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!

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. Or maybe it will suck artistically, with Krypton’s fall being an over-the-top metaphor with what the writers think is wrong with the Earth. I worry about that a lot more than I do already knowing the ending.

Category: Theater

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One Response to Like Kryptonite To Bad Television

  1. I’m very far out of the loop when it comes to superhero fiction and all, but I think I agree. I didn’t really watch Smallville–I saw a few episodes, but that’s all–and I remember really liking the premise, especially the thread about Clark and Lex Luther being friends when they were young. Again, I saw only a few random episodes, so maybe the execution wasn’t all it could have or should have been, but I like the idea.

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