|First appearance||Superman #1
|Created by||Jerry Siegel
|In story information|
|Notable locations||Argo City
Krypton is a fictional planet in the DC Universe and the native world of Superman. In some stories, it is also the native world of Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog, and Power Girl (albeit an alternate universe version in her case, designated "Krypton-Two"). Krypton has been portrayed consistently as having been destroyed just after Superman's flight from the planet, with exact details of its destruction varying by time period, writers and franchise. Kryptonians were the dominant species on Krypton.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Versions of Krypton
- 2.1 Golden Age Krypton
- 2.2 Silver Age Krypton
- 2.3 Modern Krypton
- 3 Krypton in other media
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Krypton is usually portrayed in comics as having exploded as a result of a nuclear chain reaction caused by the planet's unstable radioactive core (which created Kryptonite, which is deadly to Superman). As originally depicted, all the civilizations and races of Krypton perished in the explosion, except for one survivor: the baby Kal-El who was placed in an escape rocket by his father, Jor-El, and sent to the planet Earth, where he grew up to become Superman.
In some versions of the Superman mythos, additional survivors were later discovered, such as Krypto the Superdog, Supergirl, her parents (kept alive in the "Survival Zone", a similar parallel "dimension" to the Phantom Zone), the criminal inhabitants of the Phantom Zone, Dev-Em, Beppo the Super-Monkey, the residents of the bottled city of Kandor, and the real parents of both Superman and Supergirl.
From the late 1980s through the early 2000s, the number of survivors was reduced to Superman himself in the comic book stories (the Eradicator was added in 1989 as a nonsentient device, and shown to be self-aware in 1991), but more recent accounts have restored Supergirl, Krypto, and Kandor and introduced another newly discovered survivor, Karsta Wor-Ul.
Kryptonian civilization's level of technological advancement has ranged from being only a few centuries ahead of Earth (such as in Kevin J. Anderson's The Last Days of Krypton novel), being millennia ahead and referred to by Lex Luthor as "one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe" (in the Superman film series) and hundreds of thousands of years (in Man of Steel).
Versions of Krypton
Golden Age Krypton
In its first appearance, Krypton was only depicted at the moment of its destruction. Soon, beginning in the Superman comic strip, Krypton was shown to have been a planet similar to Earth, only older by eons and possessed of all the beneficial progress that implied (though the downside was the hint that Krypton exploded due mainly to old age).
The debut of the Superman newspaper comic strip in 1939 also delved into further details about Krypton, including introducing the idea that all Kryptonians possessed a level of heightened physical abilities, including super-strength and super-speed. In the early comics' version of Krypton, Superman's parents were named "Jor-L" and "Lora" (changed to the more familiar "Jor-El" and "Lara" by the end of the 1940s).
The Golden Age Krypton would be revised into another form almost as soon as it was defined (see Krypton in Transition below), and very few stories were written about it. However, after the introduction of DC's multiverse in the 1960s, this version of Krypton was declared to be the Krypton of the Earth-Two universe (the native dimension of DC's Golden Age characters) and its Superman.
After the emergence of Earth-Two as a differentiated alternate universe within the DC Multiverse, Power Girl (Kara Zor-L) was introduced as Krypton-Two's alternate Supergirl in 1976. Unlike the Silver Age Supergirl, who grew to adolescence in Argo City before its destruction, which led to her parents sending her to Earth, Krypton-Two's Zor-L and Allura sent their Kara to Earth as an infant without the intermediate stage. However, given that Zor-L wasn't as conversant with advanced astrophysics as his brother Jor-L, Power Girl's journey took longer than that of her cousin Superman (Kal-L), and she arrived on Earth having grown to adolescence. It was later established that she was brought up by Earth Two's Superman and Lois Lane, a married couple on their world. Kal-L and Kara Zor-L were the only known survivors of Krypton-Two, unlike the Silver Age analogue. Earth Two's universe lacked its own Brainiac, so its Kandor was never abducted from Krypton Two before its destruction, nor did Kal-L have his own version of Krypto as an infant and toddler on this world. Presumably, Jor-L never discovered the Phantom Zone on Krypton-Two, nor was it therefore used to imprison Kryptonian criminals through exiling them to that extra-dimensional prison.
