The Fall of Krypton, Episode By Episode

Looper says that a Krypton TV show is doomed to failure because:

  1. Prequels are inherently pointless
  2. We already had 10 years of a dumb Superman prequel called Smallville
  3. Its connections to the DC Universe are weak, at best
  4. Krypton is literally the least interesting part about Superman
  5. Spoiler Alert: Krypton explodes!

Image by elbragon

Image by elbragon The Fall of Krypton, Episode By Episode

I pretty strongly disagree. Given that three of the five objections are objections to prequels, though, that might be the main source of the disagreement. I think knowing where something is headed can make something more enjoyable, as you watch it unfold. It requires a different sort of storytelling, but that Krypton explodes is no more spoilery than that Oliver Queen will find his way out of his current predicament, whatever it is. The only difference is whether it is explicit about knowing the ending, and being explicit can open narrative doors. The story is how you get there, not where you get.

Is Krypton the least interesting thing about Superman? I tend to think that Superman himself is the least interesting thing about Superman. Metropolis is interesting, the Daily Planet is interesting, and even Clark Kent is interesting. Superman himself is pretty inherently dull. This is why Superman is best used as an ancillary character in someone else’s story. Krypton has the advantage of being relatively uncharted territory. It’s more of a blank slate, apart from comics.

I do think the lack of tie-in with the DC Universe can be potentially troublesome. Not because it needs to be, but because there is always the tendency of writers to try to create tie-ins. Arrow and The Flash are replete with examples of using existing other characters just because they can. Sometimes it is used to good effect, but other times it creates problems because when they later have an actual use for the character, they’ve already burned it. So when they need Black Canary, they have to start with someone that isn’t Dinah Laurel Lance.

This was a huge problem in Hawkworld, a comic book series that was meant to be a prequel to Hawkman. The story featured future Hawkman Katar Hol as a police officer on Thanagar. Except that they wanted to be able to do crossovers, so they fiddled with continuity to such a degree that they never really recovered from it. The existing Katar Hol on earth was changed to a Thanagarian spy. It was a real stretch and Hawkman became notorious as having the worst continuity this side of Power Girl.

But on the whole, I think it can work artistically if not commercially. If that’s the case, it’ll be a lot like Caprica, the prequel to Battlestar Galactica which which Krypton would share a great deal in common.


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10 thoughts on “The Fall of Krypton, Episode By Episode

  1. it can work artistically if not commercially. If that’s the case, it’ll be a lot like Caprica, the prequel to Battlestar Galactica which which Krypton would share a great deal in common.

    I liked Caprica quite a bit, and was sad it didn’t make it. If Krypton goes a more sci-fi route, it could pick up viewers like me who are mostly-indifferent to Superman (see Marvel’s success with things like Agent Carter).

    Prequels are inherently pointless

    Fargo S2 is sort of a prequel to S1, in that it takes place in similar locales years earlier, and shows events and characters that were shown or alluded to in S1, and it rules.

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  2. I’m just confused as to what, exactly they’ll be doing.

    From what I understand, this is not a lead up to ‘Krypton blowing up’…this is hundreds of years before.

    So you not only don’t have the rest of the DC universe(1), you don’t have the *actual Kryptonian* things that people know. You can’t have Jor-El, you can’t have Zod, I’m pretty sure you can’t have Brainiac (Not sure how old it is?), you can’t have ‘Planet going to explode and the government doesn’t care’ drama.

    You also, of course, don’t get any superpowers.

    And Krypton, despite the ‘government so dumb they don’t bother to do anything about the explodey planet’, was…halfway to a utopia. Maybe not as much hundreds of years before that, but I’m still having trouble figuring any of this out.

    Is this going to be space opera or something?

    1) Actually, the DC universe is big enough that there probably was *some* earth superhero operating whenever this was set. It’d be some guy no one had ever heard of, though.

