I agree. I don't want him front and center either, I just feel storywise, the sequel would be the perfect time for him to swoop in with his anti-superman propaganda and schemes. If not now I don't see a better time for them to work him in there. But I think he absolutely should be secondary to Brainiac
Honestly, we do need Lex Luthor in this film franchise, and yes, he should be a major character/foil.
One of the themes in Man of Steel was truth/faith, both in the case of Kal putting said trust in his adopted family, the human race, and in himself. With the way things ended and Superman telling Swanwick to convince the US that he's here to stay and help (on his terms), we need to see the other side of that trust worthy coin.
The previous Luthors on the big screen didn't do Lex justice in the sense that through modern interpretations of the character, he's doing what he believes is honestly in humanity's best interest, not showcasing himself as the "greatest criminal mastermind of our time". The first film was the DC Cinematic Universe's first exposure to superpowers and alien life forms, and Lex needs to be the guy who doesn't sound all that crazy when he says that beings like Superman can and are a threat to humanity if left unchecked. Sure, he also needs to be a self serving, jaded, and corrupted man, but Luthor, like Superman, needs to represent qualities of humanity we can identify with, albeit reluctantly. Smallville, horrendous as it was at times, did Lex justice with his portrayal. The Man of Steel/DCCU should follow that example.
That said, I don't want to see him physically engage Superman. He should be developing anti-Superman measures/weapons and/or possibly be involved with Brainac's incursion (I can even see Luthor obtaining a sample of either Superman's DNA that was left over in the fight, or more logically, getting his hands on Zod's corpse and making a "Bizarro" like clone with it). Luthor should never be the immediate threat to Superman, but the long term and insidious one that only gets more and more bothersome as time passes on.
Cyborg Superman/Lex Luthor for the sequel. Lex builds CS from Kryptonian tech he gets access to. This would help establish Lex as a true intellect who's able to adapt Kryptonian tech but build an Cyborg than is every bit as powerful, if not more so, than even Superman. It makes him a credible threat than same of the Lex hacks we seen in the past.
They already confirmed Lex MoS2. Anyways, Brainiac would be a nice choice but not for a movie. I rather have Lex Luthor as the main antagonist. Something he does during the movie create a new villain, nothing too big. Parasite, or someone that can make Superman weak, NOT KRYPTONITE. Bring Superman down a notch, much like they did with Spiderman 2.
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Lex Luthor as a villain will be the CEO of Lex Corp, seriously in a real world why will a CEO like Warren Buffet or Carlos Slim will like to fight the Man of Steel???
It will mostly be a CEO villain which seriously kills the character for me.
Plus that I have seen so many Superman movies with Lex Luthor as a villain that I feel like they should let him rest from the movies for a while. well I can think If somehow they can make Luthor to create a bizarro Superman but it very similar to Superman IV, so I guess I stick to the idea of forgetting Luthor at least for the second movie
Braniac will be great, Doomsday, Cyborg Superman.
Hemmil went to the phantom zone so that gives some room to create a villain as well.