In the Golden Age, Superman was unaware initially of his true origins; in Superman #61, Superman discovered the existence of Krypton for the first time and learned of his Kryptonian heritage. He later encountered other survivors prior to Kara's arrival in the form of three criminals, U-Ban, Kizo, and Mala, who were exiled by Superman's father before Krypton's destruction.
Krypton in transition
Over the course of the 1940s and 1950s, various alterations and additions to the makeup of Krypton were made in the comics. Among them was an explanation of why the natives of Krypton perished if they had possessed superpowers on their native world (as was the case in the earliest versions of Krypton outlined above, although this only became a problem once Superman — and by extension anyone from Krypton — was portrayed as increasingly powerful, able to withstand nuclear explosions, contrasted with his original power level in which a bursting mortar shell could penetrate his skin).
Thus, it was explained by the early 1950s that Kryptonians were powerless on their own planet and would gain superpowers only within a lower gravity environment. This matched the correct theories being published that when man reaches the Moon (a lighter gravity environment) he will be able to lift great masses and leap great distances. In the early 1960s, added to this was the need to be exposed to the rays of a yellow sun (versus Krypton's red sun, which was older and cooler, or put out less energy) to gain super powers, with the yellow sun aspect soon gaining the much greater emphasis. Other changes to the concept of Krypton and its culture were introduced, many of which were stylistic.
Silver Age Krypton
By the late 1950s, Krypton played an increasing role in various Superman stories, with greater detail provided about Krypton's makeup.
Kryptonians made use of their advanced science to create a world where scientific inventions and research influenced much of daily life. Robots and computers were used for many tasks on Krypton, even for determining what career paths young boys and girls would take as they grew up. Scientific and technological research were highly valued on Krypton, with the ruling body of Krypton named the "Science Council".
Several stories featured characters traveling back in time to visit Krypton before its destruction; one example is the 1960 story "Superman's Return to Krypton", in which Superman is swept back in time to Krypton some years before its destruction. Powerless, he spends some time on the planet, where he meets his future parents-to-be and falls in love with a Kryptonian actress named Lyla Lerrol. A Superman "imaginary story" entitled "What If Krypton Had Not Exploded?" (reprinted in the trade paperback edition The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told) gave more insight into Krypton's society.
Superman's Kryptonian heritage was a frequent factor in Silver Age Superman comic storylines, as he was fully aware of his origins from an early age. Superman would use this knowledge for such tasks as constructing advanced Kryptonian technology or observing some of Krypton's traditions.
Krypton originally had two moons. One of them, Wegthor, was accidentally destroyed by the deviant Kryptonian scientist Jax-Ur, who was experimenting with a nuclear missile that was accidentally diverted from its intended destination (an approaching meteor). The disaster killed 500 inhabitants of the moon and Jax-Ur became the first and only criminal to be banished eternally to the Phantom Zone. This disaster also prompted the Science Council of Krypton to ban space flight completely, providing another explanation of why Krypton's civilization perished with the planet. The other satellite, Mithen, had an unknown fate after Krypton's immolation.
The Silver Age Superman was not alone in the survival of Krypton's destruction, being joined by his cousin Supergirl, the Phantom Zone criminals, Beppo the super-monkey, Krypto the Superdog, a juvenile delinquent named Dev-Em, the entire population of the city of Kandor, Supergirl's real parents, and even Superman's real parents (in hibernation on a space ship - Superboy #158, July 1969), When the planet exploded, one entire city of Krypton, Argo City, survived the cataclysm.
Argo City drifted through space on an asteroid-sized fragment of Krypton, which had been transformed into Kryptonite by the explosion. The super-advanced technology of its Kryptonian inhabitants allowed them to construct a life-sustaining dome and a lead shield that protected their city from the Kryptonite radiation of the asteroid. The protective shield was destroyed in a meteor storm, exposing the inhabitants to the deadly radiation.
The sole survivor of Argo City, Kara Zor-El, was sent to Earth by her scientist father to live with her cousin Kal-El, who had become known as Superman. Kara adjusted to her new life on Earth and became known as Supergirl. It was later discovered that Supergirl's parents had survived in the Survival Zone, a parallel "dimension" similar to the Phantom Zone, from which she released them. When the bottle city of Kandor was finally enlarged on a new planet, Supergirl's parents joined its inhabitants to live there.
