman, she became affiliated with and eventually took over Project Cadmus, a secret lab which studied aliens. Lillian severed the organization's ties to the government so she could use it for her personal vendetta against extraterrestrials of all kinds.
When John Corben was shot by Lena and left near-death, Lillian took him to Cadmus and, as he regained consciousness, she told him that she could kill him with one click but also make him survive, John agreed, and Lillian injected liquid Kryptonite in his veins causing his eyes to cloud over. The woman says that now it will be called "Metallo". After Metallo woke up, he was struck by his newfound power and asked the woman who she was, to which she replied: "merely a Doctor". She then introduced him to Cadmus and explained their anti-alien mission, which he hastily sympathized with. After that, she gives him the mission to kill Superman and Supergirl. Later, despite the resistance of one of her subordinates, she ordered him to be turned into into another cyborg.
Lillian supplied alien weapons to Chet Miner's gang to alarm public opinion, spreading fear and discontent over the population. The next evening Miner called the woman and told her that, as people are afraid of these weapons, he had fulfilled his part of the bargain and his next move would be to attack Lena Luthor's charity evening to make money. However, she warned him that if they attack Lena, she would not support them. After Miner was arrested, he started to tell Detective Maggie Sawyer who gave them the weapons but, suddenly, he heard Lillian's voice inside his head. Chet's ears began to bleed and he fell dead to the ground alongside the other two gang members. Afterwards, Lillian visited Lena at L-Corp, apologizing for having missed her evening. Lena asked what she could do to help her.
Capturing Mon-El and SupergirlHank Henshaw, revived as a cyborg, who was able to overcome her and imprison her in the cell next to that of Mon-El. Later Lillian revealed herself to Supergirl and threatened to kill Mon-El, if she does not deprive herself of solar energy with the help of a special device; Supergirl was forced to agree, then Lillian slapped her and took her blood before sending her back to the cells, not bothering she and Mon-El later managed to escape thanks to Jeremiah Danvers.
After having sent Hank to stole a sample of the Medusa virus from the Fortress of Solitude, Lillian began releasing it to kill all the aliens in National City. Later Lena contacted her and said she wanted to join forces with her to release the deadly virus on Earth to wipe out all alien life. However, Lena had no intention of releasing the virus; she rendered it inert via a critical ingredient, and alerted the police about her mother's crimes. Lillian only realized she'd been double-crossed when the missile carrying the virus exploded, sending only red rain falling on National City. Before she could react, the police swarmed in and arrested Lillian for attempted mass murder and other Cadmus-related crimes.
Freedom and Exodus
Lillian had her medical license revoked and her trial was impending. She received a visit from her daughter Lena, who she told she forgave her for testifying against her, though Lena told her that she wasn't buying it. Lillian then revealed that Lena was indeed a Luthor as Lionel was her father as he had an affair with her mother. She told Lena that the reason that they were always estranged was because her father didn't want her anywhere near her so she devoted her time to Lex instead. At her trial, Metallo managed to get a new Kryptonite heart which he used to free them both and draw Supergirl back and keep her from stopping them.When Lena was arrested for being a suspect in aiding in their escape, she sent Metallo to break her out of prison. Lena wasn't happy that she was broken out as it made her look guilty when she wasn't but Lillian told her that she had no where to go now. She told Lena that joining her and Cadmus was now her only option. They went to one of Lex's vaults where he had an anti-alien arsenal and that the only way to open it was with Luthor DNA, meaning Lena. Lena was angry with her as this was the real reason that they had broken her from prison but the vault was opened. Lillian was happy to see all of the things Lex had collected but was shocked to see that there was a mystery item there that Lex had completed. Supergirl arrived and Lillian had Metallo attack her though she tried to downplay her warnings that Metallo's new Kryptonite heart was unstable. However, when it seemed she was right, she and Hank Henshaw went and evacuated the bunker by a helicopter before Metallo exploded.
