You may think it's too soon to start spinning Justice League theories, but you're wrong — in the world of superheroes, it's never too early to make a bold prediction based on little or no evidence which will inevitably be disproven. And anyway, it won't matter that you're wrong because the whole world will be too busy demanding an apology from Zack Snyder, or possibly a public execution.
With that in mind, here's a theory spun more out of imagination, and a few details learned during the promotion of Batman v Superman, than solid evidence, which could yet reveal itself to be true when Justice League hits theaters (feel free to discredit it in the comments if you think it's totally absurd).
One of the most popular tropes found in any movie with a supervillain is the idea of a puppetmaster or a svengali — somebody pulling the strings of the guy we think is the villain. Essentially, the "big bad" is only the medium bad, and there's a bigger bad waiting in the wings (think Bane and Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises). It's a classic switcheroo designed to lure the audience into a false sense of security.
How does this apply to Justice League? Cast your minds back to the fake interview Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor did with Fortune magazine in the lead-up to Batman v Superman. This is where we learned that the Luthor of the DCEU is in fact Lex Luthor Jr. His father, the classic nemesis of Superman, "managed to carve an empire out of oil and machinery [but] passed away unexpectedly in 2000."
Now, I know Snyder enjoys casually tossing major characters on the bonfire (like the dead photographer from Lois Lane's African rendezvous being revealed as Jimmy Olsen, for reasons entirely unknown), but it seems weird and frankly just a little off that Lex Sr. "passed away unexpectedly." Nobody in the world of superheroes just dies. Dying of an undiagnosed brain tumor might be semi-realistic, but it's also boring as hell.
I take the view that there are two options with regards to Lex Sr.'s fate, both of which offer a lot more story potential within the DCEU than the cause of death we were given by Snyder. The first: Lex Jr. killed his father. That would make sense — he is a sociopathic little shit who probably didn't have much love for his old man, and also wanted to get his hands on the family business. The second, and more exciting, option: Lex Sr. wasn't killed by his son, because Lex Sr. isn't dead.
Eisenberg's Lex has taken a lot of criticism for being, essentially, a bit crap. He feels more like an insecure tech wizard who accidentally ended up being CEO of a multi-national than an actual megalomaniac with genius level intellect. That disconnect between how the character is meant to be and how he actually appears would actually make perfect sense if Lex Sr. was waiting in the wings. It could be that he wanted to spend the best part of 20 years off-Earth, learning more about what it would take to kill Superman once and for all. It could be that Lex tried to kill his father, and the big man is biding his time, waiting to wipe both his son and his nemesis from the face of the Earth. I wouldn't be against a team-up with Darkseid in the Justice League sequel — or even with Superman (imagine!) in Man of Steel 2.
Essentially, the options are infinite: Snyder has a blank canvas on which to create a twisty, comic book-tastic version of the events that lead to Lex Jr. inheriting LexCorp. Do I actually believe any of this will happen? No, but if I can't spin a wild theory now, before we actually know anything about Justice League, when can I? The fact is that in a DCEU which needs strong villains to separate itself from the MCU, the young Lex is not really cutting it. Let's do something about that.
Justice League hits theaters November 17, 2017. Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition is out now on digital and Blu-ray.