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lexalot in ship_manifesto

Bruce/Lex (DC/Smallville)

Title: Parallel/Paradox
Author: Lexalot
Spoilers: All Seasons
Email: lexalot@livejournal.com

Parallel/Paradox:
The Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor Story

By: Lexalot

A story is precisely what the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor is. There can be no alternate universe for a Smallville where Bruce Wayne comes to the infamous little Kansas town, because the moment he enters the picture, it is a turn right off the page that is the Smallville Universe. The reason for this is possibly the most intriguing thing about Bruce and Lex, because by all indications, or rather the lack thereof, there is no Bruce. That is not a cryptic statement meant in philosophical rhetoric or an abstract concept adapted from a Matrix line, but a literal truth. For a ship that has amassed a sizable following within the Smallville fandom, it is half based on a character who has yet to be referenced or acknowledged on the show in any way.

The Best Thing That Never Happened

Perhaps the greatest Smallville slash pairing to be born completely independent of the show's canon is Bruce/Lex. Similarly, Bruce Wayne would have to be the most popular guest star to never appear on the show. Smallville creators and producers, Al Gough and Miles Millar, have mentioned their hopes of having Bruce Wayne as a cameo on the series since the first season wrapped, talking of their dream that Bruce was Lex's boarding school classmate. They further mentioned that the Batman movie (then in the early stages of pre-production) could tangle them in red tape and prevent such a cameo. It seemed there would be only one contemporary screen portrayal of the character allowed, and as the Batman movie evolved to fruition, the cameo appearance of Lex's young acquaintance became almost mythical in lieu of the canonical.

The talk of a guest appearance for DC's other flagship superhero inspired an enthusiastic following to adopt Bruce into the Smallville Universe, and when his character fell into Smallville limbo, many fans lent him a home in their fan fiction, giving him a kind of honorary Smallville crossover status. Another point worth noting about his pseudo-casting is that at the time, Bruce Wayne did not have a face to go with his name. The most recent actors to play the part were either undesirable in the role or did not mix with the fresh blood that was bringing comic superheroes to a new generation of audiences with more youthful and modernized visions. That makes for another interesting twist as it gives Bruce the unique distinction of being a favored character who not only never appeared on the show but was also never assigned an official person for his depiction. It was not until this year when Christian Bale was cast as Bruce Wayne in the aforementioned new Batman movie, now titled Batman Begins, that fans had a fitting actor to associate with the character. Subsequently, Bale became the unofficial Bruce Wayne of the Smallville fandom.

Bruce's absence from the show leaves the specific dynamics of any relationship he would have with Lex up to the imagination. Since the nature of their association and details of their history are left open, these things change from story to story, based on fannish interpretation. This unique trait of Brex fan fiction affords its writers a great deal of flexibility in their preferences as to character motivations, and it affords its readers a great deal of variety in their options as to character interaction. With the nuances of the Bruce/Lex relationship in the Smallville universe so undefined, their dynamics are based not on pre-existing chemistry and tension but established definition of their individual characters and the perceived potential for that chemistry and tension when brought together.

The preferred background for Bruce's fanon leap into Smallville has its logical foundation in a single episode of the series. In "Redux", a second season storyline where Lex's former dean turns up as Clark's new principal, Excelsior Preparatory School was introduced into canon as Lex's boarding school. The upscale prep school was the perfect venue for a young Lex Luthor to meet and befriend a young Bruce Wayne, especially since this was clearly a possibility and most probably the intention of Gough and Miles. Insinuations are made in "Redux" and throughout the series suggesting that Lex was at the height of his teenage angst and rebellion during his stay at Excelsior. The allure begins with the premise that nothing speaks to such a troubled youth as Smallville's Lex Luthor like a kindred spirit.

