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This article is about the fictional material from the Superman mythos. For other uses, see Kryptonite (disambiguation).
The character Superman suffering from kryptonite poisoning courtesy of villains Metallo and Titano
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Radio:
The Adventures of Superman
(June 1943)
Superman #61
(Nov. 1949)
In story information
Type Element
Element of stories featuring Superman

Kryptonite is a material from the Superman mythos, specifically the ore form of a radioactive element from Superman's home planet of Krypton. First mentioned in The Adventures of Superman radio show in June 1943, the material has been featured in a variety of forms and colors (each with its own effect) in DC Comics publications and other media, including feature films, television series, and novelty items such as toys and trading card sets.

The established premise is that Superman and other Kryptonian characters are susceptible to its radiation, which created usage of the term in popular culture as a reference to an individual's perceived weakness, irrespective of its nature.[1] To commemorate the 70th anniversary of Superman, the University of Leicester participated in a public relations exercise and presented the Geological Society with "mock kryptonite", termed krypton difluoride.[2]


An unpublished 1940 story "The K-Metal from Krypton", by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel featured a prototype of kryptonite, a mineral from the planet Krypton that drained Superman of his strength while giving humans superhuman powers.[3]

A mineral actually named "kryptonite" was introduced in the story arc "The Meteor from Krypton" in June 1943 on The Adventures of Superman radio series. Bud Collyer, the actor who played Superman and Clark Kent, wanted a break from the series. So Superman was placed in a kryptonite trap, and a stand-in groaned with pain for several episodes until Collyer came back from holiday.

In 1949 kryptonite was incorporated into the comic mythos with issue #61 of Superman. In August 1993 pioneering female editor Dorothy Woolfolk stated in an interview with Florida newspaper Today that she had found Superman's invulnerability dull, and that DC's flagship hero might be more interesting with an Achilles' heel such as adverse reactions to a fragment of his home planet.[4]

Kryptonite gradually appeared more frequently, causing science fiction writer Larry Niven to theorize in tongue-in-cheek fashion that Krypton was in fact a Dyson sphere, and that this was the underlying reason for so much of the mineral finding its way to Earth courtesy of meteor showers.[5] In an effort to reduce the use of kryptonite in storylines, all known forms on Earth were transmuted into "k-iron" in a 1971 story arc[6] titled "The Sandman Saga".[7]


Various forms of the fictional mineral have been created in the Superman publications:

