Krypton Is A Good TV Show Because There's No Superman

Superman and Krypton

The greatest superpower Krypton exhibits is ditching Superman himself. The new Syfy prequel series is set approximately two centuries before the infant Kal-El is rocketed to Earth from the doomed planet. So, instead of more Supes, Krypton tells the story of Seg-El, the grandfather of the future Last Son of Krypton, and how the House of El was once disgraced but eventually returned to prominence as the planet is threatened by Brainiac, who time traveled from the future to eradicate Krypton.

From the series' immersive production design, the costumes, and the visual effects, we're definitely not in Kansas (or Metropolis) anymore - and that's a good thing. The intricate world building seen in the pilot alone brings to life a provocatively alien civilization that evokes Syfy's reboot of Battlestar Galactica, David Lynch's Dune, and of course, the opening act of Man of Steel. Krypton also contains elements of Game of Thrones where the lead characters speak with British accents, and the theocratic culture is concerned with the rank and privileges of their prominent and powerful Houses and family dynasties, while the "rankless" people are relegated to slums.

Related: Every Easter Egg In Krypton's Premiere

Of course, Krypton features the famous S shield that symbolizes both "Hope" and the House of El, along with the original incarnation of the Fortress of Solitude. Superman's red cape also makes an appearance, serving as a ticking clock to the story - if the cape disappears completely, the future will be irrevocably changed and Kal-El will have never existed. This familiar iconography aside, though, the Man of Steel is nowhere to be found. In fact, there are no Men of Steel anywhere on Krypton because there is no yellow sun to give anyone powers. Therefore, Krypton doesn't even glance with the story of a boy who learns to use his godlike powers to become a hero, and this rejection of the familiar trappings of a Superman TV series makes Krypton unique and fascinating.

Every Superman adaptation for TV or film has essentially been the same, concerning Clark landing on Earth, raised by the Kents, growing up with the best of human values, and becoming a superhero. Fans saw it in the Christopher Reeve film, for 10 seasons of Smallville, and in Man of Steel. It's a story so familiar, everyone already knows the main beats and the joys are now in the variations. Supergirl also follows the tropes of her cousin's story, just centering it all around Kara Zor-El's point of view.

Cameron Cuffe and Ian McElhinney in Krypton

By eliminating Superman as the focus, Krypton becomes something very different and more compelling; it takes the first chapter of Man of Steel and pushes the narrative backward 200 years so we see the great civilization at its zenith, but also already teetering on the precipice of disaster. This is a very new kind of Superman story: a space opera about the fall and rise of Kal-El's family that's also an epic tragedy because we know, despite everyone's best efforts, Krypton will eventually die so that Superman can be who he is.

Krypton's concept is superior to Gotham or Metropolis, which is planned for the upcoming DC streaming service. That pairs' faulty premise is that everything and everyone in those cities is essentially the same, except for the main superheroes fans actually want to see, who are missing. As a prequel, Krypton is more clever; since Superman naturally doesn't belong in this story, there's no need to awkwardly distort continuity to explain away his absence.

Related: How Krypton's Time Travel Works

Rather, Krypton is poised to explore a world and society very different from ours, unlike anything we're used to yet with some uncomfortable parallels (not dissimilar to Game of Thrones' Westeros). Adam Strange, who essentially serves as an avatar of Clark Kent, appears on Krypton from the future wearing Earth clothes, and he, in turn, becomes the alien. It's an ingenious switch of what fans expect.

Krypton's greatest triumph could be the way it reinforces just how different Superman is compared to the people of his homeworld. Indeed, if Clark Kent ever appears on Krypton, he would be the most alien thing on the planet. What Krypton should ultimately prove is that Superman may have been born there, but he belongs to Earth and is truly ours.

Next: Krypton Isn't In The DCEU - But Was It Meant To Be?

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