In 1979, a mini-series titled World of Krypton was published, providing a great amount of detail into Krypton's history just before its destruction, along with the life story of Jor-El himself. A three-issue miniseries entitled The Krypton Chronicles, published in 1981, tells of Superman researching his roots when, as Clark Kent, he was assigned to write an article about Superman's family by an assignment editor impressed with the television miniseries Roots. To do so, he and Supergirl travel to Kandor, where they learn the history of the El family. In 1985, writer Alan Moore gave a somewhat darker glimpse into the world of Krypton in his story "For the Man Who Has Everything" (in Superman Annual #11), the premise being an elaborate dream of Superman's in which Krypton had not exploded and he'd grown to adulthood there. Background details are culled from other Krypton stories. This same story was retold in the animated series Justice League Unlimited in an episode by the same name.
The people now known as Daxamites were originally Kryptonians who left their homeworld in order to explore the universe. (In post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, the Eradicator, an artificial lifeform programmed to preserve all Kryptonian culture, altered the birthing matrices ("artificial wombs") that the explorers took with them so that all newborns would be fatally vulnerable to lead and other materials such as greenhouse gases and certain rocks.) Thus, if they persisted in their anti-Kryptonian wanderlust, they would all die from it. One Daxamite, Mon-El, was poisoned by lead and preserved in the Phantom Zone until a cure was found by Brainiac 5 in the 30th century, whereafter Mon-El became a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
After the 1985 mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, this version of Krypton was soon replaced by a newer version. However, the Silver Age Krypton made a rare post-Crisis appearance in The Sandman #48, during a flashback sequence featuring Death and Destruction of The Endless, beings who were evidently unaffected by the reality-altering events of the Crisis.
The Man of Steel
Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, which rebooted the history of the DC Universe and retro-actively eliminated the existence of the Golden and Silver Age versions of Krypton, writer/artist John Byrne was given the task of recreating the entire Superman mythos. This rewrite was started in the 1986 Man of Steel miniseries, which addressed Krypton in both its opening and closing chapters.
Krypton itself was the main subject of the late 1980s The World of Krypton miniseries (not to be confused with the 1979 miniseries of the same name). This miniseries was written by Byrne and illustrated by Mike Mignola, and filled in much of Krypton's new history.
The new Krypton was approximately one-and-a-half times larger than the Earth and orbited a red sun called Rao fifty light-years from our solar system. Krypton's primordial era produced some of the most dangerous organisms in the universe. It was for this reason that Krypton was chosen as the place to create Doomsday through forced evolution. Until its destruction, many dangerous animals, including ferrophage moles, still existed on Krypton. Kryptonians had to use their advanced technology to survive. Over 100,000 years ago, Krypton had already developed scientific advancements far beyond those of present-day Earth, and within a few millennia had conquered disease, learned to delay the aging process, and perfected cloning; vast banks of non-sentient clones held multiple copies of each living Kryptonian so that replacement parts were always available in the case of injury. All Kryptonians were effectively immortal, "with all the strength and vigor of youth maintained," and enjoyed an idyllic, sensual existence in an Arcadian paradise.
However, this society was tipping toward decadence and eventually political strife resulted from the debate as to whether clones should have rights (sparked by the presence of an alien missionary known as The Cleric). Eventually this disagreement led to open violent conflict, especially after it was openly discovered that a woman's cloned copy of herself was allowed to gain full sentience and to establish a full, normal life. However, when a young man (the original woman's son) had discovered that his fiance was this clone, he killed the clone and then publicly killed his mother, and also attempted his own suicide before being stopped. This key incident ignited the Clone Wars, during which Kryptonian science was turned to warfare and several super-weapons were developed and used. Among them was the device known as the Destroyer.
Although the Eradicator's effects (altering the DNA of all Kryptonian lifeforms so that they would instantly die upon leaving the planet) were felt immediately, the Destroyer's effects were possibly more significant: by the time the Kryptonian government admitted defeat and abolished the clone banks, a pro-clone rights terrorist faction known as Black Zero had started the Destroyer, a device which functioned as a giant nuclear gun, projecting massive streams of nuclear energy into the core of Krypton, intended to trigger an explosive chain reaction within Krypton's core almost immediately.
