Lex Luthor’s bare scalp has been a key part of the character almost since his earliest appearance. He appears as a stocky red-headed man in his 1940 debut in “Action Comics” #23 (by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster), but after he was accidentally drawn bald in a comic strip in 1941, it turned into a defining trait of the villain.
In 1960’s “Adventure Comics” #271 (by Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino), DC first gave Luthor’s baldness an origin. In the comic, a young Lex, a massive fan of Superboy before he becomes Superman, captures the hero’s attention, leading him to build a lab to figure out a cure for kryptonite poisoning. However, after Luthor causes a fire, Superboy uses his super-breath to stop it from spreading, inadvertedly knocking a bottle of acid on Lex. As a result, Lex’s long brown hair falls off, and his grudge against the future Man of Steel begins.
In the post-“Crisis” era, Luthor’s baldness was explained in a much simpler manner: it was simply a result of his aging and losing his hair. In flashbacks, such as the ones in 2007’s “Countdown to Final Crisis,” a younger Luthor can be seen with red hair and a receding hairline, showing that from an early age, he started to lose his hair naturally. Yes, Luthor had hair at one point in his life, but the character’s baldness is just as important a characteristic to him as Superman having a cape. Thankfully, James Gunn is sticking with Luthor’s most iconic look for “Superman: Legacy.”