SXSW: Krypton producer and writers talk hope, Brainiac, and Doomsday at Superman panel

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Mar 10, 2018

The cream of DC's creative crop was out in full force at this year's SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas. To celebrate 80 years of Superman, the publisher organized a panel to discuss the Man of Steel and his upcoming prequel series, Krypton, on SYFY.

The high-profile participants of "Superman: 80 Years of Truth Justice and Hope" were Jim Lee (legendary artist and DC Publisher; Batman: Hush), Dan Jurgens (The Death of Superman, Action Comics), Frank Miller (The Dark Knight trilogy, Batman: Year One; as of 2017, Miller is working with John Romita Jr. on a Superman: Year One graphic novel), Brian Michael Bendis (Action Comics #1000Man of Steel), Cameron Welsh: Krypton Executive Producer, and Lina Patel (The 100, Frequency) and Nadria Tucker (Underground): Krypton writers. 

The group of extremely talented writers, artists, and producers discussed their favorite aspects of Superman as well as their top stories from over the years. 

"Honestly the idea of hope in this environment that we're growing up in right now, it feels like now more than ever we need Superman," said Bendis. Adding to this idea, Welsh said that while Superman is not a character on Krypton, what he stands for is present in a very real way.

"What would happen if Superman was never born?" he asked. "I think a character who embodies hope is really important to us. While we don't have Superman on our show, we explore his legacy."

Patel offered her two cents on the matter: "Today everyone's so cynical and slick. So working on Krypton now feels like we're creating a legacy of hope."

Developed by DC screenwriter/director David S. Goyer, The show stars Cameron Cuffe as Superman's grandfather (Seg-El), 200 years before the hero is ever born. Hoping to restore his family's honor, Seg-El must also protect his home planet from the villain Brainiac (Blake Ritson) who wants to prevent Kal-El from ever being born. 

"The opportunity to time travel gives us a lot of creative freedom," Patel stated. "Literally, everything can happen, and it keeps our focus on the present-day in Krypton."

As for Season 1's big baddie, Krypton is the first live-action depiction of Brainiac, a very classic Superman villain. "We were trying to decide whether to make him a CG character or go prosthetics," Welsh said. "What would work best with a TV budget but also give fans the character they waited for and deserved." 

However, the buck doesn't stop there. Even the dreaded Doomsday (most recently seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to middling results), will be a part of the show. "We're pretty excited about that," said the producer. "In our writers room we have the Death of Superman and few particular panels on the walls, and we pay homage to that (in the show)."

The human Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) also plays a big role in helping out Seg-El, warning him about the plan to stop the birth of his very important grandchild. Calling the character "fun," Welsh said he'll be sort of "a proxy" for the viewers at home. "Even though he's an alien in this world … he's our kind of eyes and point of view character."

Krypton premieres March 21 on SYFY. A TV special called Krypton: The Making of a Legend airs March 14 and will touch upon the forthcoming show as well as Superman's enduring legacy. 

Continue on to the media gallery below to see all the cool DC stuff on display at SXSW 2018 pop-up shop!

[Additional reporting by Josh Weiss]