Kryptonite is a material that appears primarily in Superman stories. In its most well-known form, it is a green, crystalline material that emits a peculiar radiation that weakens and sickens Superman, but is generally harmless to humans when exposed to it in short term. However, when it gets into their bloodstream it can poison them. There are other varieties of kryptonite such as red and gold kryptonite which have different but still generally negative effects on Superman. Due to Superman's popularity kryptonite has become a byword for an extraordinary weakness, synonymous with "Achilles' heel".
Green kryptonite: art by Gary Frank.
The Adventures of Superman
|In story information|
|Element of stories featuring||Superman|
An unpublished 1940 story titled "The K-Metal from Krypton", written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel, featured a prototype of kryptonite. It was a mineral from the planet Krypton that drained Superman of his strength while giving superhuman powers to mortals. This story was rejected because in it Superman reveals his identity to Lois.
The mineral known as kryptonite was introduced in the radio serial The Adventures of Superman, in the story "The Meteor from Krypton", broadcast in June 1943. An apocryphal story claims that kryptonite was introduced to give Superman's voice actor, Bud Collyer, the possibility to take a vacation at a time when the radio serial was performed live. In an episode where Collyer would not be present to perform, Superman would be incapacitated by kryptonite, and a substitute voice actor would make groaning sounds. This tale was recounted by Julius Schwartz in his memoir. However, the historian Michael J. Hayde disputes this: in "The Meteor From Krypton", Superman is never exposed to kryptonite. If kryptonite allowed Collyer to take vacations, that was a fringe benefit discovered later. More likely, kryptonite was introduced as a plot device for Superman to discover his origin.
In the radio serial, Krypton was located in the same solar system as Earth, in the same orbit, but on the opposite side of the Sun. This provided an easy explanation for how kryptonite found its way to Earth.
Kryptonite was incorporated into the comic mythos with Superman #61 (November 1949). Editor Dorothy Woolfolk stated in an interview with Florida Today in August 1993, that she "felt Superman's invulnerability was boring."
Forms: colors and effects Edit
Various forms of the fictional material have been created over the years in Superman publications.
|Green kryptonite||Originally red in color, the material debuted in Superman #61 (Nov. 1949) and did not adopt its characteristic green hue until Action Comics #161 (Aug. 1951). Green kryptonite weakens Superman and other Kryptonians. It can and will kill them with long-term exposure. Kryptonians under kryptonite exposure experience severe muscular weakness, usually to the point of collapse, and excruciating pain, with both conditions progressively intensifying. Kryptonians under kryptonite exposure usually develop a fever and eventually will lose consciousness before death. Under kryptonite exposure, the blood of Kryptonians begins turning green, and their skin gradually assumes a green color.
Although canonical depictions vary widely, the majority of accounts maintain that although kryptonite exposure victims experience severe weakness and pain, exposure in itself does not eradicate the victim's superpowers, except those related to physical strength. Therefore victims retain most of their visual and sensory powers, although kryptonite itself appears impervious to damage by heat vision. Kryptonite exposure does not compromise the subject's invulnerability to other forms of injury; therefore it is not a practical strategy for a villain to first expose the victim to kryptonite, then kill them with a gun or other conventional weapon. Some accounts maintain paralysis is an effect of kryptonite exposure, although most depictions show victims still capable of limited movement. Kryptonian characters have been shown to become immune to the effects of green kryptonite due to either long-term absorption of sunlight or extremely high short-term exposure to the sun. Post-Crisis sources establish that green kryptonite is also harmful to humans; with sufficient long-term exposure, it can result in cancer, as Lex Luthor discovered from a ring with a kryptonite jewel he wore to ward off Superman's presence.