At the time, it was believed that although the use of the Destroyer resulted in a nuclear explosion which eliminated the post-Crisis city of Kandor, the device had been stopped before it could achieve planetary destruction (ironically, by an ancestor of Jor-El himself), but centuries later Jor-El would discover that the reaction had only been slowed to a nearly imperceptible rate and would eventually destroy the planet as intended.
Meanwhile, though it had for now survived the war, Krypton was scarred deeply by it. The formerly lush garden world was burned and blasted to mostly a lifeless desert, and a sterile, emotionally dead civilization—much unlike its predecessor—emerged. The population became isolated from one another in widely separated technological citadels and shunned all personal, physical contact. Procreation then became a matter of selecting compatible genetic material that would then be placed within an artificial womb called a "birthing matrix". The isolationist planetary government forbade exploring space and communicating with other worlds.
The young scientist Jor-El was born into this world. By his adult years, the mysterious "Green Plague" was killing Kryptonians by the hundreds, and upon researching the matter, Jor-El discovered that its cause was growing radiation produced by Krypton's increasingly unstable core. This process was going to cause the planet to explode.
Unable to convince his associates to abandon tradition and consider escape, and reasoning that modern Kryptonian society had grown cold, unfeeling and thus decadent, Jor-El removed the Eradicator's planetary binding genes from his genetic pattern, took the birthing matrix of his unborn son Kal-El and attached a prototype interstellar propulsion system to the vessel. Just as the planet began to shake apart, he launched the matrix towards Earth, where it would open and give birth to the infant upon landing (the post-Crisis Superman therefore was considered to be technically "born" on Earth). Jor-El was not only determined that his son would survive the death of his birthworld, but that he would grow up on a world that vibrantly embraced living, as his pre-Clone Wars forbears once did.
The Last Son of Krypton
A central theme of this version of the Superman mythos was that the character was to remain the last surviving remnant of Krypton. Thus, Silver Age elements such as Supergirl, Krypto, and Kandor had never existed in this version (though post-Crisis versions of these elements were eventually reintroduced).
The supervillain Doomsday was revealed in the 1990s as a being genetically engineered by Bertron, an alien scientist, on an ancient Krypton. Doomsday left the planet after killing Bertron and Krypton's natives found the remains of Bertron's lab, thus obtaining the knowledge of cloning.
In the newer continuity, Superman also became aware of his alien heritage only sometime after his debut as a superhero - initially assuming himself to be a human mutated in some manner and launched as part of an Earth space program - when a holographic program encoded into the craft which brought him to Earth uploaded the information into his brain (although Lex Luthor had earlier discovered his alien heritage when his attempts to create a clone of Superman were complicated by the unexpected x-factor of Superman's alien DNA).
In Action Comics #600 (May 1988), Krypton, was close enough to Earth that the radiation from its explosion (traveling only at light speed) was able to reach Earth.
In a 1988 storyline, Superman traveled to the former site of Krypton to discover that the planet was slowly reforming from the vast sphere of debris remaining. However, it would take millions of years before the planet would be solid again. This sphere of debris had been turned to Kryptonite by the planet's destruction, and the radiation causes Superman to have a hallucination concerning an alternate scenario in which the entire population of Krypton comes to Earth.[volume & issue needed]
In Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #3 - "Unforgiven" - an Elseworlds tale, Jor-El convinces the Science Council to relocate selected Kryptonians to Earth, somewhat retold this same tale, with the introduction of Batman.
In a 1999 Starman storyline, Jack Knight became lost in time and space, and landed on Krypton several years before its destruction, meeting Jor-El as a young man. The story boldly implies that it was this early meeting with a Terran that led Jor-El to study other worlds and eventually choose Earth as the target for his son's spacecraft; at the story's end, Jack gives Jor-El a device with the coordinates and images of Earth.
In a 2001–2002 storyline, an artificial version of the pre-Crisis Krypton was created in the Phantom Zone by Brainiac-13, a descendant of the original Brainiac who had traveled back in time to the present. It was stated to have been based on Jor-El's favorite Kryptonian historical period.
