Creators of the upcoming Syfy series Krypton were on hand at DC’s pop-up SXSW store this weekend to share what fans can expect from a Superman TV show, which doesn’t actually include Superman himself.
For those living under a rock, Krypton is a prequel series set about 200 years before the explosion of the planet Krypton, which comic geeks will know is the event that led to baby Kal-El to be sent off in a rocket headed for Earth. As such, the show will focus on Superman’s grandfather Seg-El, father Jor-El, and a smattering of characters from the greater DC universe. And since the planet Krypton orbits a red sun, Kryptonians won’t exactly have the sort of powers we’re used to seeing in Metropolis, so to speak. Still, Krypton’s show creators explained that this makes for fertile ground when it comes to storytelling.
“What makes it an important story to tell now is when [Superman is] not there, we feel his absence,” said the show’s Executive Producer Cameron Welsh (Constantine). “Part of what we do in Krypton is explore what would happen if Superman was never born. While we don’t have the character of Superman, we do explore his legacy, the foundations of that legacy, the House of El, and how it came to be defined.”
Welsh went on to explain that while everyone is probably familiar with Krypton, it’s still been relatively unexplored, giving them lots of room for world-building. It’s also important, he said, to capture the essence of what makes a hero like Superman tick. “What are the traits and values you need to instill someone to become Superman,” Welsh added. “It’s not just his bloodline, it’s about the way they lived.”
While doing a prequel usually means you go into the story knowing how it ultimately ends, Krypton writer Lina Patel said that there are other ways to raise the stakes — most notably with time travel being one aspect fans can expect.
“The opportunity to time travel gives us a lot of creative freedom,” Patel said. “Literally anything can happen, and it keeps our story focused on the present day Krypton and what’s happening to our characters in that world.”
And as this is a comic book TV series, you can bet Krypton will be peppered with cameos and regular characters you may recognize from the greater DCU. One of those is Adam Strange, who will fulfill the role of alien from another planet that’s usually filled by Clark Kent. Also included will be members of the House of Zod, the relatives of Superman bad guy General Zod, as well as Doomsday. (Doomsday!)
But from what I could tell, the Superman villain that the show creators seemed the most enthusiastic about is Brainiac, which Krypton writer Nadria Tucker said “looks fantastic.” This is also the first live-action representation of the character. (I guess technically you could kind of count Brainiac-5 aka “Brainy,” the Legion of Super-Heroes member now appearing on the CW’s Supergirl series.)
“We made a choice in how we wanted to do Brainiac, and what would work best given the TV budget [while] also giving the fans a version of the character they deserve,” Welsh said.
Personally, I’m pretty excited that we’re finally starting to get some depth added to what were previously supporting or barely mentioned characters that orbit Superman’s backstory in live-action form.
Krypton will make its television debut March 21 on Syfy.