|Red kryptonite||Debuted in Adventure Comics #255 (Sept. 1958). Originally red kryptonite simply weakened Superman, but to a greater degree than green kryptonite. Red kryptonite was later described as causing odd behavior or bizarre transformations, albeit temporary and non-fatal. The effects of red kryptonite are sometimes described as lasting exactly 24 hours, but in other accounts the effects may persist up to three days.|
|Anti-kryptonite/Fool's kryptonite||Debuted in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). Harmless to Kryptonians, but has the same effect as the green variety on normal humans. Anti-kryptonite is also the power source for one version of the character Ultraman, Superman's evil counterpart from an antimatter universe.|
|X-kryptonite||Debuted in Action Comics #261 (Jan. 1960). Created by Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) in an unsuccessful attempt to find an antidote to green kryptonite. Harmless to Kryptonians, the mineral gives normal life-forms superhuman abilities, as in the case of Supergirl's pet cat Streaky. Revised in Superman Family #203 (Oct. 1980) to have the same effect as the green variety on Kryptonians.|
|Blue kryptonite||Debuted in Superman #140 (Oct. 1960). An imperfect form of kryptonite which affects the imperfect Superman duplicate Bizarro and members of the Bizarro League in the same way that green kryptonite affects Kryptonians. Kryptonians, however, are unaffected by it. Blue kryptonite is also the antidote to the random and bizarre effects of red kryptonite.|
|White kryptonite||Debuted in Adventure Comics #279 (Dec. 1960). Kills all plant life from any world.|
|Red-Green kryptonite (first variety)||Debuted in Action Comics #275 (April 1961). An alloy created by the villain Brainiac, the red-green kryptonite caused Superman to mutate, temporarily growing a third eye in the back of his head.|
|Gold kryptonite||Debuted in Adventure Comics #299 (Aug. 1962). Kryptonite affected by atomic radiation, capable of permanently removing a Kryptonian's ability to process yellow sunlight, which nullifies all superhuman abilities. In post-Crisis stories, this kryptonite only removes a Kryptonian's powers temporarily (in Superman II, the crystal chamber from Superman's Fortress of Solitude exhibited the same effect, although this process was reversed via Jor-El's green crystal).|
|Red-Green-Blue-Gold kryptonite||Debuted in Superman #162 (July 1963). An imaginary story in which Superman combines the minerals to power an intelligence-expanding device. An explosion occurs and the hero is split into two separate beings ("Superman-Red" and "Superman-Blue"), both of whom possess enhanced intelligence.|
|Silver kryptonite||Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70 (July 1963). Revealed by Jimmy Olsen to be a hoax. In post-Crisis stories, silver kryptonite first appeared in Superman/Batman #46 (April 2008), modeled after the version that appeared in the Smallville TV series, season 5 episode 7 "Splinter", where Clark suffers paranoid delusions. Silver kryptonite causes Kryptonians to suffer from altered perceptions, loss of inhibitions, and extreme hunger cravings. On the Supergirl TV series, this kryptonite causes Superman to hallucinate his "greatest fear" of an attacking General Zod during the final episode of season 2, "Nevertheless, She Persisted".|
|Jewel kryptonite||Debuted in Action Comics #310 (March 1964). Fragments of Krypton's Jewel Mountains. Amplifies the psychic powers of the criminals imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, allowing them to project illusions or perform mind control.|
|Bizarro-red kryptonite||Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #80 (Oct. 1964). Affects humans in the same manner that red kryptonite affects Kryptonians.|
|Red-Green kryptonite (second variety)||Debuted in Superboy Comics #121 (June 1965). This caused Superboy to lose his powers permanently, but the Phantom Zone criminal Vakox unwillingly cured him, restoring his powers.|
|Red-Gold kryptonite||Debuted in Superman #178 (July 1965). Temporarily deprives Kryptonians of their memories.|
|Magno-kryptonite||Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #92 (April 1966). Created by the villain Mr. Nero, this variety is magnetically attracted to all substances originally from Krypton.|
|Red-Green-Gold kryptonite||Debuted in Superman #192 (Jan. 1967). An imaginary story in which the alloy permanently removes Superman's powers and memories of himself as Superman.|
|Slow kryptonite||Debuted in The Brave and the Bold #175 (June 1981). A modified variety of green kryptonite produced by the supervillan Metallo that affects humans in a manner similar to green kryptonite.|
