Jon Cryer Decided to Play Lex Luthor to Correct the Mistakes of the Past

Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor.
Image: CW

Specifically, for Superman IV. Oh, Superman IV.

When Jon Cryer was cast as Lex Luthor in the CW’s Supergirl, everyone with a deep well of Superman knowledge had the same question: Wait, you mean Lenny Luthor? Cryer played the comic relief nephew of Lex Luthor in the, uh, not great Superman IV: A Quest For Peace, a film whose failure pretty much killed superhero movies for a solid decade or so. The next question, however, is: how in on the joke is Cryer himself? How does he feel about his time as Lenny, and is that why he took the role as Lex?

Turns out: Yep.

“Part of the reason I did Superman IV was because [Superman] changed my life,” Cryer said at a screening of an upcoming Supergirl episode, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I was like 14-years-old and [Superman‘s] tagline was, ‘You will believe a man can fly,’ and boy, I bought it! I totally bought it. Superman IV had really high hopes, but unfortunately, it was very disappointing for people and that had always sort of hurt me in a very 14-year-old boy way. And so I thought, you know, this is my chance to do it right.”

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And this experience has, for Cryer, at least, worked out a good deal better than Superman IV. “I had a certain amount of familiarity,” he said about the show. “I was very excited about working with Katie McGrath and I love the whole story that they’ve set up for this season. Yeah, I felt like Lenny [was] a branch on the family tree that fell off pretty early and was rotting on the ground basically for a long while…So I feel like this was my chance to sort of reclaim it and do it a little more justice, or injustice, as it were.”

Poor Lenny, gone too soon. But at least he paved the way for a pretty neat take on Lex Luthor. If you want to check him out yourself, you can watch Supergirl at 8pm on Sundays on the CW. 

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About the author

Julie Muncy

io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.