By Pauline Perenack
When the press room for Krypton opened at San Diego Comic Con last weekend, no one in the room quite knew what to expect.
Sure, we had seen the short trailer that had been released online previously, and a few of us had seen the slightly longer trailer that had been shown during the WB screenings on Preview Night at Comic Con, but still, not much was known about this new show.
However, ScreenSpy had the opportunity to sit down with the executive producers, and series star Cameron Cuffe, and following our discussion, this reporter is definitely more intrigued about the show, and is looking forward to seeing the pilot when it premieres.
For those of you who still haven’t heard of Krypton, it’s a new show debuting on Syfy in 2018, which revolves around Seg-El, the grandfather of Superman, and therefore takes place 200 years before the stories we know so well. It stars a relatively unknown cast (Cuffe was last seen in an episode of the short lived ABC show, Time After Time) and has been kept relatively secret.
Furthermore, anyone who has read or watched anything about Superman knows the ultimate fate of the planet Krypton, and its inhabitants. Therefore, no sooner had Executive Producer Cameron Welsh sat down, he was invited to address a thorny subject. Why should anyone invest time in this show if we all know the fate of the planet?
“That’s actually a great question, and I’m happy you asked it,” said Welsh. “Krypton isn’t a prequel – it challenges that expectation. There are people coming from present day Earth, traveling back to Krypton 200 years ago to ensure that Superman is never born. So, the stakes are higher, and the ending you think you know? That’s not necessarily it. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Executive Producer Damien Kindler expanded on that that concept. “You have not just technology like the Phantom Zone, but you have villains who have the power to travel through time, so threats from the future can impact the past in a way that rewrites history, and by the end of the pilot, everything you think you know about Kyrpton, it’s fate, what happens to it, it’s all going to be thrown away. The game has changed. The future and past are colliding.”
With the addition of time travel to the storyline, the possibility of familiar faces showing up is very real, and Welsh was eager to talk about that storyline. “It allows us to bring characters into this world that you wouldn’t expect to see. Characters that don’t really belong on Krypton 200 years before Superman’s birth. We have a cool device that allows us to get them there. Particularly on the villain side, you’ll see people on the show that DC fans will get very excited about.” Additionally, this will enable villains of Superman’s past and present to join forces in trying to prevent the birth of our favorite Kryptonian.
But since Kyrpton takes place so many years before the birth of Superman, audiences will get to learn about characters they’ve only heard of. The main character, Seg, isn’t quite like Superman. He’s not on a planet with a yellow sun, so doesn’t have the same superpowers. As Welsh put it, “He is rough and tumble. He grew up on the streets and his journey is to become a hero. What we’re looking to do throughout the series is put a number of moral dilemmas and challenges in front of him, where he could choose one path, and if he did, maybe his grandson would become The Punisher, but he chooses this path and his son grows up to be Superman. He doesn’t start out that way. There’s a big journey for him to get there.”
Cuffe agreed. “Seg grows up in society that is incredibly harsh. Seg is a little more rough around the edges. He has to use different tactics because he doesn’t have the super powers. He’s a scrapper and a fighter, and someone who believes in tomorrow.”
Then there’s Val-El, Seg’s grandfather who has an enormous impact on Seg’s life. He’s a mentor to young Seg, but an event happens early in the pilot which affects their relationship. “When we first meet Seg,” explains Welsh, “he’s been outcast from that upper class Kryptonian society to the Rankless, and spent the better part of his years growing up on the streets, and is kind of disconnected from the legacy of the house of El and what it means and what it stands for. Val-El becomes an important character in helping shape Seg and imparting the lessons of the house of El’s legacy.”
Cuffe further explained: “Val was a prominent scientist on Krypton and was immensely important to Seg growing up. Val was this person who told him about the wonders of science of the world and the importance of truth and looking for the answer, even if you might not like the answer, or if it’s a difficult problem to solve, you’ve got to face it head on, and that’s the only way to do it. He loses his grandfather very early on in the story. And eventually all those great things he told him about the legacy of the house of El, and what it means to be an El feel very far away to Seg but his grandfather is still the ultimate hero in his life.”
The Rankless then becomes an interesting part of the storyline. Welsh explained that the “Rankless live on the ground, and the Houses of El and Zod live up in towers. It’s a shiny utopia up there, but on the streets, it’s kind of grimy, and it’s a struggle down there.” Kindler added on that “the Rankless district is the oldest, roughest, forgotten part of the city. Those in the guilded area, when they’ve broken laws or fallen out of favor, they are sent to live in the Rankless district, which is hard living, less environmental support, and a tough existence.” Audiences will see a lot of the Rankless district because as Kindler explains, in the first episode, “The House of El is stripped of its rank, and the Els are sent to live in the Rankless district, and young Seg grows up learning he has to be quick with his mind, and quick with his fists.”
With Seg no longer a prominent member of society, the relationship he develops with Lyta-Zod of the powerful House of Zod will create not only major sparks, but major problems. As Kindler explains, “Seg and Lyta is a perfect star-crossed relationship. The Zods are the family known for security, and the military. Her mother is head of the military guild. There’s an expectation of duty and honor. The Zods are not villains in this story. They are a force of good. A force to protect. But also caught up in the shifting political tides of what is happening on Krypton. There is a relationship between Lyta and Seg that is hidden and secret and they are both caught up in a real shifting tide of a Krypton that is under threat. It’s a great relationship. She’s a crazy, badass fighter, and he’s a kid from the ghetto and they’re not supposed to be with each other.”
“She’s a very, very good solider,” said Cuffe. “And Seg, when we meet him, is just kind of hustling on the streets, and it should be oil and water, but it turns into this romance, and the thing is, what they see in each other is an escape from society that’s drifting towards authoritarianism, and for them to be together is an act of rebelling.” Undoubtedly, these two character will have a ship name before the end of the pilot, and will have a rocky road ahead of them if the visitors from the past clue in Lyta to the ultimate fate of her family.
It’s still a long time before the premiere of the show, but Cuffe is already ready to keep going. “I’m so excited to see where it’s going to go,” he said. “We have an immensely talented cast and I’m looking forward to getting back together with all of them and telling the story. More than anything, I’m looking forward to getting back to work.”
Based on how the series is shaping up, Cuffe could be working on the show for a long time to come.
Krypton debuts on Syfy in 2018.