Michael Rosenbaum, who portrayed Lex Luthor on Smallville, shares a key throwback behind-the-scenes image from the pilot. Before The CW had the Arrowverse, the WarnerMedia and Paramount-owned network had Smallville as the flagship superhero series. Starting on The WB in October 2001, Smallville told the origin story of how Clark Kent became DC Comics’ most iconic hero. Smallville’s success is what essentially made the Arrowverse possible, as The CW invested fully into the DC brand after the show’s conclusion in 2011. While not initially tied to the Arrowverse, Crisis on Infinite Earths made Smallville connected to the franchise’s larger Multiverse concept. As much as Smallville was about the rise of Superman, the DC drama was also the ultimate origin story for Lex Luthor, showing how he and Clark became the rivals that readers know from the comics. Rosenbaum, who is one of several actors to have brought Lex to life, starred for 7 seasons on Smallville. Throughout the actor’s run, the writers did a character study of Lex and how he landed on the path to villainy. Despite starting out as best friends at the beginning of Smallville, Lex and Clark did become nemeses by the end of the series.
While social media may not have existed 20 years ago when Smallville was filmed, it’s not stopping Rosenbaum from sharing a pivotal moment from his first episode. Rosenbaum recently shared on Instagram a photo that was taken of him right after he had shaved his head to complete his Lex transformation. The picture was taken on March 2, 2001, which is when the pilot, directed by David Nutter, was produced in Vancouver, Canada. The Smallville pilot, which was filmed over 20 years ago, became one of The WB’s most viewed episodes of all time. Back when DVRs didn’t exist, 8.4 million viewers tuned in for the Smallville series premiere, which was the beginning of a 10-year run for the DC drama. While Lex was integral to Smallville, seasons 8-10 went on without him after Rosenbaum finished his 7-year contract. Rosenbaum did, however, return for the Smallville two-part series finale as he fulfilled his destiny of becoming Superman’s greatest villain of all time.
Tom Welling and Erica Durance’s Clark Kent and Lois Lane appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths; there was also an attempt at bringing in Rosenbaums’s Lex. At the time, it wasn’t able to happen, as Rosenbaum declined a rushed offer by Warner Bros. Had Lex appeared, he would have shared at least one scene with Jon Cryer’s version of the character. Even though Rosenbaum couldn’t participate, fans will possibly get to see his Lex alongside Welling’s Superman once again, but in a slightly different format. While it hasn’t been picked up to series, Welling and Rosenbaum are currently developing a Smallville animated show that would serve as a sequel to the original. Should the project go forward, Smallville will bring Rosenbaum’s Lex to life again in the near future.