But here’s the thing. Krypton‘s central conceit is a little self-defeating. Superman is exciting because of the wonderful powers he can use to thwart evil. He gets the powers from the chemical reaction between Earth’s yellow sun and his alien body. Krypton offers up an entire planet of supermen but without the powers. Because of this catch, the pilot episode of Krypton offers up a lot of high-minded science fiction jargon, without very few brain-breaks in between.
The History of House El
But buried beneath that thick, thick layer of sci-fi sounds, which could turn some viewers off, is a really interesting show. In just the first episode, the show manages to tee up enough mystery, intrigue, and conflict to carry well beyond the end of the first season. If the next few episodes can find a more even footing, Krypton could be around for years to come.
Without diving too deep into the nitty-gritty, the plot of the show is simple. Adam Strange, a hero from DC comics, has traveled from modern day Earth to Krypton, 200 years ago. The impetus for this decision is plain enough. The villainous Brainiac is on a warpath across the universe, headed for Superman’s homeworld. If he destroys Krypton in the past, then Superman will never exist in the future. Adam Strange has to warn Seg-El that Brainiac is coming, and stop him before he destroys the planet.
The unfortunate side of that is that there isn’t really anything that makes Krypton feel like a “Superman” show. The world Goyer built could be an alien planet in any science fiction story. Aside from the Crest of House El (Superman’s “S”) and great use of John Williams’ classic Superman theme, nothing specifically marks the show as a superhero or comic book story.
But maybe that’s the idea. It’s possible that, as all our entertainment becomes ever more saturated with comic book IP, audiences are happy to let those specifics go. But if DC, Warner Bros., and SyFy want Krypton to be a Superman show, then it needs to feel like a Superman show. Even if that’s just in something as simple as the way our hero lives his everyday life. Without that specificity, then it would’ve been better to take this exciting and complex planet, give it a different name, and make it an entirely new property.
Becoming A Hero
That final scene is a good analogy for the show. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a pilot. Pilots exist to sell you on a concept. And this one sells Krypton. Now the next few episodes need to grow into something truly exceptional. The list of superhero shows on TV today is too long to run through here. If Krypton wants to stand out, it’s going to need to grow into something fantastic. The pilot episode provides it with the foundation to do that. Krypton has taken its first few steps. But it can’t waste any time getting off the ground if it wants to soar.
Krypton airs on Wednesday nights at 10 pm on SyFy.