|Kryptonite-X||Debuted in The Adventures of Superman #511 (April 1994). A one-time fluke, kryptonite-X was created when the Eradicator filtered a harmful barrage of kryptonite discharged by the villain the Cyborg Superman at Superman. The result was beneficial for Superman, supercharging him and restoring his ability to process solar radiation.|
|Pink kryptonite||Debuted in Supergirl vol. 4 #79 (April 2003). Pink kryptonite seemingly turns Kryptonians gay. This type of kryptonite was mentioned in a single panel in a story that was a satire of the plots of many Silver Age comic stories (such as those listed above) which featured some strange new variety of kryptonite. In the Justice League Action short "True Colours" it switches a Kryptonian's gender.|
|Black kryptonite||Debuted in Supergirl #2 (vol. 5, Oct. 2005). In pre-Flashpoint continuity, it could split a Kryptonian into two separate entities: one good and the other evil (the kryptonite manufactured by the villains of Superman III had just such an effect on the Man of Steel). In Dark Nights: Metal - The Batman Who Laughs #1, set on the Dark Multiverse's Earth -22, a Batman corrupted by the Joker creates a modified strand of black kryptonite. He tests this first on Supergirl, causing her to murder her family before dying. He then uses it again on Superman and Superboy, who literally tear apart Lois Lane before also dying themselves.|
|Orange kryptonite||Debuted in Krypto the Superdog #4 (Feb. 2007). Provides super abilities for 24 hours to any animal that comes into contact with it.|
|Periwinkle kryptonite||Debuted in Superman Family Adventures #9 (March 2013). A non-canon story. Exposure to periwinkle kryptonite causes Kryptonians to lose all inhibitions.|
Other varieties of the material have appeared, but have been revealed to be hoaxes, such as "Yellow" (Action Comics #277 (June 1961)), "Kryptonite Plus" (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #126 (Jan. 1970)) and "Blood" (52 #13 (Aug. 2006)).
In other mediaEdit
- The Adventures of Superman (1952-1958) featured kryptonite in the episodes "Panic in the Sky", "The Defeat of Superman", "Superman Week", "The Deadly Rock", "The Magic Secret", "The Gentle Monster" and "All That Glitters".
- Superboy (1988-1992) featured green kryptonite in the episodes: "Kryptonite Kills" and "Metallo", "Bride of Bizarro", "Kryptonite Kid", and "Obituary for a Super-Hero". The red variety was featured in the episode "Super Menace". A Bizarro White variant was featured in the episode "The Battle With Bizarro", which heals the title character.
- Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997) featured green kryptonite in the episodes "The Green, Green Glow of Home", "Barbarians at the Planet", "The House of Luthor", "Metallo", "Top Copy" and "Battleground Earth". The red variety was featured in the episodes "Individual Responsibility", "Ultrawoman" and "Lethal Weapon".
- Smallville (2001-2011) featured kryptonite on a regular basis. A large quantity of the green variety descends to Earth in a meteor shower, arriving in the town of Smallville, Kansas with the spaceship containing the infant Kal-El. The material is colloquially referred to by Smallville residents as "meteor rock", but is eventually called "kryptonite" by Clark Kent once he discovers his origins in season two episode "Rosetta" (in real life, the area near Brenham, Kansas is known as the site of a major meteorite strike between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago). Aside from being harmful to Clark Kent, the mineral produces bizarre changes in flora and fauna. It also occasionally bestows metahuman abilities on humans depending on the circumstances of their exposure to it, such as a girl treated for a rare bone disease acquiring shapeshifting powers. These people are commonly known by the inhabitants of Smallville as "Meteor Freaks". The green variety of the mineral appears in several episodes every season, although other varieties appear, including: red in "Red" (2002), "Exodus", "Exile", "Phoenix" (2003), "Unsafe" (2005), "Crimson" (2007) and "Upgrade" (2010); black, formed when superheating green kryptonite in "Crusade" (2004) and "Doomsday" (2009); silver in "Splinter" (2005); blue in "Blue" (2007), "Persona" (2008), "Kandor" (2009), "Salvation" (2010) and "Harvest" (2011); as a gem in "Persuasion" (2010) and gold in "Prophecy" and "Finale" (2011). Smallville was the first appearance of a black kryptonite that would split a person into their good and evil halves, before later being brought into the comic canon in Supergirl (vol. 5) #2 (Oct. 2005).