Green Originally red in color, the mineral debuted in Superman #61 (November 1949) and did not adopt its characteristic green hue until Action Comics #161 (Aug. 1951). Green kryptonite weakens Superman and other Kryptonians. The character has been shown to become immune to the effects of green kryptonite due to either repeated non-fatal exposure,[8] continuous long-term absorption of solar radiation,[9] or extremely high short-term exposure to the sun.[10] Post-Crisis sources establish that green kryptonite is also harmful to humans given sufficient long term exposure, resulting in cancer as Lex Luthor discovered as a result of a ring with a kryptonite jewel he wore to ward off Superman's presence.[11]
Red Debuted in Adventure Comics #252 (Sept. 1958). Originally just weakened Superman, but to a greater degree. Later caused bizarre behaviour and transformations.
Anti-Kryptonite Debuted in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). Harmless to Kryptonians, but has the same effect as the green variety on normal humans. The power source for one version of the character Ultraman, Superman's evil counterpart.[12]
X-Kryptonite Debuted in Action Comics #261 (Jan. 1960). Created by the character Supergirl in an unsuccessful attempt to find an antidote to green kryptonite. Harmless to Kryptonians, the mineral gives normal lifeforms superhuman abilities, as in the case of Supergirl's pet cat Streaky. Revised in Superman Family #203 (Oct. 1980) to have the same effect as the green variety on kryptonians.
Blue Debuted in Superman #140 (Oct. 1960). An "imperfect" form of kryptonite which affects the imperfect character Bizarro in the same way the green variety of kryptonite affects Superman.
White Debuted in Adventure Comics #279 (Dec. 1960). Kills all plant life, from any world.
Red-Green: first variety Debuted in Action Comics #275 (April 1961). An alloy created by the villainous character Brainiac, it caused Superman to mutate, temporarily growing a third eye in the back of his head.
Gold Debuted in Adventure Comics #299 (Aug. 1962). Kryptonite affected by atomic radiation, and capable of permanently removing a Kryptonian's ability to process yellow sunlight, which in turn nullifies all superhuman abilities. Post-Crisis, this kryptonite only removes a Kryptonian's powers temporarily.[13]
Red-Green-Blue-Gold Debuted in Superman #162 (July 1963). An imaginary story in which Superman combines the minerals to power a device to boost his intelligence. An explosion causes a mishap and the character is split into two separate beings ("Superman-Blue" and "Superman-Red"), both of whom possess enhanced intelligence.
Silver Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70 (July 1963). Revealed by Jimmy Olsen to be a hoax. In Superman/ Batman #49 (Aug. 2008), silver kryptonite was re-introduced, on this occasion shown to be authentic as it causes Kryptonians to suffer from delusions.
Jewel Debuted in Action Comics #310 (March 1964). Fragments of Krypton's Jewel Mountains. Amplifies the psychic powers of the criminals imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, allowing the characters to project illusions or perform mind control.
Bizarro Red Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #80 (Oct. 1964). Affects humans the same manner that red kryptonite affects Kryptonians.
Red-Green : second variety Debuted in Superboy Comics #121 (June 1965). Causes Superboy to lose his powers permanently but Phantom Zone criminal Vakox unwillingly cures him, restoring his powers.
Red-Gold Debuted in Superman #178 (July 1965). Temporarily deprives Kryptonians of their memories.
Magno-Kryptonite Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #92 (April 1966). Artificially created by the villain Mr. Nero, the mineral is magnetically attracted to all substances originally from Krypton.
Red-Green-Gold Debuted in Superman #192 (Jan. 1967). An imaginary story in which the alloy permanently removes the character's abilities and memories of ever having been Superman.
Slow Debuted in The Brave and the Bold #175 (June 1981). A modified variety of green kryptonite produced by supervillan Metallo that affects humans in a manner similar to the green mineral.
Kryptonite-X Debuted in The Adventures of Superman #511 (April 1994). A one-time fluke, Kryptonite-X was created when the character the Eradicator filtered a harmful barrage of kryptonite discharged by the villain Cyborg Superman at Superman. The result was actually beneficial: "supercharging" the character and restoring his ability to process solar radiation.
Pink Debuted in Supergirl vol. 4 #79 (April 2003). Seemingly turns Kryptonians gay. This type of kryptonite was mentioned in a single panel in a story that was a satire of the plots of the many Silver Age comic stories (such as those above in this list) which featured some strange new form of kryptonite.
Black Debuted in Supergirl #2 (vol. 5, Oct. 2005). Can split a Kryptonian into two separate entities: one good and the other evil.
Orange Debuted in Krypto the Superdog #4 (Feb. 2007). Gives super abilities to any animal that comes into contact with it for 24 hours.
Periwinkle Debuted in Superman Family Adventures #9 (March 2013). A non-canon story, exposure causes Kryptonians to lose all inhibitions.
Superman and Jimmy Olsen discuss the mineral kryptonite, with the jewel variant making its debut in Action Comics #310 (March 1964).
Art by Curt Swan.

Other varieties of the mineral have appeared but have been revealed to be hoaxes, such as yellow (Action Comics #277, June 1961); "kryptonite Plus" (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #126 Jan. 1970) and "blood", although this was a hoax (52 #13, Aug. 2006).

In other media[edit]


Columbia Pictures produced two 15-part radio serials that used kryptonite as a plot device: Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).



