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Kryptonite (DC Comics).jpg
Green Kryptonite: art by Gary Frank.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Radio:
The Adventures of Superman
(June 1943)
Superman #61
(November 1949)
In story information
Type Element
Element of stories featuring Superman

Kryptonite is a fictional substance which is the most well-known weakness of a DC Comics superhero Superman. Kryptonite is the ore form of a radioactive element (prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths)[1] or compound (post-Crisis)[2] from Superman's home planet of Krypton. The popularity of Superman and his vulnerability to Kryptonite has led to the generic usage of the term in popular culture as a reference to an individual's weakness, similar to "Achilles' heel".[3]

First mentioned in The Adventures of Superman radio show in June 1943, Kryptonite 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.

Superman and all other Kryptonian characters are susceptible to Kryptonite radiation.[citation needed] In the Modern Age of Comic Books, it is established that Kryptonite can also affect non-Kryptonians though at a much slower rate, causing humans to develop acute radiation syndrome or superhuman abilities.[4]


The character Superman suffering from Kryptonite poisoning, courtesy of villains Metallo and Titano.
Action Comics Annual #10 (March 2007).
Art by Art Adams and Alex Sinclair.

An unpublished 1940 story titled "The K-Metal from Krypton", written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel, featured a prototype of Kryptonite. It was a mineral from the planet Krypton that drained Superman of his strength while giving humans superhuman powers.[5]

The mineral known as Kryptonite was introduced in the story arc "The Meteor from Krypton" in June 1943 on The Adventures of Superman radio series.[citation needed] Since radio shows had to be performed live when Clayton "Bud" Collyer, who played Superman/Clark Kent, wanted to take a vacation from the series Superman was placed in a Kryptonite trap. A stand-in groaned with pain for several episodes until Collyer came back from his vacation.[citation needed]

Kryptonite was incorporated into the comic mythos with Superman #61 (November 1949).[6] Editor Dorothy Woolfolk stated in an interview with "Florida Today" in August 1993, that she "felt Superman's invulnerability was boring".[7] However, this claim has been disputed in the comic book world.[citation needed]

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 or a cold neutron star and that this was the underlying reason for so much of the mineral finding its way to Earth courtesy of meteor showers.[8][page needed] 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 titled "The Sandman Saga".[9]

Forms: colors and effects [edit]

Various forms of the fictional material have been created over the years in Superman publications.

