“Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” Those words are as iconic and American as baseball, the Moon landing, the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam, or the bald eagle. Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster debuted Superman in 1938, Action Comics #1 creating the archetype for superheros across comics forever. The Man of Steel, The Big Blue Boy Scout, The Man of Tomorrow, The Last Son of Krypton would go on to be imagined and re-imagined in print, radio, television, film, and video games from his inception to the present day. Superman represents hope, truth, justice, and honor but very little is known about his home planet of Krypton. What was it like there, what is the history of The House of El, and why does Superman have the heart of a hero?
Syfy’s new drama, Krypton, attempts to answer those questions. Set 200 years before the destruction of the planet and the birth of Kal-El (Superman), the focus of the story is on a young Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), Kal-El’s grandfather. The story begins with Val-El (Ian McElhinney), Seg’s grandfather, being tried for treason and sentenced to death; stripping the remaining members of the House of El of rank and title, forcing them to live amongst the rankless in their society. The political nature of Krypton is a theocracy governed by the “Voice of Rao”, managed and manipulated by Daron-Vex (Elliot Cowan), the chief magistrate. This technologically advanced society uses genetic testing as a means to bind couples in the most prosperous matches that will be beneficial to Krypton. Their children are born in a birthing matrix and they are assigned guilds to belong to before birth.
The House of El was once prominent members of the Science Guild, Val-El being chief among them. It was his belief that life exists outside of Krypton that made him a traitor. The House of Vex, all belonging to the Law Makers Guild, is featured prominently throughout the pilot with Nyssa Vex (Wallis Day) being chosen by her father to bind with Seg after he heroically stops a terrorist from attacking the Voice of Rao. Nyssa seems like the wild card of the series and Wallis Day’s performance makes her the most intriguing character aside of Seg.
There couldn’t be a history of Superman without a Zod and of course the House of Zod, loyally and fiercely commands the Military Guild. While Lyta Zod (Georgina Campbell) is caught up in a passionate affair with Seg, her mother Jayna (Ann Ognomo) is the General of the Military. Lyta appears caught between her feelings for Seg and her desire to remain loyal to Krypton and her family.
Seg finds himself an orphan by the end of the first episode when both of his parents, Ter-El and Charys-El, sacrifice themselves to save Seg and keep the families Fortress of Solitude a secret. Within the confines of the Fortress is all of Val-El’s research, hidden away from the powers that be. Seg receives a key to the Fortress from a time traveling friend of Superman named Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos). Adam warns Seg that a great threat is coming to Krypton, Brainiac (Blake Ritson), a “collector of worlds”, is determined to destroy the planet preventing Superman from ever being born. He gives Seg a familiar artifact, Superman’s Cape, seemingly enchanted as an hourglass. Much like Marty’s family photo in Back To the Future, once the cape disappears, Superman disappears forever.
There are not enough adjectives to describe how delightful Cameron Cuffe is on and off screen. His performance as Seg draws you in and leaves you rooting for him as strongly as you would Kal-El. As a long time Superman fan, Cameron appears off screen to be as delighted about playing this role as a young child would be meeting Santa Claus for the first time. His eyes sparkle with boyhood wonder every time he’s interviewed, and his knowledge of Superman comics can only serve to enhance his performance. This is the man who will inspire Jor-El and in turn give Kal-El the heart of a hero.
David Goyer and Cameron Welsh have crafted a rich and unique world that feels fresh and new while also being delightfully familiar. Within one episode, you are already completely immersed in this universe and the characters seem like old friends. Seg’s best friend Kem (Rasmus Hardiker) brings us into the world of the rankless with his wit and charm making us feel like we’ve known him and Seg for a long time. Their attention to detail abounds as storefronts and bar signs are written in Kryptonian, the “S” crest figures prominently throughout, iconic statues are featured inside the Fortress, and the exterior shots look almost cinematic in nature. Besides the opening sequence of Man of Steel, the planet Krypton has never looked so good.
An engaging and delightful cast makes the entire experience fun and invigorating. This is a whole new world and I can’t wait to explore it.
Final Verdict: Syfy’s Kypton excels at bringing to life the world of Krypton before the planet’s destruction, before Superman’s conception, before the World knew of the Man of Steel. An exciting new series that’s more than just a Superman prequel; a star is born in leading man Cameron Cuffe.
Krypton airs Wednesdays on Syfy at 10PM EST. Learn more about the series on the official website.