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"Remember, Kara, a true Kryptonian embraces their destiny, no matter what."
— Zor-El to Kara, Lara

Zor-El (1940-1986) was a Kryptonian scientist who was directly responsible for the destruction of his own home planet Krypton. He was a member of the House of El: the father of Kara, the younger brother of Jor-El, and the uncle of Kal-El / Clark Kent.

Physical Appearance


Zor-El was a tall, thin man with short dark hair and blue eyes. On Krypton, he wore Kryptonian robes and a House of El pendant. When he was resurrected as a clone on Earth, he wore a black leather robe.


Zor-El was a very cold, manipulative, crooked, and controlling scientist who was constantly disagreeing with his brother Jor-El, characterizing him as a "feeble-minded pacifist." He believed in maintaining the House of El dynasty, and was also a strong believer in destiny, devoutly believing in Rao's prophecy to the point of fanaticism, going so far as to ignite Krypton's already unstable core in order to fulfill the prophecy.

Zor-El had obsessive romantic feelings for Jor-El's wife Lara, and spared his nephew Kal-El's life, saying, "If you weren't Lara's son, I'd end your life right now." He also went as far as trying to kill his own daughter Kara.[1]

Powers and Abilities

See: Kryptonian Powers and Abilities

  • Solar battery: Zor-El gained Kryptonian powers under a yellow sun. (Blue) He didn't have such powers under Krypton's red sun. (Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton)
  • Super strength: Zor-El was extremely strong, and could overpower Kara but not Clark, to such a point that, instead of even trying to confront him, he used Lara to depower him.
  • Super speed: Zor-El could move at speeds that exceeded the sound barrier. (Lara, Blue)
  • Flight: Zor-El could defy the laws of gravity, enabling him to hover, levitate, and fly at fast speeds. (Blue)
  • Invulnerability: Zor-El is nearly impenetrable, being only vulnerable to kryptonite. He showed invulnerability after Clark punched him. (Blue)
  • Technopathy: The crystals in the Fortress told him Lionel was the vessel of Jor-El. (Blue)

Zor-El was the mine operator in Kandor on Krypton and a mineral expert, making him highly knowledgeable on such matters, as he knew that blue kryptonite, under a yellow sun, would strip Kryptonians of their abilities.


See Kryptonian Vulnerabilities

Like all Kryptonians, Zor-El was vulnerable to various forms of kryptonite. During the short time he was on Earth as a clone, he was only exposed to green kryptonite, which temporarily but painfully incapacitated him.

Additionally, Zor-El's clone was destroyed when Clark shattered the blue crystal that resurrected him and Lara as clones.

Early life

(All birth dates for those born on Krypton are in Earth years)

Zor-El was born on the planet Krypton in 1940, and raised alongside his older brother Jor-El. As an adult, he became a scientist like his brother, and married and had a daughter named Kara.

Zor-El and Jor-El never really talked. Kara once described the House of El as a "dysfunctional family." Years later, Jor-El told Clark that he never trusted Zor-El, and Martian Manhunter later told Clark that Zor-El tried to kill Jor-El and was a traitor. Sometime after that, Jor-El told his son that Zor-El's experiments were motivated by greed and power.

Zor-El follows Lara to Earth.

Before the first meteor shower that befell Smallville, Zor-El traveled to Earth on several occasions. He first went to study the effects of kryptonite on Kryptonians and the effects of the yellow sun on Kryptonians, so when he later went to Earth to fulfill Rao's prophecy, he would have advance knowledge of its effects. He later went to retrieve Kara, who had followed Jor-El's wife Lara there. After chastising his daughter for leaving Kandor and ordering her outside the Kents' house, Zor-El professed his love for Lara and suggested that they stay on Earth and rule the planet together, revealing that he tried to assassinate Jor-El so he could have Lara all to himself. Lara rejected Zor-El and his advances, revealing that she was pregnant with Jor-El's son. Zor-El vowed that one day he would have Lara through his science, revealing that he had stored Lara's DNA in a crystal. When he saw that Kara had witnessed the whole thing, Zor-El used a Crystal of El to erase the events of that day in his daughter's mind.

Sometime just before his attempt on Jor-El's life, Zor-El went into the Phantom Zone and built an escape route out so that he could escape if he was put there for his crime, and also told Kara about it so, if she was ever imprisoned, she would be able to escape. (Bloodline)

After his failed attempt to kill Jor-El, Zor-El was disgraced as a scientist and became the mining operator for Kandor's mine. He also became associated with General Zod.

Zod and his army took over all other mines on Krypton, with Kandor's mine the only one supplying defenses against Zod's forces with the mine working at full capacity. When Krypton started suffering from seismic disturbances, Jor-El suspected they were being caused by Kandor's mine and informed the Science Council about it. The Science Council confronted Zor-El, who denied that it was Kandor's mine and told them it was Zod who was causing the tremors. Zor-El then ordered for Kara's school to be attacked, and sent his disciple Augo to make sure Kara wasn't there to stop her from getting hurt. He also planned for several other key buildings to be attacked, the Council's military headquarters and the government building among them.