In the 2004 mini-series Superman: Birthright, a new retelling of Superman's origin and early years, Mark Waid depicted a Krypton, officially stated as being located in the Andromeda Galaxy 2.5 million light-years away, and depicted the planet featuring elements of various versions of the planet. Although usually depicted as a red giant or red supergiant, in this story Rao is mentioned by Jor-El to be a red dwarf.
Waid also made use of Superman's "S"-shield in his version of Krypton. While in previous comic versions of the mythos, it was assumed the "S" simply stood for "Superman"; in Birthright, Waid presented the symbol as a Kryptonian symbol of hope (borrowing and modifying a concept from Superman: The Movie, where the "S" represented the House of El, Superman's ancestral family).
The series reversed many of John Byrne's decisions from The Man of Steel to reflect the more Silver Age-oriented version of Superman, similar to the Smallville television series and the Superman movies.
Beginning with Infinite Crisis, writer Geoff Johns began laying subtle hints to a new origin for Superman. Last Son, a storyline co-written by Geoff Johns and Superman film director Richard Donner, further delves into this version of Krypton which reintroduces General Zod and the Phantom Zone criminals into mainstream continuity. With art by Adam Kubert, the design of Kryptonian society is distinct yet again from Birthright, incorporating elements of both pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity and Donner's work on the first two Christopher Reeve films, in particular the notion of Krypton's Council threatening Jor-El with harsh punishment were he to make public his predictions of their planet's imminent doom. Whether this further revision of continuity has an in-universe rationale is as yet unknown, but it may stem from continuity changes wrought by the reality-fracturing conclusion of Infinite Crisis. This variation of Krypton's past was seen in flashbacks during Superman: Brainiac and New Krypton. The very different depictions of Kryptonian clothing in the Golden and Silver Age comics, in the Christopher Reeve films, and in John Byrne's The Man of Steel all appeared in Johns' Superman: Secret Origin, (which superseded Superman: The Man of Steel and Superman: Birthright).
Multi-ethnic versions of Kryptonians that resemble Africans and Asians have also made appearances in the stories. Though previously, "black" Kryptonians were mainly confined within the Kryptonian continent of Vathlo Island, a 2011 storyline, Kryptonians resembling Black and Asian humans were more integrated into Kryptonian society than they were in the Silver and pre-Modern Age DC Universe.
The New 52
As shown in Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics, Krypton is again a scientific and cultural utopia, and Kryptonians themselves are highly intelligent, even from infancy; Morrison describes Krypton as, “the planet of your dreams. A scientific utopia. I wanted to explore Krypton as the world of super people. What would happen if they worked it all out, if they lived for 500 years with amazing technology?” which Cody Walker elaborates on, saying that, "Kal-El the next step in evolution physically, but he comes from a planet that is the next stage in evolution as well. If his strength makes him the Man of Steel, then the ideologies that rule his planet make Superman the Man of Tomorrow." In Action Comics #14 (January 2013), which was published November 7, 2012, a year into The New 52 initiative, which rebooted the continuity of most of its titles, real-life astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson appears in the story, in which he determines that Krypton orbited the red dwarf LHS 2520 in the constellation Corvus 27.1 lightyears from Earth. Tyson assisted DC Comics in selecting a real-life star that would be an appropriate parent star to Krypton, and picked Corvus, which is Latin for "Crow", and which is the mascot of Superman's high school, the Smallville Crows. In a 2012 round-table discussion, Tyson stated that he chose to use real science when finding Krypton's location. He explained that many artists may only use bits and pieces of science, allowing for greater latitude in their creativity, but, he said, he wanted to show that using the real science, particularly the astrophysics behind the search, can allow for just as much creativity.
Krypton in other media
The first non-comics version of Krypton was presented in the debut storyline of the 1940s Superman radio series. In the radio show, Krypton was part of our Solar System, a Counter-Earth sharing Earth's orbit but on the opposite side of the Sun, hidden from view of the Earth ("Krypton" derives from the Greek word for "hidden"). Some comics of the early 1950s also suggested a similar theory, but in general the comics have depicted Krypton as being in a far-away star system.
- Krypton was very briefly depicted in the first Fleischer Studios-produced Superman cartoon in the early 1940s as "a planet that burned like a green star in the distant heavens [and where] civilization was far advanced and it brought forth a race of Supermen whose mental and physical powers were developed to the absolute peak of human perfection," implying that all Kryptonians had Superman's abilities even on their own planet. The planet is seen only from a distance, just before its explosion.