After having instructed Jeremiah Danvers to pretend to be rescued in order to infiltrate the D.E.O. and hand her the registration list of all the aliens living in the country, Lillian awaits him at a particular point and, after avoiding a vain attempt to capture by Supergirl and Alex Danvers, she travels with him and Henshaw in a secret facility of Cadmus from where they intended to launch their final plan.
Lillian had begun the next stage of Operation Exodus. They were rounding up all the Aliens that were registered in the country and were going to load them up into a space frigate that would jump into hyperspace and take all the aliens to a world all the way across the universe. Jeremiah told his daughter Alex that originally Lillian wanted to kill them all but he persuaded her to send them off instead. Lillian's mole that was posing as Lena's assistant warned her that her daughter was on to her so she ordered to have Lena halted. When Kara Danvers managed to post an article online that exposed their entire plan, she was forced to begin the launch early. Alex Danvers warned her that she had planted explosives all over the facility and would detonate them if she didn't halt the launch. At first, she thought Alex was bluffing until he detonated two of them. Lillian told her that she wouldn't stop it so Alex detonated them and then ran to stop the launch from the inside. Jeremiah then turned on her so she had Hank Henshaw take care of him before she fled. The plot was then foiled when Supergirl managed to keep the frigate from getting out of the atmosphere and making the hyperspace jump.
A Temporary Alliance
When Rhea led the Daxamite invasion on National City, Lillian and Henshaw temporarily allied with Supergirl's team to rescue Lena, who had been captured. Henshaw transformed the Phantom Zone projector into a teleporter, allowing him, Lillian and Supergirl to board the Daxamite ship. After rescuing Lena, Henshaw and Lillian left Kara and Mon-El behind and returned to the Fortress of Solitude. However, Supergirl had anticipated this and used a fail-safe to allow Mon-El to escape the ship. Once arriving at the Fortress, Mon-El quickly knocked Henshaw out, preventing him and Lillian from disabling the projector.
Later, Lillian found Lena at L-Corp and confronted her daughter over believing Rhea's deception. Lillian claimed she taught Lena to be a scientist, only for the latter to counter that Lillian only taught her daughter to second-guess herself, never offering support or validation. Taken aback, Lillian apologized, though Lena was skeptical. Lillian explained she truly wanted to make amends when Lena came to visit her in prison, only to end up prioritizing her vendetta over her daughter's feelings, which she admitted to doing many times in the past. Stating they needed to work together now to stop Rhea and her army, Lillian then revealed the device that Lena had seen her take from Lex's vault, with her daughter instantly recognizing the box that it was held in. Lillian explained that it was intended to be used on Kryptonians but, with Lena's help, it could be altered to be used against the Daxamites instead. Later, Winn Schott and Lena are working on the device while Lillian lofts about, giving waspish comments as the alien invasion outside worsens. Upon completion, Lillian grabs the device and activates it but, when it doesn't work, is told by Lena that she secretly gave Supergirl the remote, so that only the Kryptonian could activate it when she needs it, and then instructs Schott to inform the D.E.O. of their achievement. Thus, the three of them vigilantly stayed inside Lena's office, and standing guard over the finished contraption, until it was finally triggered by Kara. After everything is over with the Daxamites' forced retreat, it is discovered that Lillian took all the credit despite Lena and Winn being the ones to finalize the device.
Afterwards, Lillian went back into hiding.
Return and arrest
Almost a year later, after learning that Lena was poisoned by Morgan Edge, Lillian returned in National City and, in retaliation, tried to kill him in different occasion, eventually choosing to attack him with a drone during a gala he was holsting. After Supergirl arrived, Lillian converted the drone into a Lexosuit and donned it in order to personally fight the Girl of Steel, however she was eventually defeated by the superheroine, Mon-El, and Winn. Before she was sent to jail one more time, Lillian conversed with Lena and implied that she would escape sooner or later.
After Reign nearly terraformed the Earth, Lillian began to have fear to die alone and realized she needed to change so she started making amends with Lena, who began to visit her in prison and they often and play chess together. Lillian also revealed the location of every Cadmus facility to Supergirl in order to track down Mercy and Otis Graves, as well as some information that Lena gave to the DA to put behind bars Bruno Mannheim and in exchange save James Olsen. Although she realized to have been tricked by Lena, Lillian was impressed by this and admitted her defeat by knocked down her king piece on the chess board she was playing with.
