It’s not every day that an entire planet blows up. In fact, it’s so rare that even when Krypton’s leading scientific intellect, Jor-El, tried to warn everyone, the government of Krypton still scoffed in his face about it. We can only hope that our own world doesn’t suffer a similar fate, but the planet-wide destruction of Krypton certainly makes a strong case for listening to the scientists — particularly if the scientist in question is Superman‘s dad — when it comes to the threat of massive planetary destruction. Krypton didn’t listen, and now, all of the Kryptonians are dead.
Well… okay, not all of them.
As it turns out, a small handful of people did survive the planet’s explosion, and quite a number of them followed the trail of Kal-El’s rocket and found their way to Earth. The man famously called the “Last Son of Krypton” — since he was born only hours before the destruction of his homeworld — occasionally finds himself saddened by the loss of the family that he never knew. But if the comics are anything to go by, Supes is far from the only survivor of Krypton.
For better or for worse, from parallel realities to different media interpretations, here are 16 Characters Who Survived The Destruction Of Krypton Besides Superman.
16. General Zod
Other than Lex Luthor, there may be no Superman villain as iconic as General Zod, largely due to his presence on the big screen. Terence Stamp’s cool, calculated depiction of Zod in Superman: The Movie and Superman II is still heralded as one of the definitive cinematic villains of all time, and Michael Shannon’s more emotionally volatile version of Zod in Man of Steel helped to firmly cement the character in the public consciousness. Zod’s story has been readapted almost as many times as Superman’s, but a few key basics have always remained.
On Krypton, Zod is the celebrated leader of Krypton’s military, until he instigates a rebellion against the planet’s corrupt government. Though the worthiness of Zod’s initial crusade varies depending on the version of the story, what is consistent is the former general’s powerlust, megalomania, and savagery in pursuit of his goals. This leads to Zod and his companions being sentenced to eternal imprisonment in the Phantom Zone, and upon their escape, they go in pursuit of Earth — and Jor-El’s only son.
One area of controversy in Man of Steel, which was actually true to the comics, is Superman’s killing of Zod. However, while Henry Cavill’s Superman snapped Zod’s neck in a desperate move to prevent more innocent death, the comic book Superman coldly executed Zod and his companions with Kryptonite. Just saying.
Throughout all of DC’s timelines, she’s been identified by many names — Faora, Zaora, and in both the Donner movies and recent comics, Ursa — but no matter what name she wears, Zod’s right hand woman has always been by his side. Faora is defined by her brutality, her ruthless ambition, and her hatred for all men except Zod and Non, with her sentence to the Phantom Zone being not only a result of her alliance with the rebel general, but also because of her violent slaying of 23 Kryptonian men in her own personal concentration camp.
It is eventually revealed that Zod and Faora/Ursa are not just partners but also lovers, and she goes on to mother a child that they name Lor-Zod. However, because of his conception in the Phantom Zone, Lor-Zod exhibits weaker powers than his parents and ages in uncontrollable spurts. These genetic abnormalities are deemed an unforgivable sin in the eyes of his totalitarian, ends-justify-the-means parents, who abuse him and cast him aside. Lor-Zod goes on to become adopted by Clark Kent and Lois Lane, who rename him Chris Kent.
Non was originally introduced as the third part of Zod’s villainous trio in Superman: The Movie, wherein Jor-El refers to him as “a mindless aberration, whose only means of expression are wanton violence and destruction.” In Superman II, Non is the least developed of the three Kryptonian criminals, generally shown to be unintelligent and nonverbal, but highly aggressive.
It wasn’t until 2006, when Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner began writing Action Comics with Geoff Johns, that Non was given a full backstory. It is revealed that, surprisingly, Non was actually a highly intelligent friend of Jor-El, and that it was both he and Superman’s father who discovered Krypton’s impending doom. When Non responds to the Kryptonian Council’s inaction by starting a rebellion, he is lobotomized, thus turning him into the Non that we know today. Though not the man he was before, some degree of tenderness still exists within Non, and he goes on to eventually become a friend to Superman.
Perhaps Krypton’s other most famous survivor other than the Man of Steel himself is Kara Zor-El, currently flying high in the ratings as her show on
CBS The CW enters its second season this coming October. Over the years, Supergirl has had many depictions, with the Post-Crisis Supergirl having no connection to Krypton at all, instead being rewritten as a man-made lifeform named “Matrix.” Traditionally, however, Kara has been depicted as Superman’s cousin, and the last survivor of Krypton’s Argo City.