Green Kryptonite Originally red in color, the material debuted in Superman #61 (Nov. 1949) and did not adopt its characteristic green hue until Action Comics #161 (Aug. 1951). Green Kryptonite weakens Superman and other Kryptonians. It can and will kill them with long-term exposure. Characters have been shown to become immune to the effects of Green Kryptonite due to either long-term absorption of sunlight[10] or extremely high short-term exposure to the sun.[11] Post-Crisis sources establish that Green Kryptonite is also harmful to humans; with sufficient long-term exposure, it can result in cancer, as Lex Luthor discovered from a ring with a Kryptonite jewel he wore to ward off Superman's presence.[12]
Red Kryptonite Debuted in Adventure Comics #252 (Sept. 1958). Originally Red Kryptonite simply weakened Superman, but to a greater degree than Green Kryptonite. Red Kryptonite was later described as causing odd behavior or bizarre transformations, albeit temporary and non-fatal. Usually lasts up to three days.[citation needed]
Anti-Kryptonite Debuted in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). Harmless to Kryptonians, but has the same effect as the green variety on normal humans. Anti-Kryptonite is also the power source for one version of the character Ultraman, Superman's evil counterpart from an antimatter universe.[13]
X-Kryptonite Debuted in Action Comics #261 (Jan. 1960). Created by Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) in an unsuccessful attempt to find an antidote to green Kryptonite. Harmless to Kryptonians, the mineral gives normal life-forms 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 Kryptonite 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. Blue Kryptonite also affects members of the Bizarro League in the same way. Blue Kryptonite is the antidote to the random and bizarre effects of Red Kryptonite.
White Kryptonite Debuted in Adventure Comics #279 (Dec. 1960). Kills all plant life from any world.
Red-Green Kryptonite, first variety Debuted in Action Comics #275 (April 1961). An alloy created by the villainous character Brainiac, the Red-Green Kryptonite caused Superman to mutate, temporarily growing a third eye in the back of his head.
Gold Kryptonite Debuted in Adventure Comics #299 (Aug. 1962). Kryptonite affected by atomic radiation, capable of permanently removing a Kryptonian's ability to process yellow sunlight, which nullifies all superhuman abilities. In Post-Crisis this Kryptonite only removes a Kryptonian's powers temporarily.[14]
Red-Green-Blue-Gold Kryptonite Debuted in Superman #162 (July 1963). An imaginary story in which Superman combines the minerals to power an intelligence-expanding device. An explosion occurs and the hero is split into two separate beings ("Superman-Blue" and "Superman-Red") both of whom possess enhanced intelligence.
Silver Kryptonite Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70 (July 1963). Revealed by Jimmy Olsen to be a hoax. In Post-Crisis, Silver Kryptonite first appeared in Superman/Batman #46 (April 2008), modeled after the version that appeared in the Smallville TV series.[citation needed] Silver Kryptonite causes Kryptonians to suffer from altered perceptions, loss of inhibitions, and extreme hunger cravings.[citation needed] On the Supergirl TV series, this Kryptonite causes Superman to hallucinate his "greatest fear" of an attacking General Zod during the final episode of season 2 Nevertheless, She Persisted.[citation needed]
Jewel Kryptonite 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 them to project illusions or perform mind control.
Bizarro-Red Kryptonite Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #80 (Oct. 1964). Affects humans in the same manner that Red Kryptonite affects Kryptonians.
Red-Green Kryptonite, second variety Debuted in Superboy Comics #121 (June 1965). This caused Superboy to lose his powers permanently, but Phantom Zone criminal Vakox unwillingly cured him, restoring his powers.
Red-Gold Kryptonite Debuted in Superman #178 (July 1965). Temporarily deprives Kryptonians of their memories.
Magno-Kryptonite Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #92 (April 1966). Created by the villain Mr. Nero, this variety is magnetically attracted to all substances originally from Krypton.
Red-Green-Gold Kryptonite Debuted in Superman #192 (Jan. 1967). An imaginary story in which the alloy permanently removes Superman's powers and memories of himself as Superman.
Slow Kryptonite 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 Eradicator filtered a harmful barrage of Kryptonite discharged by the villain Cyborg Superman at Superman. The result was beneficial for Superman, supercharging and restoring his ability to process solar radiation.
Pink Kryptonite Debuted in Supergirl vol. 4 #79 (April 2003), Pink Kryptonite 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 many Silver Age comic stories (such as those listed above) which featured some strange new variety of Kryptonite. In the Justice League Action short "True Colours" it switches a Kryptonian's gender.
Black Kryptonite Debuted in Supergirl #2 (vol. 5, Oct. 2005). Can split a Kryptonian into two separate entities: one good and the other evil.
Orange Kryptonite Debuted in Krypto the Superdog #4 (Feb. 2007). Provides super abilities for 24 hours to any animal that comes into contact with it.
Periwinkle Kryptonite Debuted in Superman Family Adventures #9 (March 2013). A non-canon story. Exposure to Periwinkle Kryptonite 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 material 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" (52 #13, Aug. 2006).

In other media[edit]



  • The Adventures of Superman (1952-1958) featured Kryptonite in the 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 in 1958).
  • 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). The Red variety was featured in the episodes: "Super Menace" (1990). A Bizarro White variant was featured in the episode "The Battle With Bizarro" (1989), which heals the title character.
  • Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997) featured Green Kryptonite in the episodes "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). The Red variety was featured in the episodes "Individual Responsibility", "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 a meteor shower arriving in the town of Smallville, Kansas with the spaceship containing the infant Kal-El. The material 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. It also occasionally bestows metahuman abilities on humans depending on the circumstances of their exposure to it, such as a girl treated for a rare bone disease acquiring shapeshifting powers. 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 in "Red" (2002) "Exodus", "Exile", "Phoenix" 2003), "Unsafe" (2005), "Crimson" (2007), "Upgrade" (2010). Black, formed when superheating green kryptonite in "Crusade" (2004), "Doomsday" (2009). Silver in "Splinter" (2005). Blue in "Blue" (2007), "Persona" (2008), "Kandor" (2009), "Salvation" (2010), "Harvest" (2011). Gem in "Persuasion" (2010). Gold in "Prophecy" and "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).
  • Supergirl (2015–present) featured Green Kryptonite in episodes: "Pilot", "Stronger Together", "Hostile Takeover" (all in 2015), "For the Girl Who Has Everything" (2016), "Distant Sun" (2017). DEO manages to synthesize and create Blue Kryptonite is featured in the episode "Bizarro" (2016). The Red Kryptonite featured in the episode "Falling" (2016) as a failed attempt to recreate Green Kryptonite by Maxwell Lord. Silver Kryptonite is featured in the episode "Nevertheless, She Persisted (2017). The Season 2 episode "The Adventures of Supergirl" reveals that the D.E.O discovered Kryptonite and was first named by J'onn.