Betrayed by LexAfter Lex's escape Lena visited Lillian in prison demanding to know his whereabouts, her mother scolded her by stating that she understood Lena was upset because Lex outsmarted her but being too sentimental makes her no different than Eve Teschmacher, who follows Lex around like a puppy. Lillian reminds Lena that Lex repeatedly gave her an offer to join him but she always refused and after Lena exclaimed she would never stand at Lex's (or Lillian's) side, Lillian replied that she should be afraid of how her friends would react after finding out that Lena had been working with Lex. Lena walked away in anger telling her that she was just upset that Lex deserted her, but Lillian calmly responded she would not be the deserted one.
Later that day, Lena visited Lillian again, bringing with her the blueprints of the prison she was in, that Lena, Alex and Supergirl had found at Eve's secret lab. Lillian gleefully told her this was proof that Lex would come to for her, however Lena showed her that Lex had wrote her name in red with an "x" proving that he was intending to kill her instead. Then, Lena asked over which one of her children Lillian would bet her life on, prompting Lillian to reveal her what she knew, suggesting that she visit Lex's cell at Stryker's Island Penitentiary.
Extracting the Harun-El
Some weeks later, Lena bought the prison in which Lillian was and organized her weekend exit so that she could work on a way to extract the Harun-El from Ben Lockwood, who had taken an untested version of the drug. Lena placed a baby Truth-seeker around Lillian's arm to force her to tell her only the truth and asked her if she could perform the task in less than twenty-four hours, despite admitting she could Lillian also deduced that it was actually to help Jimmy Olsen and asked her why should she do it, to which Lena answered that she had poisoned the food Lillian had eat earlier in order to gave her "the gift of focus".
Then as Lena exited the room telling she was going to confront Lockwood, Lillian suggested her to pay attention as he could be dangerous, when Lena sarcastically asked her if she was worried for her, Lillian (still bonded with the Truth-seeker) simply answered that she loved her and, after an awkward silence betwheen them, Lillian broke the tension adding that in the end Lena had gotten her to say it. Later, after the Harun-El inside James' system got unstable, Lena took him to Lillian to perform the extraction but he claimed that his strength would serve him to confront Lex and asked of being stabilized instead, to which Lillian explained that a second dose of Harun-El would do the job. To dispel Lena's suspicions, Lillian reminded her of the Truth-seeker stuck to her arm and convinced her that she was telling the truth and knew what she was doing. After stabilizing James, Lena gave Lillian the antidote and when she told her that she didn't believe she had really poisoned her, Lena suggested that she'd better drink it.
Invite to the White House
Lillian was later invited to the White House, as Lex invited her and Lena over during his time as the Secretary of Alien Affairs. Lillian tried to poison Lex's tea while he revealed his grand plan to destroy Argo and kill Superman. Even pretending to help him out with his new position in the oval office. Lex later noticed this and while Lillian worried, Lex revealed he wouldn't kill her despite this act. Both Lena and Lillian ended up escaping from Eve's clutches after Lex left to fight Supergirl.
During the Anti-Monitor Crisis, Lillian as well as everyone in the multiverse; except for the seven Paragons, were killed in an antimatter wave by the Anti-Monitor on December 10, 2019, only to be restored a month later, after the Paragons and the Spectre created a new universe.
In Earth-Prime, the remains of her family were restored, her son regained control of Luthor Corp, shared with Lena, and she never went to prison and runs the Luthor Foundation. Lex told her about the events of the Crisis but didn't restore her memories like he did with Lena, instead he lied to her, saying they were partners in the old universe.
Working with Lex
While playing chess with Lex, Lillian listens as her son tells her about how disgusted he is that he saw Lena being humble before Kara Danvers; he had caused the death of Jeremiah Danvers, but did not calculate that Lena would offer condolences. Lillian wondered why Lex was back-sliding into his addiction of hating Kryptonians when he promised her that he would stay focused on helping humanity through the defeat of Leviathan; he believed that he can do both. During the conversation, Lex reveals that he would release a sun-eater. Lillian watched as Lex left, with a checkmate. Later, Lex called her, bragging that his real life chess game was going successfully.
