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Lex Luthor, Capitalist Villain

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In an earlier post I compared the political economy of superheroes in the DC and Marvel universes. And today I have a piece up at The Stream examining the figure of Lex Luthor, the crony capitalist villain featured in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

LexCorpAs I write in that piece, Luthor is certainly more than a crony capitalist, but he is not less than one, and it is this corruption of democratic capitalism that serves as a backdrop for his larger crimes.

I also note how there are political and economic countermeasures to such cronyism in the film, particularly as embodied in the figures of Sen. Finch and Bruce Wayne. In this way, the film can hardly be criticized as merely repeating that tired Hollywood trope of the rich, corporate industrialist villain. Apart from his heroics as Batman, Bruce Wayne is the image of corporate social responsibility.

But Sen. Finch also stands in opposition to Luthor, and it is in so doing that she forces him to reveal himself as not just an egomaniacal cronyist but also as a master criminal. The scene at the conclusion of the film when Luthor’s locks are shorn visually represent the removal of the veneer of respectability that his wealth and power had provided.

LuthorBy the conclusion of the film, the field has been set and many of the pieces are out in the open. Luthor’s endgame has yet to be revealed, however, although there are strong hints that it involves great otherworldly danger to Earth. We’ll have to wait for future installments to see what will result from Luthor’s villainy.

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Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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