It feels weird to explain one of the most recognizable characters in Western media but… here we are. Clark Kent is the quintessential “boy next door” – especially in Smallville and the 90s Superman drama and cartoon – but he’s most notable for being a big brickhouse of a man with a heart of gold. Clark is one of those characters who is simply just… good. He’s good and he’s sweet, and he’s a bit of an imp… but his parents sure did raise him well. I am so god damn weak for Clark in all his forms (ask me about Crime Syndicate Superman one day and I will wow and annoy you in minutes). I think Clark Kent is one of the best possible characters in superhero comics and also he’s large and sweet, almost the perfect himbo except he is… a journalist and clearly doesn’t do himbo things.
I don’t respect billionaires and I don’t think anyone should, but… I would absolutely smash Lex Luthor in multiple senses of the word. I grew up with the 90s Superman series, the cartoon where he was voiced by Clancy Brown but everyone Black thought he was also Black, and then Smallville. I was spoiled for unfortunately attractive Lex Luthors at a very formative part of my life. And Smallville is what truly kicked my thirst into overdrive. I went from “oh this man is bad but cool” to “how can i polish his scalp with fine oils” in a stunning move that can be blamed firmly on both puberty in 2001 and me getting uninterrupted and unmonitored access to the internet. Lex in Smallville was fine and flawed, a character who you rooted for up until his descent into comics-typical evil was so deep that you had no real hope of pulling him back up… I wish he was still my Lex Luthor actually…
The Ship Itself
Clark is a farmboy from Kansas with an extraterrestrial secret that’ll change the world. Lex is a billionaire menace with boundary issues and plenty of time on his hands. And, like with Treize and Wufei last time… I want them to smash (mouths and other body parts).
I could wax poetic about this ship but I think the intro to Serafina’s manifesto (linked all the way below) sums it up the best:
Clark Kent and Lex Luthor are one of those pairings that I find so obvious, it’s hard to articulate exactly why they belong together. It’s more than the fact that both Tom Welling (Clark) and Michael Rosenbaum (Lex) are beautiful, beautiful men. It’s more than the fact that they’re best friends. It’s more than the longing gazes they give each other, and the non-existent personal space when they’re in a scene together. It’s more than the fact that they try to help each other, and, when the situation is tight, go above and beyond the call of duty to help the other out. It’s more than the fact that we know they’ll wind up enemies, and that there’s a very thin line between love and hate.
It’s more than destiny. Their relationship just *is* and has been from the moment they met.
Pros/Cons of the Ship
- Do you like angst? This ship is loaded up and ready to give you the weepies.
- You can also add Lois Lane to the pairing… and they can co-parent Kon-el
- Did I mention this? Kon-el is canonically their kid (and it’s fine if you choose, like me, to consistently ignore how Kon-el was brought into this world and how shit Lex and Clark are to him in multiple iterations).
- Lex (in Smallville) has such a pink mouth. I’m sorry.
- Superpowers + extra unethical billionaire with access to kryptonite can level up your kink-in-fic
- Lex is a billionaire and that’s actually disgusting of him. Honestly it’s one of his weakest points and I feel like fighting him over it.
- There’s no way this ship gets a happy ending without at least one half of the ship being written wildly out of character.
- In Smallville, some the “best” moments of the pairing occur while Clark is in high school. Even though all the actors involved are grown ass men (Tom Welling does not make for a convincing high school freshman or sophomore at any point in the first season), shipping in the Smallville universe isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
- Why does Lex only have teenage friends for a solid early chunk of the series?
- Technically, Clark does gaslight Lex about his powers? Which is understandable but… leads to the path Lex takes in-series.
(Why) Do I Ship It?
Honestly, I can’t imagine not shipping it. I have shipped Clark/Lex from the start because the relationship is just… everything I want to consume. It’s fraught, fractured, kinda fucked up and if you write it well, it’s just one of the most compelling relationships ever put on paper. As we’ve covered, I love these characters separately. When you smush them together and make them touch mouths? It’s even more amazing.
I think that the highlight of being into Clark/Lex as a pairing is trying to get their puzzle pieces to fit together despite their respective arcs in canon. Whether you’re in the comics or rewatching Smallville, these aren’t people who have a happy ending together. You have to fight for it and then write it. For me, that’s a huge part of the appeal because it’s the struggle to stick their pieces back together (or together in the first place)… it’s just fascinating to try at match them up. When you add an external element (frenemy Bruce Wayne, former or present loves Lois or Lana, or their son Kon-el), that just amps everything up to one hundred and makes the pairing that much meatier!
The legendary Te is responsible for a lot of what I’m still into in fandom. I grew up reading Te’s works at a time when I probably should have… not been lurking on her work as I was a tadpole, but I remain grateful for her writing. She helped me understand what writing and kink could be. And so, I recommend… so much of her Clark/Lex writing but it does come with the note that Te didn’t really do warnings back then and so you should treat everything the way you would a story on AO3 marked “The Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings” and with no other tags. It’s been worth it for me over the years, but it might not be for you.
Start with The Project and then slide on to Benediction, which is thrilling and sexy and just a little bit stressful. Then there’s the workout fic Sweat which makes 2002 Lex Luthor even more lickable than he was previously.
Other formative Clark/Lex writers? Meyari.
I love Meyari as a friend and as a writer. Please please go read all the Clex Meyari gifted us with over the years. It’s all incredibly formative work and I adore her endlessly. I will say that you should mind the tags on AO3 and preemptively exclude tags you know you’re not comfortable with but I will link my favorite stories anway.
When Lionel Luthor was convicted of murdering his parents, Lex Luthor was convinced that his life was effectively over. Thirteen years old, his parents either dead or in prison, Lex expected that he would end up in foster care. Instead, Timothy Drake-Wayne stepped forward and adopted Lex into the Wayne family as his son. Before long, Lex was learning incredible things and training to become the latest Robin after Timothy’s brother Damian. His life had seemed to be over but it was just beginning.
In Smallville, Kansas, another young man with apparently everything to look forward to discovered a truth that left him convinced that his life truly was over. If Clark couldn’t find a way to keep his father’s AI from rewriting his personality and taking over his body then life might be over for everyone on Earth.
When the two of them encountered each other, it changed both of their destinies in ways they could never have anticipated.
Written to a prompt: I kinda want to go Cinderella fairytale-ish with this: During the meteor strike Clark is found by the Kents, but Lionel dies. Lex is found by Nell, who knows he is a Luthor, but conceals it (as revenge for Lionel dumping her?) and raises him as his own. Nell and Lana treat Lex like dirt etc. The Kents on the other hand, thrive and get wealthy doing something wealthy making outside of Smallville. Features Inventor!Clark and Farm boy! Lex.
Read this post at epic recs for more information on the story itself. Note that the AO3 post has “Underage” as an archive tag but I can’t remember the context so… read carefully. Or else.
Now onto other folks:
Luthor Family Values.
President Lex Luthor gets caught having an extramarital affair
Tim Wayne, adopted son of Gotham mogul and secret vigilante Bruce Wayne, shows every sign of being his father’s true successor – by day, and by night. Tim sets his sights on a valuable Metropolis lab for merger with Wayne Biotech, and all that stands in his way is the city’s own rising star: Conner Luthor.
(While a Tim/Kon focus, the Clex is strong here and I need y’all to read it.)
Similarly, this Bruce/Clark/Lex list is A+!