There is no denying it; Marvel is winning the blockbuster movie wars. Even with two to three studios working on Marvel titles, which range from pretty good to amazing, Marvel’s commitment to quality is keeping it ahead of the curve. DC is still a new challenger with lots of potential.
However, in terms of live-action TV, DC seems to have the lead. Arrow and Flash have legions of fans and amazing ratings. Gotham, for all it’s non-Batman-ness, gets a good amount of ratings and fans as well. Constantine, surprisingly true to its main character, is not dead yet.
Marvel has Agents of SHIELD, which at its best is an above-average high tech procedural, since it seems to (unlike the movies) embrace the very large universe it belongs to. The Arrow and Flash-verse embraces that. Even Gotham, in its isolated universe, seems to revel or play around with it. Sure, the Netflix miniseries dedicated to the Marvel denzines of Hell’s Kitchen seems promising, but for now, like Marvel is in the movie game, DC’s doing pretty well.
I first thought it was a joke, like that YouTube video that parodies “Before Gotham” and “Before ‘Before Gotham.'” I mean, Smallville, was the prototypical series at the start of the hero’s journey. There was even an Arthurian and Robin Hood BBC shows that followed that premise. How do you out-prequel Smallville? Essentially, it’s like that “Before Gotham” joke. It could even be the “Before ‘Before Gotham'” joke, since the press release said it was not even about Jor-El, but about “The Man of Steel’s Grandfather,” Seyg-El, if it is Jor-El Father (Starman #50-51).
Then, a rare moment happened, and I started thinking.
Having Krypton occur so far from Earth and so many years apart from some “Age of Heroes,” could be one of two things. First, it could be an amazing way for writer and creators to play around the universe, without touching DC’s crown jewel, which is Superman. Second, it could introduce the audience to an amazing cosmic opera that links DC’s space-based properties together.
Here’s a list of potential things that could very well be amazing contents that Krypton carry.
1) The usual suspects, in a Smallville-like setting. We get younger Jor-El, Zod, Zod’s cronies, and possibly Kara (since she came to Earth already a teen or adult, right?). They could be the focus or supporting case to Superman’s grandfather.
2) Brainiac, as a recurring threat. We see Brainiac be nigh-impossible to completely stop or kill during Superman’s lifetime. We even see hints that there is Brainiac in some form or another during the Legion of Super Heroes future, in the form of the organic Brainiac 5.
3) John Byrne-esque’s Cold, Sterile Krypton. Since images and ideas form the movies seem to copy and replicate itself in small screen versions. The Man of Steel‘s Krypton is very similar to John Bryne’s late 80s Superman reboot as a cold, sterile Krypton where emotions are almost absent.
4) Daxamites, an off-shoot race of Kryptonians, have been an interesting notion that has yielded interesting results in the pages of Superman, Green Lantern, and the Legion of Super Heroes. Basically, depending on the version you look at, Daxamites are former Kryptonians who have been away from their home planet long enough (or through birth chambers) to be different from Kryptonians in key ways, such as gaining powers from red stars instead of yellow, and a vulnerability to lead instead of Kryptonite, but very similar to Kryptonians when manifesting their “powers.” These people can be written in various roles as they are related to Krypton. Perhaps, an iteration of Daxamites gain powers from being exposed to the Krypton’s Red sun. It could very well be that Krypton can have its own heroes, and the writers would have carte blanche to make these their own.
5) Nightwing and Flamebird. If Krypton can have their own superheroes in the form of alien Daxamites, maybe another set of heroes that can be explored are the Nightwing and Flamebird legacies. Of course, these are not the ones from Kandor that we have seen in the comics, but perhaps, they could be part of a longer, older legacy of Kryptonian heroes.
6) The Green Lantern Corps. Sodan Yat is a Daxamite and a Green Lantern. Details can be change and rewritten, like how much of the Galaxy/Universe the GL Corps has Jurisdiction over, or whether or not the Daxamites are hungry for conquest or are xenophobic. Either way, Sodam Yat serves as a continuity link, or creative spark to create this facet of DC’s cosmic opera.
7) The Anti-Matter Universe and/or Earth 3’s dimension. The Phantom Zone technology is already something with which the Krptonians are associated. How about that technology leading to other parallel dimensions? I know Earth 3’s Ultraman is not someone from their version of Krypton, but that just gives their version of Krpton more potential for amazing creative breakthroughs.
8) Thanagarians, Rannians, Czarnians, etc. I know it’s cheap and crass, but DC could very well be just following Guardians of the Galaxy in this regard: it will expose the audience to a sampling of the much larger cosmic universe in one show and DROP AS MANY COSMIC LOCALES AS POSSIBLE. There could be these warrior people with wings, or these Zeta tubes being used to transport, or these people called the Czarnians who have each citizen do for the whole planet what they do best (geez, how ever could that backfire?!). perhaps a less obvious idea would be a comparison to the cosmic-related-everything DC crossover, the Rann-Thanagar War, which personally got me interested in a lot of DC’s cosmic storylines.
9) The New Gods. DC’s The Fourth World, or as some people will recognize it Darkseid, Orion, Apokolips, New Genesis, Anti-Life Equation, etc. etc…. it is a very special and albeit isolated part of the DC Universe. When it has appeared in other shows, there’s some serious extra-spacial or extra-dimensional hap-nin’ going on, but in a Krypton show, where New Genesis and Apokolips could be relevant enough to make them regular or semi-regular parts of the series, a new generation of fans will see how awesome these characters are or, I suppose, will see a younger Highfather, Darkseid, and other New Gods and Darkseid’s Elite. Besides, the Third Season of Young Justice was going to have a Fourth World Saga, maybe those fans are eager to explore that world!
10) The Starman story “Midnight at the House of El.” And then, there is that snake-eating-its-tail story. In the pages of Starman #51, various characters from the Jack Knight Starman title are looking for someone, travelling through time and space, only to stop by Krypton and meet a young Jor-El and his father. Yes, we have seen the character who is going to be in Krypton in comics before (if it’s from the father side, the El side). In the end of the story, what do ya know, Starman suggested a star and a planet for them to point their little rocket with a baby Kryptonian to. I know it’s a longshot, but maybe this can be a series or a season ender, or some sort of bookend deal to close the series. After all, Seyg-El (if they’re using him) would be older as Jor-El would be an adult at that point.
John Garcia is a Professor of English, specializing in popular culture, comparative literature, and postcolonial studies. He is also an artist and character designer for Smorgasbord Productions.