Like Speaks to Like

As teenagers, Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor could have gravitated to one another for any number of reasons. Speaking in terms of slash, there is plenty of fuel to feed their attraction. Lex is suave and sly but his baldness and infamous father have alienated him via a reputation for being a freak, a brat, or both. His unique appearance has its advantages. For instance, it would make him stand out from the ordinary and uniform personalities to which Bruce would be utterly indifferent. To Bruce, Lex would seem his emotional equivalent; the physical expression of a way Bruce views himself. Lex would look the way Bruce feels. Conversely, by all outward appearances, Bruce would seem the way Lex wants to feel. Bruce's devastatingly good looks and his talent for using those charms are what earned him his reputation as a playboy, and Lex could become enamored with him as anyone else would be, but Bruce would strike a few extra chords of endearment with Lex, leading directly to Lex's heart.

On the surface, it would appear that Bruce Wayne has the ideal life, one that anybody would covet, especially a teenage malcontent like Lex Luthor. Once that illusion is peeled back, however, as soon as Lex were to get behind that painted exterior, it would show that Bruce is just as discontent as Lex with as many psychological scars and issues, if not more. Lex would discover that Bruce is much more of a riddle than a cliche. Bruce's quiet mystique is a large part of his allure, and as illustrated by Lex's obsession with Clark on Smallville, there is nothing more irresistible to Lex Luthor than a mystery, and Bruce Wayne is not only a total enigma, but he could qualify as the ultimate match for Lex. Their lifestyles are not dissimilar as they come from common backgrounds of inherited wealth built on corporate empires. Not only is Bruce Lex's social equal, but he is Lex's intellectual equal as well. As much as Bruce complements Lex, Bruce also challenges him. This is part of the infinite appeal of their dynamic. For every inch of one another that they parallel, there is an inch where they run askew. For every instant of their attraction, there is one where they repel.

At the same time that Bruce and Lex could understand each other better than anyone else, in many important ways, they would understand each other the least. While they are so very similar, they are also incredibly and irreconcilably different. Both of them tragically lost two beloved family members at young ages. Bruce witnessed the murder of his parents as they were shot by a thug in Gotham's Crime Alley, after which he was never the same. Lex witnessed the smothering of his baby brother Julian by his mother's hand and later came the devastating blow of his mother's death. Then, as Bruce grew up with a supportive father figure who consoled and encouraged him, Lex was raised by a tyrannical father who has constantly subjected him to many forms of mental abuse. This is evidenced in several episodes of Smallville such as "Asylum" and "Memoria", proving that Lionel Luthor has never given his son the support or care for which Lex has always starved. Despite Lex's want of family, it seems he will always lack what he requires to be complete, and since he has been alienated his whole life, he will desperately seek love. Due to Bruce's particular lack of family, he does not strive to gain or find love, and subsequently, he lives in self-imposed isolation with the knowledge that he will forever be incomplete. Lex rejects his ominous destiny and rages against the demons that plague him while Bruce accepts that he is fated to serve the ghosts that haunt him. For every way they compare, they contrast just as remarkably.

Darkness Calls

The greatest similarity and conversely the greatest difference between Bruce and Lex is the darkness inside them. In the comics and movies, Bruce's dark side often takes him to the proverbial place where angels (and other superheroes) fear to tread. Bruce sometimes goes so far with his alter ego that his psychological stability comes into question. When the line blurs, it seems that he belongs in Arkham Asylum with those he puts there. In the history of Batman, Bruce has been forced to see a psychiatrist on several occasions. On Smallville, Lex's dark side often emerges in more accidental and incidental forms. In "Insurgence", Lex inadvertently invites trouble through underhanded means as he sinks to his father's level of corporate sabotage. In "Dichotic", Lex loses his temper when he gets a parking ticket and he is forced to attend anger management classes. Then, in "Shattered", we learn of a psychotic break from reality that Lex suffered while at Excelsior. On the show, Lex has also been in psychotherapy and once was committed to Belle Reve, a psychiatric institution. Bruce and Lex's dark sides are always just beneath the surface, ready to emerge, and their sanity skates a razor thin line from which they can quickly deviate.