- Depictions of Krypton on both The New Adventures of Superman and Super Friends are generally similar to those of the pre-Crisis comic books.
- In Superman: The Animated Series, "The Last Son of Krypton", the first part of a three-part pilot episode, depicts Krypton as being basically similar to the pre-Crisis version (it was scientifically advanced, Kal-El appeared to be about one to two-years-old as in the Silver Age comics, there are depictions of peculiar animals) although with elements of the John Byrne version (such as the appearance of the characters' wardrobe). Krypton's climate is shown to have both temperate and Arctic conditions. According to commentary on the DVD collection for the show's first season, part of Krypton's appearance was influenced by the artistic style of American comic book artist Jack Kirby.
- This version depicted the villain Brainiac as responsible-via-inaction for the destruction of Krypton's people (though not the planet itself). Brainiac was the planet's depended-on A.I. system; it, like Jor-El, discovered that the planet would explode after several weeks of intense seismic activity. Brainiac knew that if the Kryptonian elders learned of it, Brainiac would be tasked with formulating an evacuation plan. This would leave Brainiac itself with no time to escape, so it told the elders that Jor-El was mistaken and that the quakes were the result of a polar shift and secretly downloaded itself and all of Krypton's culture and knowledge information onto a satellite and jettisoned it out of Krypton's orbit, while Kryptonian civilization (save for Jor-El and his family) remained unaware of the planet's peril until it was too late to evacuate.
- Krypton had a "sister planet" named Argo, colonized by Kryptonians many centuries before the destruction of Krypton, its people had a greater resistance to Kryptonite under a yellow sun. On a journey into space, Superman found that the explosion of Krypton pushed the planet from its orbit away from its sun, making the planet gradually become colder. Its people went into cryostasis to survive, but an accident left Supergirl the only survivor. (It was also shown that by this point the remains of Krypton had settled into an asteroid belt of kryptonite).
- In the Legion of Super Heroes animated series, Krypton is shown in a flashback during the episode "Message in a Bottle". Here, Jor-El actually managed to find a way to save the planet with his creation, the crystal-creating "Messenger". The Messenger was kept in the city of Kandor, until the city was shrunk and stolen by Brainiac, causing the planet's destruction. At the end of the episode, the Messenger is used to restore Krypton from its remains, and Kandor is restored to its full size so its people can begin life anew.
Superman: The Movie
With the release of the first feature-length Superman movie in 1978, a vastly less idyllic image of Krypton, compared to the previous comics' versions, was presented. Whereas in the comics, Krypton was colorful and bright, in Superman, the planet was envisioned as having stark white terrain of jagged frozen plateaus, stretching broadly under heavy, dark skies (becoming redder as their sun grew toward becoming supernova), prompting Jor-El to attempt to persuade the immediate evacuation of the entire planet to the council of elders, to avoid perishing in the cataclysm, to no avail.
Kryptonians themselves were portrayed as being a coolly cerebral society, clad in stark white body-suits emblazoned with the standard of each family's house symbol, and treading through halls of antiseptic, white crystal under crystalline arches. The crystalline motif was employed not only in the architecture, but in the landscape and technology as well, suggesting that the entire planet had been adapted and altered by Kryptonian influence. In 1948, Krypton was ultimately destroyed when its red sun began to collapse; the planet was pulled into the sun and steadily crushed, then exploded in the ensuing supernova. Krypton is mentioned in deleted scenes to be located in the (fictional) "Xeno Galaxy" and Jor-El's recordings say that Kal-El will pass through six galaxies during his three-year voyage to Earth. This could either mean Krypton is millions of light-years away, well past the Andromeda Galaxy (making it the most remote of its various locations in any Superman story to date), or located in one of the dwarf galaxies closer to the Milky Way in the Local Group. Also, when Krypton was destroyed, fragments from the planet went into outer space, resulting in the creation of a harmful radioactive substance known as kryptonite.