After Brainiac 5 shrunk the Leviathan's members and bottled them, seemingly dying in the process, Lex took the bottle from him, teleported to his lab and gave it to his mother telling her to "get to work".
Lillian is shown to be very much like her son, Lex Luthor: cold, self-righteous, unstable, manipulative, and delusional in her views. Blaming Superman for her son's imprisonment, while completely in denial of the horrific actions Lex performed of his own choices, Lillian came to develop a radically-driven disdain for aliens of all kinds; she views extraterrestrials as an affliction upon the Earth, beings who are subtly taking control of the planet by making humans worship them, and is determined to purge the world of, as she puts it, "their kind". Lillian refuses to comprehend the mere idea of benevolent aliens wanting to live peacefully on Earth and co-exist with humans.
Having proven to be quite hypocritical, Lillian is perfectly willing to kill innocent bystanders - the very people who she claims to be trying to save - by the thousands in her personal vendetta. While arrogant in her views and believing herself to be the true savior of the planet, Lillian is a very shrewd and cunning woman; able to anticipate how her enemies will act, she is always several steps ahead and can manipulate their actions.
Even outside her blind hatred of extraterrestrials, Lillian is proven to be very opinionated, distant, and shortsighted, especially with her loved ones. She was often unnecessarily hard on Lex as he grew up, nurturing her son's intellect while berating him for being too "sentimental" according to her perceptions. Lillian genuinely believed she had her son's best interests in mind, remaining oblivious to her favorite child harboring considerable venom towards her as a result of his harsh upbringing. During her entire adoption of her step-daughter, Lena Luthor, Lillian made little effort in trying to connect with Lena, not completely agreeing with her husband Lionel's decision to adopt the child and preferring to focus her time on teaching Lex. Ultimately, she at most saw Lena as merely a good learning tool for her only blood-related child. Even in Lena's adulthood, Lillian's relationship with her daughter was mostly professional, wanting to make sure Lena would keep the Luthor name in high regards.
However, Lillian's disdain for aliens greatly outweighed her strained relationship with Lena, as she is determined to "protect" her from Supergirl and the likes. To which, Lillian views have also made her narrow-minded; between her desire to eliminate all aliens and ensure the people close to her live up to her high standards, it becomes much easier to deceive and manipulate her. When Lena apparently joined forces with her to release the Medusa virus, Lillian blindly let Lena move about freely, allowing the latter to double-cross her by sabotaging the virus and leading the police to their location.
Lillian is a guileful liar, as she is not above being selfish with her adoptive daughter or even using Lena for her own ends. When Lillian revealed that her husband is Lena's biological father, she claimed that Lionel never allowed them to form a close relationship because he couldn't stand seeing his wife together with the child born of his affair. However, this was simply Lillian's bid to get Lena to lower her guard and trust her step-mother, who wanted to frame and take her step-daughter on the run to get access to Lex's technology. Lillian didn't care that her actions could damage Lena's good reputation, callously stating that no one believed in Lena anyway since in her opinion, humanity unfairly turned against Lex. In truth, Lillian has always been cold to Lena because she is a living reminder of Lionel's affair.
Lillian seemed unable to understand the concept of love regarding her enemies, only seeking to exploit it; she didn't think friendship with Supergirl meant anything, believing the Kryptonian would give up on Lena once the latter was framed. Even when Supergirl proved this wrong, Lillian still felt that Lena would hate the superheroine if she learned the latter's secret identity as Kara Danvers. Lillian even blackmailed Jeremiah Danvers into infiltrating the D.E.O. by using the trust his family and friends had in him, not expecting the fact that Jeremiah's love for them would make him double-cross her.