In more recent years, the Kryptonian version of Kara has been reintroduced and confirmed as Kal-El’s biological cousin, though she’s technically a good deal older than him — it’s just that her escape ship held her in suspended animation. Now, she is physically and emotionally only 16 years old, and attends high school in National City, where she lives with her adoptive parents Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers. The success of the TV show has been tremendously influential on the comic book character, and now that the series is crossing over into the already hyper-popular Arrowverse on The CW, fans should expect to see quite a bit more of Supergirl in the coming years.
Not every survivor of Krypton is made of flesh and blood. The Eradicator, who played a big role in the Reign of the Superman story, is actually a relic of Krypton’s past.
Sent out thousands of years ago by a different alien planet on the brink of extinction, the technology that would one day be called the Eradicator was actually created to preserve the dying alien race’s culture by interacting with other worlds. One of these vessels is sent to Krypton, where it is tampered with by the Kryptonian Kem-L; this corruption changes the AI’s goal into being the preservation of Kryptonian culture, even if it means eliminating all other cultures, and even when it means protecting the Kryptonians from themselves.
Superman eventually discovers the Eradicator in space, and brings the AI back to Earth. Wanting to preserve Superman’s Kryptonian heritage, the eradicator tampers with his psychology to distance him from his earthbound roots, leading to Superman rebelling and throwing the Eradicator into the Sun. After Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday, the Eradicator’s energy reforms into an organic clone of Superman’s body, believing itself to the be the real Superman, back from the dead. The Eradicator comes into conflict with a slew of other would-be Superman replacements, until the real Man of Steel returns. Later on, the Eradicator is revealed to still be conscious within the computers of Kal-El’s Fortress of Solitude.
11. The Kryptonian Apes
Pre-Crisis DC had a lot of weird, wacky stories, back before John Byrne brought the Superman universe back down to earth in his Man of Steel reboot. But one of the weirdest and wackiest aspects of the good ol’ days was the inclusion of non-human Kryptonian survivors who had more than a little in common with some of Earth’s other primates
Out of these, probably the most famous is Beppo, the “Simian of Steel.” One of Jor-El’s test monkeys, Beppo evidently escapes Krypton’s destruction and makes it to Earth with Kal-El, where he too is empowered by Earth’s yellow sun. He shared Supes’ powers, including flight, super strength, enhanced senses, invulnerability, heat vision, and so on. Beppo lives in the jungle for a while, no doubt never being threatened by Earth’s non-super-powered monkey population, until he manages to one day make his way over to Smallville and hang out with the then-teenage Clark Kent. Not surprisingly, Beppo has since been wiped from DC continuity.
But Beppo wasn’t alone. There’s also the Gorilla of Steel, King Krypton, a giant Super-Gorilla who Superman hypothosizes must have been created by Kryptonian science experiments (cue eerie music), and then rocketed away only to land on Earth decades later. After being exposed to Kryptonite, it is revealed that King Krypton is actually just a Kryptonian scientist. Accidentally transformed into a gorilla, he’d hoped that going into space would cure him of his wild condition.
Needless to say, don’t expect to see either of these storylines in a Man of Steel sequel.
10. H’El and his Dragon
However, Post-Crisis DC continuity has introduced plenty of its own Kryptonian survivors. Among these is H’El, who, like Zod in Man of Steel, desires to reignite the lost flames of Krypton, and lays down the red carpet for his arrival with the appearance of what looks like a dragon, but is actually a Kryptonian animal called a Tripodal Curosiananium.
H’El claims to have been sent to Earth by Jor-El many years before Krypton exploded. Trying to form an alliance with Supergirl, H’El confides that his goal is to bring back Krypton — and that his way of doing so is to travel back in time and prevent his planet’s destruction. Unfortunately, his method of doing so doesn’t involve making the Earth spin backwards (a twist ending we’d all rather forget about). Rather, he intends to leech off the power of the sun, draining it, in a procedure that will destroy the entire solar system.
Though Supergirl is at first drawn in by H’El’s promises, she eventually realigns herself with Earth, stabbing H’El with Kryptonite. He is then sent back in time, where he awakens in a cave and is discovered by Jor-El, thereby setting himself up in a permanent time loop.