In this version of the story, both Jor-El and Lara preserve some part of their "essence" (in the form of virtual copies of themselves) in the starship that brings their child to Earth. On Clark Kent's eighteenth birthday, a glowing crystal reveals itself in the ship and compels Clark to take it north. He eventually reaches the Arctic, where the crystal constructs the massive crystalline Fortress of Solitude. Inside, an artificially intelligent hologram of Jor-El appears to him and initiates twelve years of Kryptonian education for the youth. These virtual versions of both Jor-El and Lara remain as constructs within the Fortress throughout the series (until the alternate continuity of Superman Returns, see below).
Superman's symbol is given a Kryptonian origin in the film (as Smallville and Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright would years later). Male Kryptonians are shown wearing unique symbols on the chests of their robes, similar to a family crest; Jor-El and Kal-El after him wear the familiar S-shield, which Lois Lane later assumes to be the letter S from the familiar Latin alphabet, and thus dubs him "Superman".
In more recent years, it has been adapted by comics writers to be an actual grapheme of Kryptonian orthography, with the standard version of the shield meaning "hope", and the inverted (upside-down) version meaning "resurrection". In the 2008 Kevin Anderson novel The Last Days of Krypton, the El family crest is suggested to symbolize the serpent of deception imprisoned in a diamond-hard crystal of truth.
The 2006 movie Superman Returns presents a version of Krypton almost identical to Superman (since Superman Returns is more or less set in the same continuity as Superman: The Movie.) In the beginning of the film, scientists discover remains of Krypton, and Superman leaves Earth for five years to look for it. His ship is seen leaving the dead planet. In the shooting script for the film (under the production title Red Son), Lex Luthor reveals to a weakened Superman that his henchman actually set Superman up to believe that Krypton still existed by sending false signals.
During the beginning, we see the city where Kal-El was born (including the famous white dome that housed the trial of General Zod, Ursa, and Non), then as to replicate the lift-off, other cities can be seen on the night side and then finally the planet's destruction by a supernova of its red supergiant sun Rao.
Superman Returns extends the crystalline Kryptonian technology from Superman which allowed young Clark Kent to "grow" the Fortress of Solitude. Kryptonian crystals are able to grow huge land masses and incorporate the properties of the surrounding environment; a sliver taken from one of the crystals used to test the theory causes Lex Luthor's basement to be filled with a huge crystal structure. Growing land in this manner causes widespread power failure in the vicinity, inadvertently causing the emergency involving a space-shuttle and an airliner which acts as Superman's triumphant return. When he later returns to the Fortress of Solitude to find that the crystals that powered it have been stolen, Superman is visibly enraged. Lex Luthor later combines one of the crystals with Kryptonite and shoots it into the ocean, creating what he calls "New Krypton". After being stabbed and falling into the sea, and after being rescued by Lois Lane and her paramour Richard White, Superman uses his heat vision to get under the crust of the island and he then throws it into space, nearly killing himself in the process.
The novelization by Marv Wolfman further expands on the "S" as well, stating that one of Superman's ancestors helped civilize Krypton long ago, and the crest was considered one of the three most respected icons in Kryptonian culture.
Man of Steel
The 2013 film Man of Steel, offers a traditional concept with a much more dystopian background to Krypton and its fate. The planet is portrayed as having had an Earthlike terrain composed of mountains, canyons and oceans. The planet was 8.7 billion years old and approximately 27.1 light years from Earth. Its gravity was much higher than that of Earth, and its atmospheric composition differed to the extent of being unsuitable for humans. Kryptonians, from their side, required years of acclimatization in order to prosper in Earth atmosphere. Kryptonian civilization was 100,000 years old and many millennia more advanced than human civilization on Earth, and had begun exploring the Milky Way Galaxy 20,000 years prior to its destruction. But the Kryptonians later abandoned their projects in favor of artificial population control, artificially engineering newborns for pre-determined roles in society. The colonies were recalled, and the planet's resources were exhausted. Kal-El was the first naturally born child in centuries, and the concept was called "heresy" by Zod. Krypton was doomed to destruction due to its inhabitants' careless mining of their planet's core. As Jor-El attempted to warn the Science Council of their folly, at the same time, General Zod attempted a coup. In the chaos, Jor-El infused the genetic Codex of the planet into the cells of Kal-El, in hopes of preserving the Kryptonian race, and then sent his son to Earth. Zod managed to kill Jor-El but was arrested by the authorities. He and his followers were then banished to the Phantom Zone, shortly before Krypton was destroyed.