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  3. It’d depend, basically, on what the point is.
    IIRC Krypton has been a stand in for all kinds of ideologies over time.
    -It’s been a showcase of what happens when a technological society becomes so estranged from its world that its world literally becomes poisonous to it.
    -It’s been a cautionary tale of eugenics or severing reproduction from parenthood.
    -It’s been a cautionary tale of militarism/fascism

    Hmm now that I think on it Krypton is mostly just a “watch out, technology is scary” kind of place.

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    • The biggest one missing is just the, “Hey, technology is awesome” aspect it has in the pre-crisis comics, and to a varying degree, in the post-crisis comics as well.

      There are two versions of paradise: The garden of Eden and the Singularity. Eden is a paradise because mankind has the potential to be good and therefore the world was good until it was messed up by new-fangled ideas and technologies that got in the way of our potential. The Singularity is a paradise because mankind has the potential to be good and therefore the world will be good once technology solves all the problems that keep us from achieving our potential.

      One of the ways superman is interesting is that he’s equally a child of Eden and the singularity. I think the best version of a “Krypton” prequel is one that intercuts thematically related stories of Jor-El and Lara on Krypton and Jonathan and Martha in Smallville.

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  4. Has there ever been a show about aliens (not with lots of aliens in a story with humans at the center, but about aliens, where humans, if present, are peripheral) that has ever succeeded at the level of success we’d recognize as “success” here? At least, where they’re not doing everything they can to fit in among humans, as humans (Third Rock)?

    I guess this wouldn’t have to be that show, but I’d consider it a little bit of a copout if a show “about Krypton” turned out to be about humans and/or Earth.

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    • Has there ever been a show about aliens (not with lots of aliens in a story with humans at the center, but about aliens, where humans, if present, are peripheral) that has ever succeeded at the level of success we’d recognize as “success” here?

      As was pointed out, Caprica tried to be this. It failed, but it failed for a lot of reasons, so I’m not sure what we can take from that failure.

      Also, technically speaking, both Caprica-ians (?) and Kryptonians are, uh, barely aliens.

      I don’t just mean the ‘look completely human’ thing. They have no special abilities, and their society is pretty damn recognizable…hell, their society is pretty damn modern *Western*.(1) Sure, they wear crazy clothing with high collars, and their buildings are weird, but it’s…here.

      I’ve been watching Supergirl, and noticing the oft-forgotten part of that mythos, or at least one I had never really considered…Superman grew up entirely on earth, and doesn’t remember Krypton at all. But Supergirl was *a teenager* when she came here. In the TV show, she was ’13’, although God knows what they mean by that.(2) She *knows* that society. And…she doesn’t seem to have any huge culture shock, not even in the flashbacks when she just got here. She’s upset that everyone she knows died, sure, but there’s not any weird cultural things ever mentioned, stuff that would happen if a US teenager was, for example, to move to *China* in real life.

      ‘Alien’, here, is just an excuse. It’s a trick to put the story in the near-future, but completely disregarding actual human history by saying ‘It’s some other planet, and they’re not humans’.

      It is, in an odd way, sorta the inverse of the ‘fake medieval fantasy’ setting, which puts the story in the past, except not the *real* past.

      1) Note: I never saw Caprica, but I did see BSG.

      2) Seriously, who did that math? Krypton’s year can’t possibility be identical to Earth’s.

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      • …I have no idea why I forgot that.

        Yes, BSG is, probably, the longest-running show starring ‘aliens’.

        And their universe was even *more* Earth-like, being very military and identical to Earth militaries, and deliberately set up where they *didn’t* have technological advancements. (They used to be ’20 minutes in the future’ with computers and AIs, but had gotten rid of them with the Cylon war, to the point they were *behind* us, tech speaking, and barely had networked computers.)

        So the only TV show we can think of with ‘aliens’ that succeeded is one that is literally indistinguishable from ‘humans from the 90s with spaceships’.

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