49 years ago - Lex Luthor is born the son of Lionel Luthor, wealthy industrialist.
42 years ago - 7-year-old Lex's father looses everything. They are forced to live in Metropolis's Suicide Slums.
39 years ago - 10-year-old Lex's mother dies, her treatment too expensive for his father to afford.
38 years ago - 11-year-old Lex stages his father's death when he realizes the insurance payout is all he will ever get from his father.
35 years ago - 14-year-old Lex uses his inheritance to pay for his early admission to MIT.
33 years ago - 16-year-old Lex graduates from MIT and uses his remaining inheritance to start LexTech.
31 years ago - 18-year-old Lex has his first marriage.
30 years ago - 19-year-old Lex has his first divorce.
28 years ago - 21-year-old Lex has his second marriage and second divorce.
27 years ago - 22-year-old Lex founds Lexcorp, incorporated in Metropolis.
25 years ago - 24-year-old Lex has his third marriage. His wife mysteriously disappear.
22 years ago - 27-year-old Lex marries the Contessa Erica Alexandre Del Portenza.
20 years ago - 29-year-old Lex separates from the Contessa Erica Alexandre Del Portenza.
19 years ago - 30-year-old Lex receives Metropolis's key to the city.
15 years ago - 34-year-old Lex dates upcoming hotshot reported Lois Lane. Lexcorp aquires Schott Toys to utalize their robotics patents, causing Winslow Schott to have a public breakdown.
14 years ago - 35-year-old Lex watches as Mercy Graves, having been caught stealing from him, beats all his bodyguards. rather than turn her in, he cleans her up and hires her as his valet & bodyguard.
13 years ago - 36-year-old Lex watches as Superman first appears in Metropolis. He is first interviewed by Clark Kent.
12 years ago - 37-year-old Lex buys most of the world's supply of Kryptonite and begins wearing his custom Kryptonite ring. Winslow Schott begins staging violent attacks against Luthor with his weaponized toys as the Toyman. He is stopped by Superman and placed in a prison for the insane.
11 years ago - 38-year-old Lex's experiments with alien biochemistry turn Rudy Jones, a Lexcorp Labs Janitor, into the Parasite.
8 years ago - 41-year-old Lex has his company striped from him by the Contessa Erica Alexandre Del Portenza. He has her discredited, imprisoned and killed.
6 years ago - 43-year-old Lex discovers that he is dying of cancer from his Kryptonite ring. He stages his death, moving his consciousness into his own clone, posing as Luthor Jr.
5 years ago - 44-year-old Lex's apparently 23-year-old clone uses Cadmus to grow a human//kryptonian hybrid clone, but it's accelerated growth is interrupted. It takes the name Superboy.
4 years ago - 45-year-old Lex's clone rapidly ages. He stages his own return, claiming Cadmus was holding him. Has Mercy Graves brought out of her coma and gives her a weaponized cybornetic arm. He rebuilds Metropolis after the attack by Doomsday, using this as the platform for his presidential campaign. He wins the election and is elected president.
3 years ago - 46-year-old Lex uses experimental technology to redirect an earthquake to hit Gotham and cuts it off from relief so that he can declare it a national disaster zone and repair it, strengthening his presidential platform. He secretly forms the Injustice Gang to battle the Watchtower, using a second team to nearly defeat them.
2 years ago - 47-year-old Lex attempts to frame Bruce Wayne for murder in retaliation for his speaking out against his response to Gotham. He hires David Cain to kill him, but Cain retreats when he is defeated by Cassandra Cain. He diverts a meteor to nearly strike the planet, framing Superman. He is exposed by Superman and Batman with the help of the global-monitering of Winslow Schott, and attacks them with his battlesuit, losing the presidency.
1 year ago - 48-year-old Lex is exonerated in court. He retakes control of Lexcorp with diminished resources. Mercy Graves rejoins him. He is invited to join Gorilla Grodd's Legion of Doom, but declines. He donates funds to the mysterious Q Society in exchange for access to certain technology pattents, causing Uno to cut ties with them.
now - 49-year-old Lex is comissioned by the government to extract data from the Brainiac nanomodules.
Lex Luthor is one of the single most recognizable villains in comics. So much so that he's actually become a bit of a cliche; even people that aren't fans of superheros (they exist, I've met them) will immediately recognize him. Most bad guys will have their stories change wildly over the years as they are redesigned to serve the characters they battle, Lex has been around and been at the forefront of the story for SO long he actually has more than one fully-formed comic identity.
Lex's Comic History
Lex was originally depicted as a classic evil scientist. They were popular characters in early serials which were very much the birthing ground of the concepts in early super-hero comics, and Lex is easily the ultimate expression of that whole concept. He continued in that vein for decades, his overall effectiveness waxing and waning with the prevailing notion of just how dangerous comic villains should be. This was the version of the character that Gene Hackman played in the Richard Donner Superman movies, and also the version of the character that started wearing green power-armor in the Challenge of the Super-Friends. He underwent a massive change in 1986 when John Byrne started the entire Superman story from scratch, and created a completely new story for Lex. Now, he was a intensely evil, corrupt businessman. This new story gave him, arguably, a far greater capacity for evil, and also explained the fact that he was constantly able to avoid the repercussions of his actions. This change had it's detractors, but it also gave us amazing stories, like Brian Azzarrellos's Lex Luthor: Man of Steel miniseries, Jeph Loeb's introduction of him running for (and winning!) the presidency, and of course the ground breaking Superman Animated Series. Writers like Loeb and Geoff Johns had done a lot of work to try to merge the two versions, and in many cases doing so actually makes the entire arc of Superman make a lot more sense.
Our Lex Luthor Story
As awesome as characters like Lex are, the important thing to remember is that they exist to serve a larger story. Lex is Superman's archnemesis, but he's much more than that. He's a cornerstone of that character's world. He's responsible for the existance of several of Superman's best villains like Parasite and Bizarro, and he has also come to his aide more than once when the city they both love is in danger. He's of course such a huge character that he's effected the rest of the DC universe at large as well; the earthquake that decimated Gotham was entirely his doing, and of course he made himself one of the greatest enemies of the Justice League when he assembled the Injustice Gang.
Of course, there are quite a few stories we've left out of our version. Most of them aren't even worth mentioning, but Perhaps the biggest change was the removal of his childhood friendship with Clark Kent in Smallville. This is a holdover from the old Superboy Comics, most of which we cut out.
Lex Luthor's Costume
The eventual innovation of giving Lex his own battle armor is almost inevitable, but the finale of the animated series probably did it best when he appeared in the final moments back in his classic Armani and quipped 'I had to get my power suit.' Lex is ultimately at his absolute best as a man who thinks he has ultimate power and who is then confronted with just how very powerless he really is.
The entire point of Superman is to present us with a unflappably good person using his unlimited power to always do the right thing. It's meant to inspire. When he was first created, his enemies were corrupt landlords and evil businessmen. The character concept NEEDS that counterpoint representing the worst of humanity. Lex has become the ultimate expression of that, but there's a strong element of human falibility in him, and ultimately of tragedy. If the future of Superman's story is to be a father, to bask in the experience of being human... It might make sense for Luthor to somehow distance himself from his humanity. We're not sure what form this might take.