Superman, the Last Son of Krypton, is an amazing superhero for protecting Metropolis, and an even better man for everything he has managed to overcome. Though he looks perfectly human, Kal-El is actually the last survivor of an advanced alien race, sent across the universe to escape certain destruction. Because we know how well Superman turned out, it’s easy to assume his people were all the same. Too bad we know now that Kryptonians sucked.
They may have been a civilization of gifted scientists, military tacticians, and free thinkers, but Kryptonians were also ignorant, warmongering despots in their own time. The people of Krypton may not be as bad as their racist and xenophobic cousins the Daxamites, but they were pretty awful in their own right. After all, they basically allowed their own people to become all but wiped out from existence.
The next paragraph contains recent Superman comic book SPOILERS!!
In recent events, Jor-El has seemingly returned from the dead to tell his son that Earth never deserved Superman. This one action represents every ugly truth about the Kryptonian people that has been hidden away through time. We may have to learn that Krypton produced Kal-El, but Earth created Superman. Here are the reasons why Kryptonians are actually the worst.
15. IGNORANCE TO SCIENCE
Krypton may have been a world full of scientific advancements, but by the time the planet was ready to blow, many had rejected science for ignorance. The High Council has traditionally been depicted as the ruling body of the Kryptonian people, but when Jor-El told them about the planet’s impending doom, they all considered it blasphemy.
By the time of Krypton’s end, a once great spacefaring people had given up on exploration and understanding in order to entrench themselves on their own world. Kryptonians had become compliant in their way of life, which ultimately proved to be their undoing. Instead of heeding Jor-El’s warning and investigating, it was easy to denounce and ignore him. It proved to be a costly mistake on their part when the sky actually fell.
14. THE CASTE SYSTEM
Kryptonian society would be highly controversial if it existed on Earth in today’s world. The population was divided into a caste system based on profession. These guilds were divided into Religious, Artist, Military, Science and Labor. The first four had representation on the planet’s ruling council, the Labor Guild did not, and were instead treated like lower class citizens.
During the New Krypton saga, Superman decides to live with the newly discovered Kryptonians and is forced to join a Guild. He opposes this system, as it is unfair to many of the people in it, and especially abusive to those in the Labor Guild, who have been worked nonstop since everyone gained powers. It’s only after an open dispute that Labor is granted representation on the council.
13. MILITARISTIC SOCIETY
As much as Krypton embraced science and the arts, they also suffered from an out of control militaristic culture. At the time of the planet’s destruction, it has been mentioned many times before how powerful the military had become under the command of General Zod. We saw in Man of Steel how, just as Krypton was in crisis, Zod led a military coup to take over the Council.
As seen in Superman: World of New Krypton, the military was both an army and a police force for Kryptonian society. Alura had freed Zod from his imprisonment in the Phantom Zone, and he was highly regarded as a military hero, despite his many crimes. She even relied on Zod as a chief advisor at a time where fewer militaristic voices may have been more needed.
12. A MESSED UP PRISON SYSTEM
Krypton’s treatment of their criminals would be considered inhumane by many cultures around our world. Prisoners weren’t sent to prison on Krypton, instead they were banished to the interdimensional Phantom Zone, where they would exist in a ghostlike state during their punishment. Inmates were able to observe the outside world but could not interact with it.
This system was no better than the previous practice, where they would seal criminals inside the capsule of a rocket, secure them in suspended animation, send them into orbit, and slowly reprogram them to be compliant citizens. The Phantom Zone may seem like a preferred method of punishment, but it’s been described as a living hell. It’s disappointing Superman still follows the practice. This also says nothing for the disregard of life when it turns out the Phantom Zone is alive.
11. A SEXIST NAMING CONVENTION
On Krypton, your name is directly related to your sex and family. While most cultures on Earth give children an individual name and a family name, Kryptonians are given different names depending on if they are a boy or a girl. Males have a hyphenated name, like Kal-El, which denotes a first name and family name. Females, meanwhile, have a first name and take their father’s name, like Kara Zor-El.
Modern Western culture typically only have name changes following marriage, and even then it’s presented as a choice. Girls on Krypton were given their name without the ability to make that decision. This means brothers and sisters would basically have different last names. It’s unclear what this means for family identity, but it’s hard to have an individual identity when you’re given your father’s name — then again, the same could admittedly be said about the very Western culture we just cited!
10. USE MIND CONTROL
Mind control is not usually an ability that is associated with heroes because it allows its users to make others do things they don’t want to do. In Supergirl, it is learned that Project Myriad was a Kryptonian mind control project that was developed by Astra in order to give her control over the people of Astro City, and later National City.
Astra and Non aren’t the only Kryptonians who seem to practice mind control. Superman himself has dabbled in it during the events of Superman II. After Lois Lane learns Clark Kent’s secret identity, he kisses her in order to somehow make her forget who he really is. Maybe he’s not exactly controlling her mind, but he is altering her memories and taking part in the same unwanted invasiveness.
9. HATRED OF CLONES
OK, so clones might not exist in the real world, but if they did, the hope is that they would be treated with respect and given a chance to succeed in life. On Krypton, though, clones were hated. In the New 52, it is revealed that Kryptonian society had a cultural taboo related to cloning, and they saw clones as genetically inferior beings.
It’s so bad that Supergirl, who actually lived as a member of Kryptonian society at one point, despised Kon-El for who he was. She actually referred to him as Kon-El, which was a Kryptonian slur meaning abomination. Even H’el (a clone himself) wanted to kill Superboy in order to appease the Kryptonians living on Earth. It’s clear that these people had a lot of hate and distrust in their society.
