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Krypton premiered on Syfy tonight, and for Superman lovers, this show is pretty much a treasure trove of comic book lore. The one thing it’s not, however, is a prequel.
Set on the planet of Krypton approximately 200 years before Superman’s time in the youth of his grandfather, Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the series focuses primarily on the power struggles and class system of a planet caught between a devout theocracy and immense scientific discovery. Having been stripped of their rank and family name after their patriarch was executed for rebelling against the Voice of Rao (the high priest and head of the theocracy), Seg-El and his parents exist on the lowest rung of the social ladder called The Rankless. Not a great place to be.
At first, Krypton seems to be following the blueprint the Superman comics laid for it so many years ago: a society of technologically advanced people destined to perish in the destruction of their own planet. When a mysterious man claiming to be from the future corners Seg-El to inform him of a threat against his future descendant, Kal-El, the story takes a turn.
Now, maybe the whole story will play out exactly as it did in Superman canon, but any sci-fi nerd worth their salt will tell you that by meddling with the past, this time traveler may have changed the timeline entirely.
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The second that this guy, Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) — he’s a very famous DC Comics character renowned for traveling throughout the universe — arrives back in time, the timeline is changed, Cameron Cuffe explained to TV Guide at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “Everything is possible or impossible at the minute, so really where we are is in this massive crisis in the DC universe. Superman might not come to be. Superman’s saved the universe so many times, so the stakes are as high as they can possibly be… What happened on Krypton really affects the here and now, and we are really willing to go in different directions.”
Beyond the threat against Superman’s very existence, there are also a dozen ways this plan could go sideways.
The more Adam Strange meddles in the past, the more opportunity he creates for the history of Krypton to change. We all know Krypton is destined for destruction — but what if it isn’t? Can that destruction be avoided if events of the past occurred differently? What if Seg-El comes up with a way to avoid the planet’s death? What if he manages to warn more people, creating more evacuees? What if Adam Strange steps on a Kryptonian butterfly and Kal-El comes out a girl instead of a boy?!
The more daunting prospect, of course, is whether meddling with the timeline matters at all. Who’s to say that this isn’t all just one very exhausting time loop, where Adam Strange’s warning ends up being the very cause of Kal-El’s escape from Krypton all along?