  • The Brady Kids (1972-1973) featured Green Kryptonite in the episode "Cindy's Super Friend". Which shows Clark Kent attempting to become Superman in the Kids' clubhouse, only to be incapacitated by a piece of Green Kryptonite as part of a rock collection.
  • Super Friends (1973-1986) features 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) offers 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 a deterrent against Superman due to the hero's past as a rogue agent under Darkseid's mind manipulation.
  • Krypto the Superdog (2005-2006) features Green, Red and even a purple-spotted variation.
  • Legion of Super Heroes (2006-2008) features Green.
  • Young Justice (2010-2013) featured Green Kryptonite in the episode "Auld Acquaintance".
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Battle of the Superheroes!", Superman is infected with a Red Kryptonite necklace secretly given to Lois Lane by Lex Luthor which causes Superman to become evil. Now Batman must work with Krypto the Superdog to hold off Superman until the effects of the Red Kryptonite wear off.


  • Superman (1978) Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) deduces that a meteorite found in Addis Ababa is actually a radioactive piece of the exploded planet Krypton. Luthor uses the mineral to weaken Superman (Christopher Reeve), who is saved by Luthor's lover Eve Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine).
  • Superman III (1983) billionaire Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn) orders the creation of synthetic Kryptonite. Computer programmer Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) uses tar to compensate for an unknown component of Kryptonite, causing the newly created mineral to eventually turn Superman evil and split the hero into two beings. Gorman's "supercomputer" later fights Superman and uses a Kryptonite ray.
  • Superman Returns (2006) Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) steals the Addis Ababa L9 Pallasite Meteorite and uses Kryptonite to create a new Kryptonian landmass and a dagger for use against Superman.
  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010) an alternate universe version of Lex Luthor uses Blue Kryptonite against the villain Ultraman.
  • Justice League: Doom (2012) the villain Metallo wounds Superman with a Kryptonite bullet, but he is saved by the JLA.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Kryptonite is discovered by men working for Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) at the bottom of the Indian Ocean and experimented with by Luthor, who learns of its harmful effect on Kryptonians when the corpse of General Zod is exposed to it. Kryptonite is stolen from Luthor by Batman (Ben Affleck), who uses the Kryptonite to create Kryptonite gas pellets and a Kryptonite-tipped spear, both of which he later uses in battle with Superman (Henry Cavill). Doomsday is also shown to be weakened by Kryptonite, allowing Superman to use the spear to kill him in the film's climax.[15]

Video games[edit]

  • Superman: Atari 2600 (1978) Luthor has created Kryptonite satellites and scattered them around Metropolis that take away Superman's ability to fly when touched. Superman must then walk around Metropolis until he finds and meets Lois Lane, to regain his powers.
  • Superman 64 (1999) appears as Kryptonite fog, coined as an excuse for the game's poor draw distance.
  • Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012) Kryptonite is used to power Lex Luthor's weapon the "Deconstructor".
  • Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (2013) showcases the material in different forms.
  • Kryptonite is one of the foundation elements in Lego Dimensions.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013) features a Kryptonite laser designed as a fail-safe against Superman should he go against humanity. In the alternate timeline, the laser was created by Batman, but he sealed the weapon in the Batcave and programmed the Kryptonite laser to only be accessible when he was accompanied by four other members of the Justice League - Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow and Aquaman - to ensure that he couldn't make the decision to kill Superman himself, requiring him to bring in the heroes of an alternate universe to help him when Green Arrow was killed and the other three joined Superman's team. Although Lex Luthor attempts to deploy the laser against Superman, who is returning from low orbit, Shazam (who is another of Superman's allies) prevents him from firing before Lex is killed by Superman.
  • Gold and Green Kryptonite appear in the story mode of Injustice 2. Firestorm creates a Gold Kryptonite knife for Batman to fight against Superman, and Batman reveals this in the final battle after Brainiac is defeated and Superman prepares to kill Brainiac. Batman manages to get several swipes off Superman, temporarily depowering him before Superman knocks the knife out of his hand. Wonder Woman (still allied with Superman) then recovers the knife and the dagger is not seen again. According to Batman, prolonged exposure to Gold Kryptonite can permanently depower Kryptonians making it the perfect weapon for stopping Superman without killing him. Green Kryptonite is not explicitly mentioned by name, although several of Batman's costume pieces feature luminous green lighting, and one of his moves features a punch with a green crystalline substance that shatters afterward, both heavily implied to be Green Kryptonite. Early in story mode, Batman is shown with a green rope implied to be made of green kryptonite which he tries to bind Superman with after defeating him at Arkham Asylum in a flashback but he is interrupted by Damian who takes the opportunity to switch sides by killing Victor Zsasz. Later in the story, Firestorm with the aid of Prof. Stein manages to generate Green Kryptonite radiation to stop Supergirl from freeing Superman but she manages to resist it long enough to punch him stopping the radiation. In Batman's Story Mode ending after he is defeated by Batman, Superman is weakened by a pair of handcuffs connected to a piece of green Kryptonite though Batman surrounds him with a energy field so Supergirl can speak to Superman before he is imprisoned in the Phantom Zobe without her being effected by the Kryptonite in his restraints. Superman enters the Phantom Zone wearing these handcuffs. These handcuffs also appear in some of Superman's pre-battle intros, where he is shown wearing the cuffs as he speaks to his opponent before managing break out of cuffs. In Bizarro's version of this intro, the green kryptonite is replaced by blue Kryptonite.[original research?]