The destruction of their planet freed Zod and his crew, who were in a spaceship called Black Zero. They decided that they can't be around their planets ruins, and decided to use a phantom drive to search for Kal-El in former Kryptonian colonies. After 30 years, they picked up a distress signal from Earth when Kal-El activated a 20,000 year old scout ship. Suspecting that the ship Jor-El put his son in may have the codex, Zod and his crew traveled to Earth. After apprehending Kal-El, Zod entered his mind in a dream and explained that he planned to recreate Krypton, starting with the eradication of all humans. While Kal-El and Lois Lane were held prison in Zod's Spaceship, Zod arrived at the Kent's farm and asked Martha Kent of the location of Kal-El's spacecraft. Zod's lieutenant Faora then searched the craft, but was unable to locate the Codex. Kal-El and Lois Lane escaped, after which Kal-El returned to his home and fought against Faora and Nam-Ek. When Zod returned to his ship, one of his lieutenants alerted him to the fact that the Codex had been identified in a sample of Kal-El's blood cells taken earlier. Zod then reactivated the scoutship, planning to use the genesis chamber to renew the Kryptonian species. As Zod approached Metropolis to protect his crew and the "world engine" terraformer, Kal-El smashed into the scoutship and began to destroy it, stating that "Krypton had its chance". Zod's crew and ship were sent into the Phantom Zone in an explosion of the warp drive in Kal-El's spacecraft. With the seemingly last hope of restoring the Kryptonian race destroyed, Zod and Kal-El were all that remained of Krypton. When Kal-El killed Zod after attempting to kill an innocent family, Kal-El became the last known member of his species.
In the pilot episode of the 1950s television program Adventures of Superman Jor-El, portrayed by Robert Rockwell, was Krypton's leading scientist, who tried to warn the ruling council of Krypton's demise. In this take on the story, Jor-El proposed transporting the entire Kryptonian population to Earth via a fleet of rockets. He was laughed at by the council, and the planet began to break apart sooner than he expected anyway, leaving him only with a small test rocket, in which he and Lara placed Kal-El and his red-and-blue blankets. The explosion of Krypton was visualized through low-budget special effects and stock footage of simulated earthquakes. Of note is that the flight to Earth was depicted as occurring in a matter of seconds. The narrator had characterized Krypton as being "millions of miles" from Earth, which if taken literally would place it within the Earth's solar system.
The version of Krypton portrayed in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was similar to the version in Superman: The Movie.
The television series Smallville presents a version of Krypton that borrows elements from the 1978 movie version of the planet combined with elements of John Byrne's Post-Crisis version of the planet and culture.
Novelist Kevin J. Anderson presents approximately the last Earth year before Krypton's destruction in the novel The Last Days of Krypton. Depictions of the planet's society and culture loosely resemble elements from the motion picture Superman, television series Smallville, and the post-Infinite Crisis interpretations, although numerous similarities to Silver Age depictions of Krypton are also apparent.
Last Son of Krypton
The 1978 novel Last Son of Krypton by Elliot S! Maggin contains descriptions of Krypton, mainly referencing the Silver Age version; it describes the planet as a "failed star" with massive surface gravity and extremely hostile, glaciated conditions, which forced extreme adaptation and rapid evolution in the descendants of humanoid space travelers (and their dogs) who became stranded on its surface in prehistory. This led to an extremely strong, dense, and durable Kryptonian species with unusual physical properties. Maggin describes the rise of a civilization which uses geothermal heat as its primary power source, developing science and technology, but finding it difficult to escape the massive world's gravity. Eventually its internal nuclear reactions led to Krypton's explosion.
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- Walker, Cody (April 2013) "Humanity, Heroism, and Hope: Grant Morrison’s Action Comics #3"
- Wall, Mike (November 7, 2012). "Superman's Home Planet Krypton 'Found'". Scientific American
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- American Museum of Natural History (2012, November 14). Neil deGrasse Tyson on Finding Krypton
|Look up Appendix:DC Comics/Krypton in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Supermanica: Krypton Supermanica entry on the pre-Crisis Krypton.
- Superman Shield Evolution with picture