Any balance they have lies within their imbalance. As a pair, they level and upset one another in a single measure. The balance inside them is delicate, easily lost, and inherently unstable. This makes any possible intimate dynamic between them twice as volatile. They have to struggle to maintain their own equilibrium. For all the reasons of their similarities, it is much less plausible that they would ever truly be happy, especially together. They are both doomed to suffer insufferable existences. The damage that condemnation does to them individually would take a severe toll on their abilities to function independently and to carry on healthy relationships with other people. Essentially, their darkness can be considered their greatest weakness. Therein, they each have the classic tragic flaw of any hero who has the potential to lose their way; they have the ability to cause their own downfall. The faults they have in common can easily become their undoing.

Bruce and Lex are both capable of destroying themselves. Working within the timeframe of Smallville, they are equally at odds with their self-destructive natures. Following DC canon into the future, however, Bruce's self-destruction will remain internalized whereas Lex's perpetual destructive tendencies will eventually go external. Lex will become the enemy of the world's greatest hero. Bruce will become the hero barely distinguishable from his enemies. Though their shared worlds of darkness would most likely be what unites them, the forked paths they follow through the terrible dark would inevitably be what divides them. They are a pair made to be torn apart by the very things that brought them together.

The Road to Brex

The most common unions in Smallville and DC fandoms are Clark Kent and Lex Luthor (Clex) and Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson (Brick). Since this means that Lex and Bruce are separate halves of the two DC slash power couples, it actually makes for another thing they have in common that connects them and simultaneously puts them at odds. They each seem to have a better half in their other pairings, a light to balance their dark, but the distinctive and profound kinship they would have with each other is unmatched as it is unlike any connection either of them could have with any other partner.

The first pairing I ever read or wrote in online fandom was Clark/Lex, but I was very soon seduced by the power of the Bruce/Lex dynamic and began to ship them rather quickly. Some people have trouble envisioning Bruce Wayne in any type of relationship, much less one where emotion is involved because he is so solitary and detached. In the early beginnings of my encounter with Smallville fandom, I felt strange about slashing Bruce for this reason. As I thought about it and read more fic, it became apparent to me that Lex searching for love in Bruce, a man who needs no one and puts his heroic duties above all else, is a classic heartbreaking scenario. Then, over time, it began to make more sense to me. When it came to Bruce allowing someone into his life, I realized that on any previous occasion that he has done so (Dick Grayson and Selina Kyle, for example), it was because he shared a common bond with them. This was an important key to unlocking pieces of the Brex puzzle. Thus, you have the foundation for an engaging tempestuous relationship.

Simply stated, I love Bruce/Lex for all of its depth. I love how Brex juxtaposes portraits of tragic humanity. I love how Brex is a yin and a yang of the same color, which is invariably gray. I love everything about it. I love many kinds of Brex stories and scenarios, and that is part of the fun in being a Brex shipper for me. I have been enchanted with them because of the things that I have discussed here as well as so much more I cannot begin to cover or articulate, at least not intelligently. I enjoy experimenting with their chemistry in as many ways as possible. The dynamics that drive their relationship are unrestricted and can be whatever one desires, whether its business or pleasure, sex or love, unrequited or mutual, wild-child or hurt-comfort, or any other slash concept. As with any pairing, it only depends on you and your perception of the characters which road you take. A wonder of the Brex is that it can cater to practically any preference, and there are plenty of paths to explore that exploit their parallel and paradoxical sides.

My favorite personal forays into writing Bruce and Lex were a pastfic series and a futurefic series (all parts can be found on my Fiction Master List). The Excelsior Series was written as my vision of Bruce and Lex in boarding school together, and its finale covers the events described in the Smallville episode, "Shattered". The Heaven and Hell Series was written before Excelsior as my vision of Bruce and Lex in adulthood as their relationship evolves, growing more unsteady as they mature into their own dark corners.

My most highly recommended fanfic centered around Bruce and Lex's slash relationship is goth_clark's Business Proposition, the first installment in the Smallville-based Possession Series with crossover guest star Bruce Wayne, taking place before Smallville. The second installment, I Am Yours, adds Clark Kent into the picture and demonstrates how intense and wonderfully complex things can be when the Brex relationship affects and coincides with other ships in the Smallville or DC Universe. Other fics I would suggest from my early reading that helped add the taste for Brex to my slash palate are these two delicious stories, the first one playing off my favorite slash triangle, Clark/Lex/Bruce, and the second delivering straight and steamy Bruce/Lex; AlexisBroken's The Other and debc's Lost in Dark Passages.

