DC TV is in a strong place right now, and fans are watching with curiosity as Syfy works to expand the DC TV slate. Their first DV TV project is Krypton, which tells the story of events on Superman's homeworld two generations before Krypton's ultimate fate.
Over the weekend, Syfy cast British actress Georgina Campbell (of After Hours fame) as Lyta Zod. An ancestor of classic Kryptonian villain General Zod, like her descendant Lyta is a soldier; she's the daughter of a general, Alura Zod. Perhaps more intriguingly, Lyta - who will be the lead female role — is in a secret romance with the male lead, Seg-El, Superman's ancestor.
Who Is Georgina Campbell?
An English actress, Georgina Campbell is making her way over to Hollywood step-by-step. British viewers will remember her for her performance in One Night and Murdered By My Boyfriend; the latter role earner her Best Actress in the British Academy Television Awards 2015!
She gained popularity through Sky's After Hours, and recently starred in the short thriller miniseries One of Us. A move to Syfy would be a huge step forward in her career, especially if this superhero-inspired science-fiction show proves a success...
What's Krypton All About?
Krypton follows in the footsteps of Fox's Gotham, which reveals the backstory of Batman's city and his greatest enemies (although it's pretty much diverging from established continuity now). In truth, though — because Kryptonians don't possess super-powers in the atmosphere of their own homeworld — Krypton isn't a superhero adventure. It's simply a science-fiction story, loosely inspired by the world of Superman's origin.
As a sci-fi adventure, Krypton's success won't hinge on how many supervillains it can make a nod to; the setting precludes many characters and concepts being added into the mix. Instead, it has to work as a series in its own right. Thankfully, the meagre details show real promise.
It's pretty clear that Krypton will strive to create a more thoroughly developed world than we've ever seen in the comics. David S. Goyer and Damian Kindler seem to have envisioned the world as caste-based; so the Zods are part of the military caste, while the Els have been brought up in the scientist caste.
Digging Deeper into the World of Krypton...
Caste-based societies are always fascinatingly complex, and they're always centered around one concept: honor. Honor is easily the most cherished value in caste-based cultures, and every action is judged by its influence on honor; families gain and lose honor through money, power, and conduct. What little we know so far suggests that Superman's ancestor, Seg-El, has somehow brought dishonor upon his family; he's striving to regain the family honor, while also warning of an impending disaster.
The addition of a romantic female lead from another house brings a fascinating new element to Krypton, though. At first glance it seems like a 'Romeo and Juliet' concept, but actually it's much more complex than that; Lyta Zod would be entering into a relationship with a man who has been subject to dishonor. Should their relationship be made public, Lyta Zod's actions would bring shame and dishonor to the House of Zod.
If Krypton really wants to go all-out with the concept of honor, it's worth casting an eye to the example of India. There, intercaste marriages may be legally acceptable, but are viewed as dishonorable. As the New York Times reported:
"Intercaste marriages are protected under Indian law, yet social attitudes remain largely resistant. In a 2006 survey cited in a United Nations report, 76 percent of respondents deemed the practice unacceptable. An overwhelming majority of Hindu couples continue to marry within their castes, and newspapers are filled with marital advertisements in which parents, seeking to arrange a marriage for a son or daughter, specify caste among lists of desired attributes like profession and educational achievement."
In traditional Indian caste culture, women are essentially seen as repositories of honor as daughters, wives and mothers. The role of the man is to regulate and control the woman's conduct, ensuring it remains honorable. Unfortunately, with traditional Indian culture now clashing with the 'modernized' cast-ambivalent culture of younger generations, things are getting out of hand. This has led to honor killings, where members of the family actually kill their daughter or sister rather than have her dishonor the family. In 2010, we saw a dramatic example where the uncle of an 'honor killing' victim protested:
“What is wrong in it? Murder is wrong, but this is socially the best thing that has been done.”
Fans of 2013's Man of Steel will remember that Kryptonian society moved on from natural births long ago, but it's worth noting the comics are inconsistent about this. When DC rebooted the comic universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths, it led to a portrayal of Krypton clearly inspired by Isaac Asimov's Solaris; a cold, cerebral world, with children grown in gestation tanks rather than born and nurtured. After Infinite Crisis's later reboot, though, we saw female Kryptonians who were visibly pregnant. It could be that Krypton has chosen to ditch this part of Kryptonian lore, which would make the discussion of honor, romance, and shame more intriguing.
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At its best, science-fiction holds a mirror up to society, and helps us to understand and interpret the world around us. In this case, Krypton seems to have embraced a culture that is alien to Western thought, and the details we know so far suggest we're going to see a remarkable attempt to explore caste and honor. That's science-fiction at its best, and it leaves me truly optimistic for this series. It won't be a superhero show; but it may well be a tremendously strong science-fiction series!
Are you excited about Krypton? Let me know in the comments!