8. WORLD CONQUERORS
In the Kryptonian age of space exploration, they became world conquerors in order to develop new colonies on other planets. In the comics, Krypton usually wiped out whole populations in order to take control of a new land and use its natural resources. It was only in the colonization of Daxam that they avoided destroying an entire civilization and instead intermingled with the native people.
In Man of Steel, we see that Krypton sent out scout ships in order to find new colonizable worlds, including Earth. They developed terraforming devices known as World Engines to destroy life on new worlds in order to make planets more hospitable. As cruel as this was, they were even crueler to their own people when they abandoned their colonies in space and let them all die out.
7. WAR MACHINES
Over the years, Kryptonian relics have outlasted the Kryptonian people, especially those created by Jor-El himself. Superman has odten had to deal with his father’s war machines, like a giant robot killing machine, a ray gun that turns people to stone, and a magnet that attracts humans.
Other technology was left behind and easily used for evil, like the World Engine from Man of Steel and Brainiac in Smallville. Jor-El even gave his son an artificial intelligence version of himself in Smallville, which proved to be kind of a jerk. You would think that the end of an entire race of people would be the end of their threat to life in the universe, but still their toys and weapons continue to exist long after they were wiped out.
6. KRYPTONIANS ARE RACIST
They aren’t as bad as their Daxamite cousins, but Kryptonians were actually kind of racist in their own right. While most of the people from Krypton seem to be white, ethnic groups did exist, and apparently they were segregated. On Earth, we have continents and countries where many different races come from, but over time we have integrated and mingled with each other. On Krypton, for whatever reason, that never happened.
All black Kryptonians apparently lived on the island nation of Vathlo, which actually existed independently of Krypton’s worldwide government. What was the Kryptonian equivalent of Asian and Latino people seemingly existed on the continent of Twenx. However, for a long time, we never saw these people mix until New Krypton appeared on Earth.
5. SO MANY ARE VILLAINS
There may have been a lot of good people on Krypton at the time of the planet’s explosion, but it seems like just about everyone who survived turned out to be a villain. Sure, you have Superman and Supergirl, but you also have villainous members of society like Jax-Ur and Xa-Du, who were both hated and feared by their people for their numerous crimes. Even Superman’s uncle Zor-El proves to be villainous in Smallville.
This also says nothing about the vast army of Kryptonians that are controlled by the evil General Zod. He and his followers, including Faora, Non and Ursa, have plagued Superman on a number of occasions. Even Superman’s dad is joining the evil Kryptonian game! Of course, any civilization is going to have its black sheep and outright monsters, but it feels like the people of Krypton were disproportionately prone to genocide.
4. PRACTICE EUGENICS
Kryptonians believe in the highly controversial practice of eugenics, where undesirable qualities within their society are weeded out in favor of characteristics deemed more worthy. In Man of Steel, Krypton was seen to have given up on natural births in favor of artificially developed offspring. Machines tend to the maturation of their children and the genetic code of the entire race is held on file.
It is this practice that leads Krypton to become a sterilized civilization that ultimately causes the downfall of the Kryptonian race. Jor-El and Lara go against this system by conceiving Kal-El naturally. In several instances the Kryptonian relic known as The Eradicator has shown up to protect Krypton’s genetic lineage. It deems Jonathan Kent impure because of his human DNA and plans to purge it from him.
3. TERRIBLE DIPLOMATS
For such an advanced civilization, Kryptonians proved to be absolutely terrible diplomats during the New Krypton storyline. When the bottle city of Kandor is returned to full size on Earth, its citizens don’t exactly do a very good job of easing the worries of the planet they just invaded. It’s kind of not that crazy that Earth felt a little threatened by 100,000 Supermen suddenly showing up.
Alura and Zor-El made a halfhearted attempt at playing nice by trying to imprison every super criminal in the world inside the Phantom Zone. Things didn’t go too well when they ended up murdering some cops while rounding up the bad guys. Not even Superman could figure out how both sides could play nice, and General Lane had an easy time taking them apart.
2. CREATED BRAINIAC
Though his comic book origin is largely separate from Krypton, we’ve seen instances where the people of Krypton actually created one of the universe’s most dangerous villains. In an instance of how easily corruptible technology can become, Jor-El’s creation of Brainiac in Smallville ultimately dooms the planet when Zod manages to corrupt its programming in order to destroy Krypton.
Similarly, Brainiac evolves beyond its creators in Superman: The Animated Series and actually alters data so it can escape while Krypton dies. Brainiac’s programming made it value the knowledge of Krypton more than the people. In both instances, the supercomputing AI lives on to terrorize the universe because a few Kryptonian scientists couldn’t help themselves. This careless development of technology ultimately dooms them and harms many others over the years.
1. CARELESS WITH THEIR POWERS
Kryptonians are given immense powers when they are exposed to the light of a yellow sun, but they have a history of abusing those abilities. In Man of Steel, Superman fights Zod’s army without much care for the collateral damage he helps to accrue. Metropolis is nearly leveled by the end of the battle, making it difficult to see exactly what was saved in the end.
When baby Kal-El was rocketed to Earth, his parents knew where they were sending him, and understood what would happen to him there. Jor-El’s hope was for his son to help guide the people of Earth, but he also had no way of knowing who would find him. We’ve seen countless Elseworlds stories about what would have happened if Superman was found by the wrong people.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments why Kryptonians suck.
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