While Mon-El is not technically from Krypton, he’s certainly Kryptonian in the same way that Americans with Irish descendants call themselves “Irish.” Mon-El, whose real name is Lar Gand, hails from Daxam, a planet populated by the descendants of Kryptonians. Upon their first meeting, Superman initially believed that Lar was his older brother from Krypton — until he proved unweakened in the presence of Kryptonite. However, Lar instead is severely injured by the presence of lead, forcing him to be put into the Phantom Zone in order to stagnate the progression of his lead poisoning.
Mon-El goes on to become an important inspiration to, and later a team member of, the Legion of Superheroes. Though his backstory has been changed up numerous times, his origins as a Daxamite have remained.
Be sure to keep an eye out for this guy in season 2 of Supergirl.
8. Power Girl
Power Girl’s origins can also get a bit confusing, but it basically comes down to this: Power Girl is Kara Zor-L, a version of Supergirl hailing from the alternate reality of Earth Two. She, like the more-famous Supergirl of the DC Universe, survived Krypton’s explosion and came to Earth. Unlike Kal-El and the Kara that becomes Supergirl, Kara Zor-L’s rocket does not hold her in complete stasis, and instead raises her to the age of 18 in a virtual reality environment, resulting in her experiencing a great deal of confusion when she arrives on Earth and attempts to have her first genuine relationships with other living beings. Since finding her way into the DC Universe, Power Girl has gone on to become a member of both the Justice League and the Justice Society of America.
On Earth, Kara assumes the human identity of Karen Starr, the CEO of the New York-based software design company Starr Enterprises. She has since begun using her company to purchase technological designs for interdimensional travel, hoping to someday find a way back to her home universe.
7. Karsta Wor-Ul
A warrior from Krypton’s past, Karsta Wor-Ul and her fellow soldiers used the powers given to them by yellow suns to go out into the galaxy and enforce Krypton’s rules. However, when the Military Council is replaced by the Science Council, and Krypton’s yellow sun-powered soldiers are forcibly retired, many of them go on to become space pirates across the universe. As a result, Karsta is not on Krypton when the planet explodes, and hears of the tragedy from afar. Nonetheless, she loses her husband and many of her friends and allies to anti-Kryptonian enemies.
To protect herself, Karsta flies to Earth and quietly settles down under the assumed name of Kristin Wells, figuring that if any of her anti-Kryptonian enemies try to find her, they will be distracted by Superman long enough for her to escape. However, after seeing Superman’s bravery in fighting back enemy forces, Karsta is inspired to follow his lead and protect the Earth.
When it comes to Kryptonian terrorists who’ve made it to Earth by escaping the Phantom Zone, usually it’s General Zod and Faora who get all of the attention, with Non coming up behind them. They aren’t alone, though: there’s also Jax-Ur, a Kryptonian scientist first introduced in the early 1960s. He was played by Mackenzie Gray in Man of Steel and positioned as the central Phantom Zone criminal in Superman: The Animated Series, though this militant animated depiction had more in common with General Zod than the comic book Jax-Ur.
The brilliant scientist Jax-Ur becomes imprisoned in the Phantom Zone for mass murder after he destroys one of Krypton’s moons, killing all its 500 inhabitants. He is later freed from the Phantom Zone by Zod, for whom he becomes a sleeper agent on Earth, assuming the Earthling identity of Dr. Phillings, a xenobiologist for S.T.A.R. Labs.
5. Thara Ak-Var
A childhood friend of Kara Zor-El, Thara Ak-Var’s parents served in the military under General Zod. She was one of the few Kryptonian survivors, due to the fact that her hometown of Argo City was merged with Kandor and then saved in Brainiac’s collection. Thara grew up to become a chief of security, until she was approached by the religious guild, who believed her to the human personification of the Flamebird, a Kryptonian deity.
Upon coming to Earth, she assumes the role of Flamebird, partnering with Chris Kent (the son of Zod and Ursa), who becomes Nightwing. Together, the two of them attempt to unearth Zod’s sleeper agents while trying to disguise their own Kryptonian backgrounds. Later on, when Lex Luthor and General Sam Lane turn Earth’s sun red, depowering all of the Kryptonians and causing many to die, Thara realizes that in order to save all of the surviving Kryptonians, she must unleash all of her Flamebird powers within the sun’s heart… which she does, sacrificing herself so that the others may live.