Most notably, there is one fan vid that is a truly amazing feat, and it is the definitive look at the intricacies of a Brex relationship. If pictures are worth a thousand words, then I would have to say the most compelling case for Bruce/Lex is made in mkitty3's vid, Something I Can Never Have, set to the song by Nine Inch Nails. It is a recent gem and has grown quite popular due to its beautifully composed imagery and story-telling. It is as engrossing as it is convincing, and it wonderfully illustrates a ship that is at present a tapestry of canon and fanon.

The slash combination of Bruce and Lex is an angst-ridden formula for disaster. However, while they are not built for a fairytale ending, their pairing is unique enough in its mixture of sames and opposites that it is not necessarily built for a dead-end rift either. With a majority of slashers pairing Lex with Clark and Bruce with Dick, Bruce/Lex not only makes the Clex-Brick world more complicated and interesting, but also provides a plausible and multifaceted alternative to the traditional duos. The beauty of their pairing lies in a paradox like so much else about them; in more ways than one, we can have our cake and eat it too.

Comments

*applauds and tackles you*

This was wonderful, sweetie. Beautiful insight into why they work and why it would be volatile and passionate and hot and just...gah.

*loves you*

Thank you, Spren babe! Both for your lovely compliments and for recruiting me to write a Bruce ship essay for this project! I'm very happy I could be a part of it and contribute!
That was a really wonderful essay on why to 'ship the Bruce/Lex pairing. When it comes to Bruce I tend to like the Bruce/Clark pairing a little more, but I can see where it could come into play in the SV verse.

I really applaud your essay. Well thought out and explained. I loved it.
Thank you so much for your lovely compliments, Clio!
I'm very glad you enjoyed the essay, hon! I really appreciate that you think I did a good job on it!
I do enjoy Bruce/Clark too! I've never been a one OTP type of fangirl :}
I wouldn't have thought about the two of them. But, your essay has certainly made them work sweetly together.
Thank you so much, Wynterhawk!
I'm glad that even though you never would have thought of them as a pairing, you think this essay shows how they would work well :)
That's a great compliment, and I appreciate it!
I love how Brex juxtaposes portraits of tragic humanity. I love how Brex is a yin and a yang of the same color, which is invariably gray.

yes and yes and yes! While Clex is first for me Brex is always on it's heels. Very good essay.
Thank you, Annexia hon! :)
Clex is first for me too, but Brex is very close behind, tied for #2 OTP :)
I'm glad you liked the essay, babe!
Wow. Absolutely wonderful essay, Lexalot! Your exploration of the Bruce/Lex dynamic is so insightful and thorough; I love how you take into consideration DC canon and the behind-the-scenes details. The fanon of an SV Bruce is one of my favourite things about the fandom, and you've really done it justice. Even though I'm more of a Clark/Bruce and Clark/Lex 'shipper than a Bruce/Lex 'shipper, I can totally see how the latter pairing has a flavour all its own, with nuances that add to every other DC slash pairing. Besides, I like them as a threesome ;)

I've always thought Bruce and Lex were so much alike, and that was why I found the two of them being paired with Clark so fascinating -- but I love your points about how the very different ways in which Bruce and Lex are dark also create a fascinating tension and might be why their relationship would never have a happily-ever-after.

FYI, you have a small typo in your third paragraph: Another point worth nothing about his pseudo-casting. Not that it's a big deal, but just thought I would point it out. Your essay is so brilliant that I barely noticed it!
Thank you so much for your wonderful compliments, Scrollgirl!
I'm thrilled to hear that everything I covered and said worked so well for you and that you found this to be a good exploration of their dynamic!
I like them as a threesome myself, for just the reason that they all work so well in a love triangle. Also, I often hear people say they think Bruce and Lex are too similar, but I wanted to show why I don't think they are very much alike, even though they do have a lot in common. I'm glad you found my points about that relevant.
I really appreciate all of your feedback, hon, and I'm very happy that you enjoyed the essay!