However, Lillian did make a genuine effort to build a relationship with Lena later on. When Lena was abducted by Rhea, Lillian resorted to teaming up with Supergirl to save her adoptive daughter, but was not above betraying the heroine once Lena was safe (though this failed). Lillian even apologized to Lena for her past actions, genuinely remorseful of her failure to be a good mother and put her daughter first. She remained confident in Lena's intellect and never told her Supergirl was Kara Danvers because she was sure Lena would figure it out one day. Lillian even encouraged Lena to reconfigure Lex's invention to rid the Earth of the Daxamites, stating that she was even more brilliant than him.
When Morgan Edge attempted to frame and kill Lena, Lillian returned to National City to kill Edge in retribution and even showed up to do so in person when her drones failed, despite Lena and Supergirl's protests in favor of doing it the legal way. When Lillian was arrested, she displayed a softer side to Lena as well as a dry sense of humor, asking to be shown the "right" way when Lena visits her in prison, provided she does so before Lillian breaks out.
During her time in prison, Lillian has apparently mellowed down, crediting the fact when Reign nearly terraformed the Earth, she did not want to die or be alone and realized she needed to change. Lillian appears to have begun making amends with Lena, as the two often play chess together, and even willingly gave Supergirl the location of every Cadmus facility to track down Mercy and Otis Graves. When Lillian realized Lena tricked her into providing information on Bruno Mannheim to save James Olsen, she was impressed by this and knocked down her king piece (symbolizing her defeat).
When Lena exposed Lillian to a Truth-seeker so that the former could ask Lillian if she'd be able to figure out how to remove Harun-El from an individual's system, Lena told her that she wouldn't ask Lillian if she loved her, believing she already knew the answer. However, while they were talking, Lillian, still under the Truth-seeker's effects, stated that she really does love Lena, even though Lena resents her. Lillian would later come to regret how horribly she misjudged Lex's devotion to her, when after Lena visited her mother in prison only to have her confidence that her darling boy was coming to free her be dashed by the revelation he'd slated her for execution instead. This came with Lena's highlighting how her mother's prison cell in the penal facilities schematic had been highlighted in bright red; indicating a kill order for which Lex was infamous for.
Showing further disgust with her vile, demented progeny later on. Who, having fallen even deeper into insanity, began quoting Hitler in his plans of exploiting aliens for a renewable energy source. Lilian's opinion of Lex sank to such lows she even went so far as to poison his tea with a highly radioactive toxin hoping it'd kill him.
Powers and abilities
- Lexosuit application: Lillian is masterful in using Lex Luthor's Lexosuit battle armor to suit her needs and protect herself against Kryptonian-level threats.
- Peak of human physical condition: As the former leader of Cadmus, Lillian is in top physical condition, able to slap Kara (who had briefly lost her powers) with enough force to make her bleed.
- Skilled combatant/Martial artist: As the former leader of Cadmus, Lillian was capable of holding her own in a fight. She managed to knock down Alex Danvers from behind while the latter was distracted.
- Skilled markswoman: As the former leader leader of Cadmus, Lillian has some skill with firearms, able to shoot Mon-El in his leg.
- Genius-level intellect/Expert scientist/Leader: As a scientist, Lillian has a genius level intellect, as she was able to create cyborgs synthesizing kryptonite as a weapon and even to reproduce the Medusa virus from a sample.
- Indomitable will: A driven and determined person, Lillian is nearly fearless and almost always calm in every situation, as evidenced by not being intimidated even when menaced by a gang of men armed with alien technology or at the time of her arrest.
- Knock out spray: Lillian used knock out spray to defend herself against Lex's men.
- Lexosuit: Lilian has once worn a high-tech battle suit designed by her son Lex, which gave her enhanced strength, durability, flight, energy blasts, and advanced weaponry, among other capabilities.
- Lillian, Alex Danvers, Maxwell Lord, Lena Luthor, and Eve Teschmacher are so far the only humans known to be able to create Kryptonite.
Behind the scenes
- In the DC comics, Lex Luthor's mother is named Arlene Luthor. In later incarnations, her name was changed to "Leticia", even though in most of her appearances, she remains unnamed.
- Lillian served as the main antagonist of the first arc of Season 2 of Supergirl.