- Supergirl (2015–present) featured green kryptonite in the episodes: "Pilot", "Stronger Together", "Hostile Takeover", "For the Girl Who Has Everything", and "Distant Sun". In the second part of Arrowverse's 2017 crossover "Crisis on Earth-X," reveals that Green Arrow of Earth-1 somehow obtains samples of green kryptonite, and uses them to construct kryptonite arrows as deterrents against rogue Kryptonians such as Overgirl (Supergirl's parallel universe counterpart from Krypton-X) and Superman imposter John Deegan. DEO manages to synthesize and create blue kryptonite which is featured in the episode "Bizarro". The red kryptonite is featured in the episode "Falling" as a failed attempt to recreate green kryptonite by Maxwell Lord. Silver kryptonite is featured in the episode "Nevertheless, She Persisted". In season 3, the black kryptonite is pivotal to its arc, first appearing in the episode "The Fanatical", in which it is being referred to as Harun-El by Kryptonians. The Worldkiller Coven from Krypton, headed by dark priestess Selena, schemes to use the Harun-El to terraform Earth into a Krypton-like planet for Kryptonians to inhabit. The protagonists uses the Harun-El to split the Worldkiller Coven's servant, Reign, from her human alter-ego Samantha Arias. By the end of the season finale, it is implied that Supergirl's being is also divided after her exposure to it during her final battle with Reign.
- The Brady Kids (1972-1973) featured green kryptonite in the episode "Cindy's Super Friend" which shows Clark Kent attempting to become Superman in the Kids' clubhouse, only to be incapacitated by a piece of green kryptonite as part of a rock collection.
- Super Friends (1973-1986) features kryptonite in the episodes "Superfriends: Rest in Peace" ("Krypton steel"); "Darkseid's Golden Trap" (gold); "Terror From the Phantom Zone" (blue, green, and red); "Return of the Phantoms" (green); "Rokan: Enemy from Space" (green); "Bazarowurld" (red and blue); "Revenge of Bizarro" (red and blue); Will the World Collide?" (green); "Uncle Mxyzptlk" (red); "The Death of Superman" (green); "Batman: Dead or Alive" (green).
- Superman (1988) features a kryptonite ring worn by Lex Luthor.
- Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000) offers an explanation of the effect of the material on Superman. This series and The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999) showcase a three-part crossover story arc called World's Finest that demonstrates the effect of kryptonite poisoning on humans.
- Justice League (2001-2004) explores the same theme.
- In Batman Beyond (1999-2001) the two-part episode "The Call" reveals that kryptonite has been kept safe in the distant future as a deterrent against Superman due to the hero's past as a rogue agent under Darkseid's mind manipulation.
- Krypto the Superdog (2005-2006) features green, red and a purple-spotted variation.
- Legion of Super Heroes (2006-2008) features green.
- Young Justice (2010-2013, 2018) features green kryptonite in the episode "Auld Acquaintance".
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Battle of the Superheroes!", Superman is infected with a red kryptonite necklace secretly given to Lois Lane by Lex Luthor which causes Superman to become evil. Now Batman must work with Krypto the Superdog to hold off Superman until the effects of the red kryptonite wear off.
- In Superman (1978) Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) deduces that a meteorite found in Addis Ababa is actually a radioactive piece of the exploded planet Krypton. Luthor uses the mineral to weaken Superman (Christopher Reeve), who is saved by Luthor's lover Eve Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine).
- In Superman III (1983) billionaire Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn) orders the creation of synthetic kryptonite. Computer programmer Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) uses tar to compensate for an unknown component of kryptonite, causing the newly created mineral to eventually turn Superman evil and split the hero into two beings. Gorman's "supercomputer" later fights Superman and uses a kryptonite ray.
- In Superman Returns (2006) Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) steals the Addis Ababa L9 Pallasite Meteorite and uses kryptonite to create a new Kryptonian landmass and a dagger for use against Superman. The film describes kryptonite's formula as "sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide with fluorine". A year after the film was released, a substance with a similar formula was discovered, jadarite, a coincidence which led to media attention. The new mineral, unlike the fictional material in the movie, does not contain fluorine and does not glow green.
- In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010) an alternate universe version of Lex Luthor uses blue kryptonite against the villain Ultraman.
- In Justice League: Doom (2012), the villain Metallo wounds Superman with a kryptonite bullet, but he is saved by the JLA.
- In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) kryptonite is discovered by men working for Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) at the bottom of the Indian Ocean and experimented with by Luthor, who learns of its harmful effect on Kryptonians when the corpse of General Zod is exposed to it. The kryptonite is then stolen from Luthor by Batman (Ben Affleck), who uses it to create kryptonite gas pellets and a kryptonite-tipped spear, both of which he later uses in battle with Superman (Henry Cavill). Doomsday is also shown to be weakened by kryptonite, allowing Superman to use the spear to kill him in the film's climax.