P.S. Thanks for pointing out that typo. I read and reread it and a few people read it before I posted and it never caught anyone's eye. I've made the correction :)
That's a stunning piece of work, hon. *hugs you* I have a slight weakness for Brex and you hit every point that keeps me coming back for more. *grins*

Rai
Thank you so much, Rai babe! I'm glad that I hit on all the things you enjoy about the Brex because there is so much more I could have said and I was afraid I'd be leaving out a good majority of things.
It's wonderful. And thank you for recommending my stories. You are sweet.

Very much my second favorite slash pairing right behind Clark/Lex. *hugs*
Thank you, GG sweetie!
I'm happy you enjoyed and I'm more than happy to recommend your stories because I just love them!!

They are my #2 OTP--tied with Brick--right behind the Clex too :)
I'm like a delinquent school kid behind on her reading, but even though this is late...

For every inch of one another that they parallel, there is an inch where they run askew. For every instant of their attraction, there is one where they repel.

You've captured the essence of Bruce/Lex, right there. This was insightful and beautifully written. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
*HUGS*
Thank you very much, itsuki babe!
I'm happy you thought this worked so well for you as an exploration of the Bruce/Lex relationship :)
*hugs back*

P.S. As far as I'm concerned, it's never too late to comment on a post--at least I know I feel that way about when people comment on mine :)
Great essay, thanks.
Thank you, Naomi sweetie.

P.S. That is a beautiful icon.

Brex

Hey. I just started a Brex community, over at www.livejournal.com/community/brexfic, and I thought I'd check the manifesto for any essays. Glad I found yours. I feel the same way, that Bruce and Lex share so much, and they can take what they need from each other, but I really can't see them as a real couple outside of their teenage years. I'd like to rec this essay in the community, but if you want to join and link to it yourself, go right ahead. I really like your Excelsior series, btw, I rec it on my Smallville site. Enderwiggin24 just posted links to your manips, too, they're really nice. And gotta love Christian Bale. :)

Re: Brex

Aww! Thank you so much, Quiet Tiger! I don't mind if you rec it, and I'm very touched that you'd like to rec it at your new Brex comm! I will definitely check out the comm when I get a chance--I just got back from holiday so I have a lot to do before I can catch up properly. And thank you for your rec and compliment on Excelsior, hon--it means a lot :)

brex

I didn't even know there was an essay on this pairing, but this is awesome - it's true that Bruce fits really well into Smallville canon even though he's never mentioned. *g* It certainly inspired me to write a hell of a lot of Bruce/Lex. *g* He's always popping up, even in my Clex fics.

Found my way here from quiet__tiger and the brexfic community, of course. Thanks again for this insight into a great pairing.

Re: brex

Thank you so much for all your kind compliments on this essay, Lacey babe! It was my first meta essay, and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to write it.

I definitely agree that Bruce fits extremely well into SV canon, especially for a character who had yet to be referenced in any way on the show. He always pops up in my SV fics too :)

I'm glad you found this essay and I really appreciate your encouragement, hon :)

brex (again)

was speeding head on to your fic masterlist to swallow as much Brex as I can but... apparently there's something wrong with the stories you put in smallville.slashdom.com? I can't seem to access those... a real pity since I this essay is well done, and I'm craving Brex now =P

dyou put your fics anywhere else?

Re: brex (again)

Thank you, takarai_karin!! I did not realize that almost all my links are outdated because the external host seems to have changed or taken a lot of pages down. I really appreciate you calling this to my attention!
I have updated the links to the Brex stories, and right now I am finishing updating all the rest as well.
You can go here to my fiction masterlist to check out the stories

http://lexalot.livejournal.com/54050.html

Please let me know if you notice any further problems!
Thank you again :)
Very good analysis of this pairing! I, too, always felt that Lex and Bruce, while similar, had differences enough to keep things interesting. And I always ship Bruce with Dick if he isn't with Clark or Lex in the SV 'verse. ;)
Thank you very much for all of your kind compliment, bradygirl! I totally agree with how you ship Bruce, because I love pairing him with all three of those characters :)
blue by darkhavens

January 2018

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