4. The Bottled Population of Kandor
While most of the above survivors got out of their world’s destruction through Phantom Zone imprisonment and last-minute rocket rides, most of the last survivors of Krypton actually made it out for another reason: they got trapped in a bottle.
One of the major Pre-Crisis storylines that has since been reincorporated into modern continuities, the city of Kandor is Krypton’s capital… until Brainiac comes along and shrinks it, storing it in a bottle, along with numerous other cities around the universe that he has also shrunken and collected. In Post-Crisis continuities, Kandor is not literally shrunken, but instead stored in extradimensional space.
But whether the city of Kandor is in a bottle or not, the gist is the same: due to Brainiac, its population survives Krypton’s explosion, and is held hostage aboard Brainiac’s ship until Superman rescues it. Upon bringing Kandor to the North Pole, the city expands and all of its inhabitants are released, resulting in 100,000 new beings living on Earth, all of them empowered by Earth’s yellow sun. When anti-Kryptonian resentment brews on Earth, the leaders of Kandor migrate their population onto an entirely new world, which they name New Krypton.
In other (possibly more bizarre) iterations, the bottled city has been stored away in his shrunken form in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
And now, this brings us to the one who started all this bottled city business to begin with: Brainiac, one of Superman’s deadliest foes, and probably his most notable villain who has yet to appear on the big screen. Though Brainiac’s origins have fluctuated wildly from one medium to another — with dozens of retellings in the comics that depict the character as anything from an alien being from Yod-Culu to a swarm of Borg-like technological units with a shared consciousness — many recent media depictions of the character have drawn the most influence from his depiction in Superman: The Animated Series, which places the character’s roots on Krypton.
In the show, he is shown to be Krypton’s supercomputer, the advanced artificial intelligence responsible for handling most of the planet’s day to day information, technology, and processes, with a knowledge base that includes the entirety of Krypton’s scientific and historical progress. When Jor-El warns Brainiac of Krypton’s impending cataclysm, Brainiac reasons that the explosion is inevitable, so instead of telling the Kryptonian government about the truth in Jor-El’s claims, he instead works to save himself, assimilating his consciousness into a satellite and escaping before the explosion.
Downloading himself into an array of artificial bodies, Brainiac begins moving through the universe, discovering new worlds, absorbing their information, and then destroying them, which eventually brings him into conflict with Superman. We expect something similar could happen on the big screen in the near future.
Doomsday is a character most famous for being the villain who finally killed Superman, but he’s also a character with very deep Kryptonian roots. Though the cinematic version of Doomsday was Kryptonian in nature, the comic book Doomsday’s story goes all the way back to Krypton’s earliest days.
In one take on the character in the comics, Doomsday is actually a prehistoric creature from ancient Krypton, long before Kryptonian culture as we know it came to exist. In these ancient times, Krypton’s surface was harsh, toxic, and almost impossible for humanoids to survive upon. To overcome this, a scientist named Bertron created a humanoid baby in his lab, and then put it out into the environment. Though the infant immediately died, the scientist then collected the infant’s remains, cloned the infant, and put it out to die again. This was done over and over again, as every new clone of the baby became stronger than the last, each one collecting the pained memories of the previous clone, until finally, a creature was created that could survive anything that was put against it — a creature that would one day, many centuries later, come to Earth and slay its greatest hero.
But to finish on a lighter note, let’s not forget that monkeys and dragons aren’t the only Kryptonian animals who made it out alive. Back in those wacky Pre-Crisis days, there was also a Super-Dog from Krypton!
In these early stories, when Jor-El is sending out test rockets like the one he eventually uses for his son, he sends one out with the family dog inside it. Though this rocket is knocked off its course, it eventually finds its way to Earth, where it is reunited with an older Kal-El. Like the Super-Monkey, Krypto possesses many of the same powers as Superman. It’s silly stuff, but believe it or not, an alternate version of Krypto made it to Post-Crisis comics as well. Krypto even made it into an episode of Smallville, and in 2005, he was the star of a 2006 cartoon series Krypto the Superdog, which lasted two seasons.
One thing’s for sure: when it comes to Super-Pets, none of the others — and few of the other surviving Kryptonian humans, for that matter — have had the staying power of this little white dog in a red cape. All hail Krypto!
Do you know anyone else who survived the destruction of Krypton? Sound off in the comments.