The impending launch of his company’s revolutionary new operating system Lex/OS (I got my hands on the beta and, yeah, it’s awesome) seemed like the perfect moment to sit down with the dynamic and, at times, controversial, young genius behind the LexCorp magic to see what else he’s got up his sleeve.
THE ELEVATOR DOORS open and I step into the opulent Royal Penthouse Suite at the Park Metropolis Downtown. Eleven lavish bedrooms, each with its own floor-to-ceiling Italian marble bath, a 100-seat cinema/lecture hall, a four-lane bowling alley (two standard American, one duckpin, one Belgian feather), twin helipads and its own private Caffè Bene. In other words: exactly what you’d expect for $95,000 a night.
Of course, no one’s actually staying here. This is just the space he’s rented for my fifteen-minutes-but-more-like-ten, no-holds-barred-except-several interview.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think billionaire tech wunderkind Lex Luthor was trying to intimidate me.
RON TROUPE: Nice digs.
LEX LUTHOR: We’re not doing that.
RON TROUPE: Doing what?
LEX LUTHOR: We’re not opening with a wide-eyed layman’s description of the hotel room that makes me look unrelatable just to set up a dramatic twist wherein, lo and behold, you discover I’m surprisingly down-to-earth because I know the score of the last Metros game.
RON TROUPE: Do you?
LEX LUTHOR: Metros 102, Guardsmen 86.
RON TROUPE: Weird. (it’s the correct “relatable” small talk, but coming out of him, it sounds less like a basketball score than a set of algebraic integers.)
LEX LUTHOR: Which is why we’re not doing it.
RON TROUPE: Would you say you’re a man who’s always gotten what he wants?
LEX LUTHOR: Nice pivot. Here’s mine: What I want is to leave the planet in better shape for the next generation. To make the world and its children safer. I want it. And I bet you do too, Ron.
RON TROUPE: You sound like someone running for political office.
LEX LUTHOR: If that matches their rhetoric, then maybe I should pay more attention to the candidates; I might want to back a few of them. The world is changing faster than we anticipated; we’ve all seen it. More than ever, we need leaders who not only comprehend the new threats facing us, but who will seriously and thoughtfully address them.
RON TROUPE: You’ve been very vocal about that. About the new superhuman threat.
LEX LUTHOR: Well I don’t know where you got that term. I think to be a super human, one should begin by being, you know, from this planet.
RON TROUPE: Bad choice of words?
LEX LUTHOR: We should all be careful when we elevate anyone, human or alien, to “super” status.
RON TROUPE: Because we’re all equal.
LEX LUTHOR: Well that’s just absurd. No – I’m saying we need to be selective and elevate the right people. The right human people.
RON TROUPE: And what are your thoughts on the Batman? He’s human. Presumably.
LEX LUTHOR: Well, he is. In fact, I’d say he’s all too human. Any objective analyst will tell you that his brand of justice, vigilantism, is painfully outmoded, designed to be effective in an age when the law carried billy clubs because crime carried knives. The most dangerous guy on the street worked in the shadows because he was cowardly and superstitious. That’s all you needed to play upon in order to disrupt their operations. You want to clean up the streets? Dress up like the boogeyman, switch on a fog machine and lower your voice.
RON TROUPE: When you put it that way, it sounds ridiculous.
LEX LUTHOR: It didn’t when the Batman first appeared, but that was a long time ago. This is a new world, Ron, and it’s time to get serious.
LEX LUTHOR: Look at it from the other side: today, there are more criminals than ever. If you’re a criminal, that means more competition. So if you’re going to survive in that economy, you have to be better; you have to edge out your rivals. Shouldn’t the same be true for those on the side of the law? If justice is going to survive in the new global paradigm, we have to get better, invest in new disruptive technologies, think outside Pandora’s Box. Who has the resources to do it? The government? No; the only thing holding that old purse together is a thick layer of impenetrable red tape. Vigilantes like the Batman? Not unless they have access to vast amounts of untold riches.
RON TROUPE: Like you.
LEX LUTHOR: I’m not a vigilante.
RON TROUPE: Maybe not in the traditional sense. But you are investing a good deal of your personal wealth in the area of defense and specifically the kinds of disruptive technologies you just referenced, even as you’ve been turned down time and again for the kinds of government contracts that would make those investments profitable. One man working outside the government to clean up the streets? Sure sounds like—
LEX LUTHOR: I’m going to stop you because your facts are as wrong as your characterization. If you want to understand me, understand this: I’m a businessman with long-term global investments; I would be in breach of my fiduciary responsibility if I didn’t work to protect the planet. I’m not just counting on humanity, I’m betting on it.
RON TROUPE: Let’s go back. You mentioned the government. What role do they play in your “new global paradigm”?
LEX LUTHOR: Last week, I would have given you a totally different answer.
RON TROUPE: What changed?
LEX LUTHOR: Let’s just say I ran into a wall. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here. Suffice it to say the dangers we’ve been talking about are very real. And they’re not just limited to a couple of alien brawlers able to level tall buildings in a single bout. I’m ready to sit down with whatever task force the government has assembled — in the interest of sharing intelligence and building solutions together. If she… they… Argus… the government, whatever you want to call it, has a real interest in fighting for the future, they ought to work with those of us who are already on the front lines.
RON TROUPE: I’m sorry, can we— what is Argus?
LEX LUTHOR: What. Is. Argus. Spelled A.R.G.U.S.
(At first I think he’s asking me; then Luthor’s assistant hands him a phone and he reads off search results.)
LEX LUTHOR: The name of five different warships – all sunken or broken up; a pheasant-like peafowl hunted for sport; an automobile that went extinct; Greek mythology’s favorite faithful mutt… LEX/OS lists seventeen hundred entries. I’d go on, but they’re all pretty much the same.
RON TROUPE: That was fast.
LEX LUTHOR: Point zero seven seconds. But we can save all that for the launch announcement; I don’t want to obscure my point: The new threats facing us are real. And they’re growing. It’s past time for a radical rethink of our rusted-out lines of defense. If I have a philosophy here, it’s this: You don’t solve a multiplication problem with division. Unite, or die. The public and the private sectors have to work together to create the next generation of defense technologies necessary to literally save the world. This is the future, and lone gunmen and caped crusaders aren’t worth the ink it takes to print their name in a footnote.
RON TROUPE: Do you think that’s what your father would say?
LEX LUTHOR: My father would say that offense wins games. But he’s dead and I say you’re only as good as your defense.
RON TROUPE: This all sounds suspiciously like a manifesto.
LEX LUTHOR: Ron. Guys with manifestos don’t bring bowling shoes to interviews. Do you roll? Come on. Right now. I will destroy you.
RON TROUPE lives in Metropolis with his fiancée Lucy under a dangerously tall stack of fast food wrappers and old LexCorp business filings.
This story was produced by the WIRED Brand Lab in collaboration with Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
The previous story is 100% fictitious and was featured in the DCEU, DC Comics’ movie universe. It was originally published by Forbes. It was intended to be an in-universe promotional piece for the 2016 blockbuster “Batman v Superman.”