Krypton - Season 1
Credit: Steffan Hill/Syfy

Though Krypton is set more than 200 years before the dawn of Superman, Syfy’s long-gestating origin story will connect to the present thanks to time travel, thus allowing for untold tales about one of the most iconic comic book characters in history.

Set generations before Superman’s home planet was destroyed, this series follows Kal-El’s grandfather Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe) as he struggles with a tough decision: save Krypton from destruction, or let it happen in order for his grandson to meet his destiny. Not helping matters, Krypton’s leadership is in disarray and the House of El is ostracized.

“You can tell [from that trailer] that time travel is involved, and what that means is history could be changed, and what happens in this show could be very different from the backstory that people know,” executive producer David S. Goyer told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour Tuesday. “A lot of people know that Krypton blows up and that’s what caused Superman to come to Earth, but this is really an untold story.”

In fact, Krypton isn’t necessarily considered a prequel, but a completely new story — the producers already have a seven or eight-year plan for where the series could go that doesn’t necessarily follow what little Kryptonian lore there is in the comics. “The time travel element does give us some unpredictability and some creative license to do some stories you don’t know or stories that play out differently than what people might assume,” DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns adds.

As Seg-El tries to protect his family’s legacy, he’ll be challenged by DC characters like Brainiac (Blake Ritson) and Earthly time-traveler Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos). The latter ventures back in time because someone else has traveled from the future to keep Superman from being born, bridging the past and present throughout the series. “He’s an unlikely hero,” Johns says of Adam Strange. “He’s the unlikely choice of shouldering this burden of trying to stop someone from the present trying to prevent this Superman legacy… Adam Strange is a character that doesn’t really embody what Superman does as far as honor and justice, doesn’t really know right from wrong, but looks up to Superman.”

Adds executive producer Cameron Welsh: “Adam Strange gets to become a proxy for the audience in a lot of ways. He’s the fish out of water in this alien world.”

While Krypton is not tied to the DCTV world that includes shows like The Flash and Gotham, Johns says that allows them to do their own version of characters like Doomsday. Basically, the ever-expanding DC Universe is their playground, and they definitely plan to explore it. “It’s this gateway into the DC science fiction universe,” Goyer says. “Because we’re also the Phantom Zone figures into the show, which means we can delve into other times and other planets eventually, even the inclusion of Adam Strange, that should tip you off that it’s not going to just be set on Krypton.”

With time travel playing such a big role, does that mean Superman himself will appear on the show? “The door is open,” Goyer says.

Krypton will premiere March 21 on Syfy.

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