  • Adventures of Superman (1952 - 1958): episodes "Panic in the Sky", "The Defeat of Superman" (both 1953), "Superman Week", "The Deadly Rock" (both 1955), "The Magic Secret", "The Gentle Monster" and "All That Glitters" (all 1958) all feature kryptonite.
  • "Superboy" (1988 - 1992) featured green kryptonite the episodes "Kryptonite Kills" and "Metallo" (both 1989), "Bride of Bizarro" (1990), "Kryptonite Kid" (1991) and "Obituary for a Super-Hero" (1992); red in "Super Menace" (1990) and a Bizarro White variant in "The Battle With Bizarro" (1989), which heals the title character.
  • Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997) featured green kryptonite in several episodes, including "The Green, Green Glow of Home", "Barbarians at the Planet", "The House of Luthor" (all 1993) "Metallo" (1994), "Top Copy" (1995) and "Battleground Earth" (1996), with the red variety appearing in "Individual Responsibility" and "Ultrawoman" (both 1995) and "Lethal Weapon" (1997).
  • Smallville (2001 - 2011) featured kryptonite on a regular basis: a large quantity of the green variety descends to Earth in meteor shower, arriving in the town of Smallville, Kansas with the spaceship containing the infant Kal-El. The mineral is colloquially referred to by Smallville residents as "meteor rock", but is eventually called "kryptonite" by Clark Kent once he discovers his origins ("Rosetta", Season 2, 2003). Aside from being harmful to Clark Kent, the mineral produces bizarre changes in flora and fauna, including occasionally bestowing metahuman abilities on humans. These people are commonly known by the inhabitants of Smallville as "Meteor Freaks." The green variety of the mineral appears in several episodes every season, although other varieties appear, including red ("Red": 2002. "Exodus", "Exile", "Phoenix" : 2003, "Unsafe": 2005, "Crimson": 2007, "Upgrade": 2010), black, formed when superheating green kryptonite ("Crusade": 2004, "Doomsday": 2009), silver ("Splinter": 2005), blue ("Blue": 2007, "Persona": 2008, "Kandor": 2009, "Salvation": 2010, 'Harvest": 2011), gem ("Persuasion": 2010) and gold ("Prophecy", "Finale": 2011). Smallville was the first appearance of a Black kryptonite that would split a person into their Good and Evil halves, before later being brought into the comic canon in Supergirl #2 (vol. 5, Oct. 2005), though the concept of being split into good and evil personas had been previously used.
  • Supergirl (2015–present): in the series' pilot, Kara is shot down by a low-level green kryptonite tranquilizer made by the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, and is placed on a gurney with green kryptonite handcuffs. In "Stronger Together", a room with low level kryptonite radiation is used to train Supergirl in fighting without her power. Later Hank Henshaw uses a kryptonite knife on Astra Zor-El. When Astra brings the knife to a scientist, he is unable to determine its origin, only stating it is not from Earth and that it emits specific radiation damaging to Kryptonian cells, which suggests Kryptonian experience with the substance was limited or none before their planet's destruction. By the episode "Hostile Takeover", the Kryptonians have managed to develop a wearable device blocking the radiation. DEO was shown to use kryptonite radiation guns in addition to the darts. In the episode "Bizarro", the DEO attempts to use kryptonite bullets on the titular character, but it only serves to disfigure and apparently strengthen her. However, the DEO manages to synthesize a substance with reversed ionic charge and opposite properties (blue kryptonite) which proves effective in taking Bizarro down.

Animated series[edit]

  • Super Friends (1973-1986) featured Kryptonite in the episodes "Superfriends: Rest in Peace" ("Krypton Steel"); "Darkseid's Golden Trap" (gold); "Terror From the Phantom Zone" (blue, green, and red); "Return of the Phantoms" (green); "Rokan: Enemy from Space" (green); "Bazarowurld" (red and blue); "Revenge of Bizarro" (red and blue); Will the world Collide?" (green); "Uncle Mxyzptlk" (red); "The Death of Superman" (green); "Batman: Dead or Alive" (green).
  • Superman (1988) features a Kryptonite ring, worn by Lex Luthor.
  • Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000) attempts an explanation of the effect of the material on Superman. This series and The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999) showcase a three-part crossover story arc called World's Finest that demonstrates the effect of kryptonite poisoning on humans.
  • Justice League (2001-2004) explores the same theme.
  • In Batman Beyond (1999-2001) the two-part episode "The Call" reveals kryptonite has been kept safe in the distant future as an anti-Superman deterrent.
  • Krypto the Superdog (2005-2006) features green, red and even a purple-spotted variation.
  • Legion of Super Heroes (2006-2008) features green, while the Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011) episode "The Battle of the Superheroes" features both red and green.
  • The Young Justice (2010-2013) episode "Auld Acquaintance" features use of the green variety.

Video games[edit]




  1. ^ "TvTropes". TvTropes. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  2. ^ Barbara Whiteman (February 2003). "The Man of Steel Carries Kryptonite to Piccadilly" (Press release). Retrieved July 8, 2010. 
  3. ^ Jones, Gerard. Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, 2004, pg. 181-183, ISBN 0-465-03656-2
  4. ^ Tippens, Norman. "Dorothy Woolfolk, Superman Editor", Daily Press (Hampton, Virginia), December 6, 2000. WebCitation archive.: As related by Tippens, who notes, "although there is no definitive record".
  5. ^ Niven, Larry. "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex", All the Myriad Ways (Ballantine Books, 1971).
  6. ^ Superman #233-235 (Jan. - March), #237-238 (May - June), #240 -242 (July - Sept.)
  7. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. New editor Julius Schwartz, new scripter Denny O'Neil, and regular artist Curt Swan removed the Man of Steel's greatest weakness from the face of the Earth. 
  8. ^ Superboy #58, July 1957
  9. ^ Kingdom Come #1 - 4 (May - Aug. 1996)
  10. ^ All-Star Superman #1 (Jan, 2006), DC Comics
  11. ^ Byrne, John; Giordano, Dick (May 1988). "Games People Play". Action Comics 1 (500): 8. 
  12. ^ JLA:Earth 2 (Sep. 2000).
  13. ^ Action Comics Annual #11 (July 2008)
  14. ^ "'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice': 6 EW exclusive photos". Entertainment Weekly. July 2, 2015. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^

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