- In Superman: Atari 2600 (1978) Luthor has created kryptonite satellites and scattered them around Metropolis that take away Superman's ability to fly when touched. Superman must then walk around Metropolis until he finds and meets Lois Lane, to regain his powers.
- Superman 64 (1999) it appears as kryptonite fog, coined as an excuse for the game's poor draw distance.
- In the crossover fighting game Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (2008) kryptonite weakens Superman when exposed while it makes his Mortal Kombat universe counterpart, the thunder god Raiden, stronger.
- In Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012) kryptonite is used to power Lex Luthor's weapon the "Deconstructor".
- Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (2013) showcases the material in different forms.
- Kryptonite is one of the foundation elements in Lego Dimensions.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013) features a kryptonite laser designed as a fail-safe against Superman should he turn against humanity.
- Gold and green kryptonite appear in the story mode of Injustice 2.
- "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down (2000).
- "Kryptonite (I'm on It)" by rap group Purple Ribbon All-Stars (2006).
- "Fashion Is My Kryptonite" by Bella Thorne and Zendaya (2012).
- "Ready or Not" by Bridgit Mendler (2012).
- "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon (2014).
- "Get Your Cape On" by Jordyn Kane (2015).
- "Kryptonite" by Christina Cimorelli (2017).
- Pocket Full of Kryptonite, a 1991 album by Spin Doctors. The album's title is drawn from a line in the song "Jimmy Olsen's Blues", which is featured on the album.
- In the title track for his album Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof, Travis Tritt sings about picking a fight when he feels like Superman "only to find my opponent is holding Kryptonite".
- The Genesis song The Carpet Crawlers mentions Kryptonite: "Mild-mannered Supermen are held in Kryptonite…".
- "There's a Moon in the Sky" by The_B-52's mentions Kryptonite: "you get a mouth, a mouthful of red Kryptonite".
- Horton, Andrew; McDougal, Stuart Y.; Braudy, Leo (1998). Play it Again, Sam: Retakes on Remakes. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 287. ISBN 0520205936.
- Jones, Gerard (2004). Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book. New York: Basic Books. pp. 181–183. ISBN 0465036562.
- Hayde, Michael J. (2009). Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV's Adventures of Superman. BearManor Media. ISBN 9781593933449.
"Only one arc in 1943 managed to transcend its era: "The Meteor from Krypton." Debuting on June 3, it marked the debut of kryptonite..."
- Schwartz, Julius (2000). Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics. HarperEntertainment. ISBN 0-380-81051-4.
- Hayde, Michael J. (2009). Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV's Adventures of Superman. BearManor Media. ISBN 9781593933449.
"Since Superman’s life isn’t threatened — the meteorite never leaves the doctor’s custody — it’s likely that Lowther’s primary intent was to create a means for Superman to discover his own origin."
- Bill Finger (w), Al Pastino (p). "Superman's Return to Krypton!" Superman #61 (November 1949), DC Comics
- Tippens, Norman (6 December 2000). "Dorothy Woolfolk, Superman Editor". Daily Press. WebCite. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
- Mark Waid (w), Alex Ross (a). Kingdom Come: 129/4 (1997), New York: DC Comics, ISBN 1563893304
- Grant Morrison (w), Frank Quietly (p). All-Star Superman #1 (January 2006), DC Comics
- John Byrne (w), Dick Giordano (p). "Games People Play" Action Comics #600: 8 (May 1988), DC Comics
- Grant Morrison (w), Frank Quietly (p). JLA: Earth 2: 73/1 (September 2000), DC Comics
- Geoff Johns, Richard Donner (w), Adam Kubert (p). "Last Son" Action Comics Annual #11 (July 2008), DC Comics
- Scharping, Nathaniel (April 4, 2018). "Space Metal Has Captivated Humanity for Ages". Discover.
- "'Kryptonite' discovered in mine", BBC News, 24 Apr 2007
- Washington Post
- Staskiewicz, Keith (2 July 2015). "'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice': 6 EW exclusive photos". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
- Storm, Ian (11 September 2005). "3 Doors Down - The Better Life (album review 4)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
- "Big Boi Presents...Got Purp?, Vol. 2 - Big Boi, Purple Ribbon All-Stars". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
- "Pocket Full of Kryptonite - Spin Doctors". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2017.