Lionel Luthor was the late billionaire founder and CEO of Luthor Corp. Lionel was also the husband of Lillian Luthor as well as the father of Lex Luthor and Lena Luthor. After he passed away, his son inherited the family company.
Lionel Luthor founded and administrated the multibillion-dollar corporation known as Luthor Corp in Metropolis. At some point in his life, he married Lillian, a brilliant physician, and around 1984, the two had a son, Lex. A renowned and worldly man, Lionel traveled a lot during his life and befriended many famous personalities and world authorities, even receiving a prized fountain pen as a gift from the King of Jordan.
Sometime after Lex's birth, Lionel started having an affair with an unnamed woman. When Lex was 7 years old, his dog Ignatius fell ill and had to be put down, however, feeling that he was too sentimental, Lillian forbidden the child to be present at the procedure, forcing him to go on a business trip with Lionel instead. There, they were accompanied by Lionel's lover and he gave her all of his attention. At first, Lex swore to himself that he would loathe the woman for taking his father from him when he needed him the most, but couldn't keep his promise because of how kind she was to him.
Around 1993, Lillian found out about Lionel's affair when she surprised him with his mistress on a business trip. Wanting to rebuild things with his wife, Lionel decided to send his lover away after they paid her to keep the affair a secret.
Bringing Lena home
Four years later, in 1997, Lionel discovered his lover had died and decided to adopt his illegitimate daughter, Lena, not wanting her to be placed in foster care. Despite Lillian's protests, Lionel brought the little girl to the Luthor Mansion, where she was introduced to her half-brother, Lex. Although clearly upset about this, Lillian went along with it, to which Lionel thanked her. He then proudly watched as Lena and Lex played chess together.
Over the next years, Lena was left in the dark of the truth of her parentage and convinced that she was simply adopted. Lionel was said to have loved his daughter deeply, always favoring her over Lex, and Lena thought of him as "a saint". Lillian claimed that Lionel prevented her from ever forming a close relationship with Lena because he felt guilty seeing his beloved wife together with the child born of his affair. However, this is more likely a lie since Lillian actually kept her distance from Lena due to the latter's parentage.
According to Lex, he has grown to hate his father, not because he betrayed the Luthor family, but because he stayed with them and started heavily drinking. Lionel's drinking became a problem for his family, as Lena thought it was something Lex would want to bound with her over. On one occasion, in order to please Lex, Lena stole Lionel's prized fountain pen while he was drunk and, to escape Lionel's wrath, they hid on their tree house, were Lex comforted Lena, telling her that their father could not climb when he was drunk and that one day he would have build a house on the Alps for her in order to keep her safe.
Lionel later passed away from unknown causes.
Years after Lionel's death, Lex Luthor succeeded his father as the CEO of Luthor Corp, however, Lex fell from grace after he went insane and killed many innocent individuals in his war against Superman. Once Lex was incarcerated, Lionel's daughter, Lena Luthor, took over the company and renamed it to L-Corp, hoping to take it in a new, positive direction.
Although Lionel was an unfaithful husband and cheated on his wife Lillian with an unnamed woman sometime after their son, Lex Luthor was born, resulting in the birth of his second child and only daughter, Lena Luthor, according to the latter he was a good man; implying that Lionel was kind, caring, selfless, moral and honorable, the opposite of his wife and son, despite the fact that he never revealed to Lena that he was her biological father (prior to his death) Lionel was always loving towards her and treated her warmly, unlike Lillian who was always cold to Lena because she is a reminder of Lionel's affair. However it's strongly suggested that he had a difficult relationship with his son, Lex and always favored Lena over him.
Lillian claimed Lionel deeply loved her and throughout his life, felt extremely guilty for having cheated on her, as a result, he was the one who prevented his wife from ever forming a close relationship with Lena, as Lionel couldn't stand seeing Lillian together with the child born of his affair. However, this is more likely a lie created by Lillian.
Lionel had also developed a drinking problem, to the point that it negatively affected Lex's life, making him greatly resentful of his father.
- In stark contrast to all the other adaptations of the character where Lionel Luthor has a full set of long hair, he is shown to be bald just like his son in the show. This implies that Lex's baldness is an inherited trait and not caused by an accident as generally represented.
- Lionel being an alcoholic is a reference from the DC comics, where in all of his incarnations, except his first appearance and Flashpoint, he is a drunk Kansas farmer abusive toward his children.
Behind the scenes
- In the DC comics, Lex Luthor's father is named Jules Luthor. He debuted in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #23 (February, 1961) and was created by Jerry Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger. In later incarnations he usually remains unnamed.
- The character was first given the name "Lionel" on the TV show, Smallville, on which he is played by John Glover. Due to the popularity of this portrayal of the character he was given the name "Lionel" in the comics too.