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



In real life[edit]

The mining group Rio Tinto found an unusual specimen in a mine near Jadar in Serbia, which mineralogist Chris Stanley identified as sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide, an almost inert, white, mostly harmless substance that nevertheless fluoresces a pinkish-orange when exposed to ultraviolet light.[19] Since "kriptonite" already existed as a fictional name, the specimen was called "Jadarite" in honor of the place where the mineral was first found.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Otto Binder (w), Al Pastino (p). "The Curse of Kryptonite!" Superman 130 (July 1959), DC Comics
  2. ^ John Byrne (w), John Byrne (p). "Past Imperfect" Action Comics 591 (August 1987), DC Comics
  3. ^ Horton, Andrew; McDougal, Stuart Y.; Braudy, Leo (1998). Play it Again, Sam: Retakes on Remakes. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 287. ISBN 0520205936. 
  4. ^ Darowski, Joseph J. (2012). The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 32. ISBN 0786489642. 
  5. ^ Jones, Gerard (2004). Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book. New York: Basic Books. pp. 181–183. ISBN 0465036562. 
  6. ^ Bill Finger (w), Al Pastino (p). "Superman's Return to Krypton!" Superman 61 (November 1949), DC Comics
  7. ^ Tippens, Norman (6 December 2000). "Dorothy Woolfolk, Superman Editor". Daily Press. WebCite. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2017. 
  8. ^ Niven, Larry (1971). All the Myriad Ways. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0345334167. 
  9. ^ Cowsill, Alan (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. New York: Dorling Kindserley Publishing. p. 144. ISBN 9780756667429. 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. 
  10. ^ Mark Waid (w), Alex Ross (a). Kingdom Come: 129/4 (1997), New York: DC Comics, ISBN 1563893304
  11. ^ Grant Morrison (w), Frank Quietly (p). All-Star Superman 1 (January 2006), DC Comics
  12. ^ John Byrne (w), Dick Giordano (p). "Games People Play" Action Comics 600: 8 (May 1988), DC Comics
  13. ^ Grant Morrison (w), Frank Quietly (p). JLA: Earth 2: 73/1 (September 2000), DC Comics
  14. ^ Geoff Johns, Richard Donner (w), Adam Kubert (p). "Last Son" Action Comics Annual 11 (July 2008), DC Comics
  15. ^ Staskiewicz, Keith (2 July 2015). "'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice': 6 EW exclusive photos". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2 October 2017. 
  16. ^ Storm, Ian (11 September 2005). "3 Doors Down - The Better Life (album review 4)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2 October 2017. 
  17. ^ "Big Boi Presents...Got Purp?, Vol. 2 - Big Boi, Purple Ribbon All-Stars". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2017. 
  18. ^ "Pocket Full of Kryptonite - Spin Doctors". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2017. 
  19. ^ Christensen, Bill (11 January 2008). "Real Mineral Nearly Identical to Superman's Kryptonite". Live Science. Retrieved 2 October 2017. 

External links[edit]