Very few people questioned the viability of Krypton more than I did. When it was announced, I bemoaned it just as a Superman-flavored version of Gotham, designed to have all of the same issues & problems. The most significant of these issues is of course: who wants to wade through multiple seasons to see The Man of Steel – the single most important character – finally make his appearance?
Still, Krypton showed us several things that we may not have considered. First, that there is a deeper story to be told. Second, that the heroics of Kal-El’s predecessors have value & merit on their own. And finally, that even well-established villains with a history in Superman canon can be re-examined and re-invented. All of this came together to take my initial criticism, and flip it completely on its head. In two seasons, Krypton was more imaginative and inventive than ninety percent of any active shows on right now (it’s hard to beat Black Mirror). I’ve gone from railing against it, to hoping that Krypton finds a new home following its untimely cancellation on SYFY.
Nothing comes from the Void; everything comes from something. In that one statement lies the genius of Krypton. The traditional take is that Superman’s inspiration for his heroics comes from his fathers – Jor-El and Jonathan Kent. Krypton, however, introduces us to Val-El and Seg-El; Superman’s great-grandfather and grandfather respectively. In Man of Steel, Russel Crowe gave us an heroic Jor-El. A man without superpowers, but who remains an influential and powerful force in Kryptonian society. Krypton takes this an extra step by giving us Seg-El (played by Cameron Cuffe), who survives by his wits as a member of the disgraced house of El. Over the first season, Cuffe gives viewers a character with all the courage & conviction of Superman, as he goes up against threats that have even challenged Superman when he’s at full strength (i.e. Brainiac). Seg-El’s compassion and morality remind us that those are Superman’s best qualities as well.
Surprisingly, Krypton was able to add to the Superman mythos. Considering that the Man of Steel has been around for more than eighty years, that’s impressive. One of the ways in which this is very apparent, is Seg-El’s romance with Lyta-Zod. The revelation that the child born of this union grows up to be General Zod (Colin Salmon) transforms the future relationship between Zod & Kal-El. No longer are they simply the last survivors of Krypton’s destruction, but we now see them as uncle and nephew. This single addition to the Superman story will probably be Krypton‘s enduring legacy.
We know that sci-fi shows are expensive to produce, and that they frequently struggle to survive their initial seasons. So, it should come as no surprise that SYFY opted to cancel this one. However, if Epix can continue to have a series based on what Alfred Pennyworth was doing before Bruce Wayne was born, there should be a home for Krypton somewhere. Here’s hoping that there’s some good news for Krypton fans soon.