TCA 18: SYFY Tries to Erase Superman in ‘Krypton’

SYFY’s new pre-Superman series Krypton has been kept under wraps for some time now, but more details were finally revealed when the trailer dropped at the TCA panel on Tuesday. The show revolves around Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the man who would be Kal-El’s grandfather, and the decision between saving his planet or securing his grandson’s future. The actor was joined onstage by producers David S. Goyer and Cameron Welsh, as well as by DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns.

How much can you change the future – and should you try to?

As previously discussed, the easiest question to ask when it comes to Krypton is how the story will remain interesting when everyone knows the outcome. But as Goyer teased, “History could be changed, and what happens in this show could be very different than the sort of backstory that most people know.”

When it comes to the specific tone of the show as set by the trailer, a few critics noticed the Detroit Tigers hat that Adam Strange wore in the trailer – and the discussion turned to Superman’s Midwestern roots and how that is still reflected long before his birth on his home planet light years away. “That’s probably why we wanted Adam Strange to kind of be from a grounded place like Michigan,” Johns explained. “Because it gives him a little more, I guess, normalcy and the Midwestern ethic that Superman has.” Welsh added, “In a naive world, Adam Strange gets to become a proxy for the audience in a lot of ways.  He’s probably the most relatable character in that sense.”

Krypton has been in development much longer than most series, but Goyer points to his unique and challenging vision as well as a significant special effects budget as reasons for the delay. “Frankly, the post-production period is almost double that of your average show. It just takes a long, long time. My youngest son, who is three, wasn’t born yet when we started this thing.” They also chose to shoot in Europe rather than Vancouver in order to do justice to the look of Superman’s homeworld, Johns added. “We wanted this to have a very different, specific look. It’s also on an alien world, so we’re not going to see cityscapes that you would normally see in other shows.”

Cuffe clearly has the El genes.

For actor Cameron Cuffe, the challenge lies more in playing Superman’s grandfather and all the baggage that comes with such iconic lineage. “As far as the pressure playing the role, it’s a good thing,” he gushed, “It’s something that keeps you grounded. I, as a fan, know exactly what is riding on this. I know what that symbol means. It’s just a joy. Yes, there’s pressure, but that’s something that keeps you grounded and keeps you humble and makes you remember how lucky you are to be working on something like this.”

He’s not alone in feeling the weight of the DC legacy they’re playing with, though. Goyer delved into his own thoughts regarding how personally fans relate to the superheroes they love. “I think it’s important to take that into consideration when we’re doing ‑ so every ‑ even the smallest decision is something that you really think about carefully.” Given the divisive reactions to DC’s recent output, that’s even truer when it comes to Krypton‘s new take on the Superman story.

The House of El has fallen on hard times when the story starts, and the producers described how that factored into the story and would even lead to some history lessons for longtime fans. “Krypton explores how that S really gains its meaning, where that meaning comes from,” Johns said. “Because we start in a place where it actually is this symbol of shame.” Welsh expanded on that point, mentioning how “Cam’s character [has] been disconnected from that symbol, from the House of El, everything that it meant. So he gets to make all of those discoveries, and we sort of get to ride along with him as he does that.”

Goyer also informed critics that more of space and time will be explored throughout the series than the title implies. “The Phantom Zone figures into this show, which means we can definitely go into other times and other planets eventually.” Johns added even more fuel to the fire, saying, “If the fans have read it in Mystery in Space, it will probably end up in our show[…] We were talking about the Omega Men earlier.” The desire to pull out all the sci-fi stops also inspired the choice to use Adam Strange, seeing as he’s known for his adventures on other planets besides Earth.

Krypton premieres March 21st on SYFY.