Romany (romanyg) wrote,

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A Rose Is a Name Is a Rose Is a Moron: Varying Canons and Ship Wars

Apparently, I'm a moron for shipping Clark/Lex. And this blanket statement is issued by someone who doesn't watch Smallville, who has no regard for the show nor its fandom. From what I gather, she's a DCU purist with the fervor of the newly converted.

The only statement she makes regarding her distaste for Clark/Lex is her passion for Clark/Lois, as if one ship automatically negates the other, all digital, zeroes and ones. I suppose that enemy pairings aren't for everyone. There certainly is a bigger fan base for romantic and/or buddy pairings. In an ordered universe, the lion can never lie down with the lamb.

But the human psyche doesn't work that way, really. We imbue our villains with resonance, gradation, a brittle humanity. They are a reflection, the other side of the mirror, of our heroes.

And this can be found in the relationship of Superman - Clark/Lex Luthor in DCU as well.

It gets so confusing, doesn't it? The concentric canons? With Superman & Lex Luthor, we can choose between comic!verse, movie!verse, toon!verse, Lois&Clark!verse and SV!verse. Many consider DC to be the primary canon, but even that is problematic considering that the Superman (and Lex Luthor) story has been retconned several times, multiple universes created and destroyed and created again.

But the one constant in all of these verses is the existence of Superman, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. Lex is such a *primary* force and focus of Superman that he could never be dismissed as a mere villain. Their relationship is so much more complex. Lex embodies that part of humanity that rejects a savior, that questions one, that wants to undo one should one arise. He represents ambition, power, calculated greed, arrogance--and desire. Lex Luthor, in DCU, has become quite the sexual creature, whereas Superman--and therefore Clark, lived (until recently with his marriage to Lois) a life of abstinence. Not for lack of desire, but from withholding of power, protection of others. Superman is constantly aware of his own power, how he is separate from others.

Luthor is aware of that power, thwarted by it, and desirous of it. Many times, he's attempted to either conquer Superman or win him to his side almost as much as he's attempted to kill him. It's the battle, the engagement, that's important--not the outcome. In fact, when Superman is killed by someone else ("Funeral For A Friend"), Lex cannot accept it. He thinks, "Mine. Superman is mine. I should have been the one to kill him." [paraphrase] Superman, in a sense, *belongs* to him and no one else--body and soul. This is the point where Kon-El, Superboy, emerges, the amalgam of both Superman and Lex. Attempts to clone Superman, to replace him, failed so Luthor used his *own* DNA to stabilize the clone. Kon is not the clone of Superman, but the *child* of both. A child that Lex mourns when that child, too, passes much later.

So although Luthor sees Superman as adversary, he sees him as worthy--worthy of union. That union may have taken place in a clinical setting, but the sexual implication is there as well. For Lex has had sexual relations with women that most resemble Superman, including Supergirl (Matrix version), and an android called Hope (LL:MoS), with short black hair and powers resembling those of Superman. He's not only attracted to their power, but their virtue, the very thing he claims to hate about Superman. And it's the combination of power and virtue that intially attracts him to Lois Lane.

But what of Clark Kent? Lex Luthor often dismisses him as someone whom Superman is not. And yet he sees something in Clark as well. He's saved his life, granted him exclusive interviews, and several times, has *preened* in front of him. Ostensibly to show off, but why bother if he's truly dismissive? To Lex, Clark is just another person in Superman's life, someone that his enemy values, but Lex sees value beyond that. In some ways, he respects Clark's humanity, the side of Superman that he cannot see. In "Birthright", an origin story that many DCU purists don't recognize because it catered to Smallville fans, a younger Lex bonds with Clark and respects him only to have that memory erased. But Clark remembers and holds Lex responsible for the man that he's become.

And in many ways, Clark/Superman sees Lex as his responsibility. And if Superman belongs to Lex, then Luthor belongs to Superman. The belonging goes both ways. Lex represents Superman's greatest fears, not only in terms of protecting the world, but from the dark potential within himself. For if Lex is unchecked desire, Clark represents blocked desire. He has his temptations: to give up, to let go, to rise above. He has the potential to be the alien force that Lex, in several smear campaigns, tries to paint him as. And in some ways, Lex himself is the temptation. They *are* a match for one another. Superman's life would be much easier if he landed that final blow, did away with him. But he can't because Lex, just as much as anyone else, represents humanity, the humanity that he loves. And it would be possible to give into that other temptation, the spoken offers as well as the unspoken ones.

But the heroism of Superman is such that he always places the greater good before his own. And all the temptations that Luthor might throw his way, to prove himself less, not enough, or to prove himself something else entirely, will *always* be denied.

Or, at least, he hopes. And that's all either of them can do.
Tags: sv/dcu meta
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