Kara unknowingly went to see Zor-El about it and went to his office while he was conversing via hologram with Aethyr and Nam-Ek, revealing both his association with Zod's campaign and that he had advance knowledge of the recent attacks to Kara. Nam-Ek and Aethyr planned to begin their final assault on Kandor once the city's defenses had been weakened. When confronted by Kara, who asked him why he would try and kill his own daughter, Zor-El said he made sure that she never got hurt and told her that Augo is his disciple and that she was never in danger. He then explained that he did it all for Rao's prophecy, that the end is near and that she should fulfill her destiny. After Kara ran away and hid in the mine, Zor-El and Augo chased after her and eventually found her.

Zor-El and Kara say goodbye before Krypton is destroyed.

Zor-El then went back into Kandor's mine control room and began activating the mine to full capacity in order to ignite Krypton's core. The countdown was nearly complete when Jor-El contacted him and told him that the Council had ordered him to stop the mining as Zod had been captured and sentenced to the Phantom Zone. Zor-El agreed to stop the mining, but then learned that Jor-El knew about his trips to Earth to study the effects of the yellow sun on kryptonite and Kryptonians, and also how he tried to seduce Lara. Jor-El also told him that he knew of his ties with Zod, but did not know the extent; until he did, Zor-El was under arrest and the control room locked down.

Zor-El ordered Brainiac to override the lockdown, which it did, then re-activated the mining before leaving. He then went to see Kara and found her talking to Lara. Zor-El grabbed Kara, who pushed him onto the hologram crystals, injuring him. Zor-El pretended to be sincere before revealing a Crystal of El and wiping her memory once again. He then realized he couldn't make the trip to Earth, so instead pulled out the blue crystal.

Before Krypton exploded, Zor-El sent Kara to Earth in a spaceship along with the blue crystal, which he told Kara would lead her back to all she cherished. After Kara departed Krypton, Zor-El died along with the rest of his people.

Season Seven

Zor-El threatens Lionel.

Twenty-one years later, Zor-El tricked his nephew Kal-El, now known as Clark Kent, into inserting the blue crystal into the Fortress of Solitude's console, re-creating himself and Lara as clones. After his rebirth, he approached Kara and convinced her to trust him, claiming he had changed his ways.

Zor-El fights with Clark.

Zor-El then went to LuthorCorp and threatened Lionel Luthor, Jor-El's Kryptonian vessel, to convince Clark to follow him in dominating Earth. Before Zor-El could kill Lionel, Clark arrived and punched Zor-El, sending him flying out the window of Lionel's office, but Zor-El flew away.

Zor-El strangles his daughter.

Shortly after Clark had been rendered powerless after putting on Jor-El's victory ring (which contained blue kryptonite), Zor-El confronted his nephew and beseeched him to join him in his quest to conquer Earth. When Clark refused, Zor-El attacked him and then abducted Lara. He took her to the Fortress, which he planned to use to cause an eclipse that would wipe out all of humanity, allowing him to take over Earth. However, Zor-El's plan was thwarted when Clark arrived at the Fortress and subdued his uncle with green kryptonite. Zor-El managed to get the kryptonite away from him and grabbed Kara. He was about to impale her on some crystals when Clark destroyed the blue crystal, eliminating Zor-El, Lara, and the victory ring. Zor-El from that forward on was dead once and for all along with his brother and the rest of Krypton.


In the Comics

Zor-El and his wife Alura.

Zor-El as he appears in the comics.

In the Silver Age, Zor-El was a climatographer on Krypton, and one of the only scientists to believe his twin brother Jor-El's predictions about the impending destruction of Krypton. Somehow during Krypton's explosion, the area containing Argo City, Zor-El's hometown, remained intact, and its people were able to survive for many years. Kara was born in the city and grew up there before a meteor shower wrecked the city's crude anti-kryptonite defenses. Zor-El managed to build a rocket and use it to send his daughter to Earth. Fearing that Superman would not recognize her because he had left Krypton as an infant, Kara's parents provided a costume based closely on the Man of Steel's own. Many times through older comics, Zor-El appeared, such as the trips Superman made to Kandor and the time Kal-El researched his family history.

Zor-El and Alura send Kara off.

In the modern comics, Zor-El was believed to be an enemy of his brother's who sent Kara to Earth with the intention of killing Kal-El; these events were in fact false and a ruse. Zor-El has been shown in the current continuity as a member of the Artist Guild, whose wife, a scientist named Alura, designed the ship that carried Kara to Earth during Krypton's destruction. Kara was sent to protect Kal-El and to be the only person who remembered life on Krypton.

Zor-El and Alura are revealed to be alive in the Bottle City of Kandor that Superman discovered; they saved a number of their people before their capture by Brainiac. Zor-El is told his daughter is alive and reunited with her when Kandor is freed, with himself and Alura as the leaders of the new city. He is, unfortunately, murdered by a villain named Reactron during an attack by anti-Kryptonian humans; his death provokes an abrupt change in Alura, who becomes a domineering fascist and instigates the creation of a New Krypton, separating themselves from the humans and plotting against them should they strike against New Krypton.

During Blackest Night  a power ring of the Black Lantern Corps found its way to New Krypton and breached Zor-El's grave. He rose within seconds, reanimated as a Black Lantern. He attacked and defeated several nearby Krpytonians, including Alura and leaving only his daughter Supergirl left to face him.

He taunted and berated her, trying to draw a pure emotional response from her. But she attacked him in a mix of rage and willpower with a punch that obliterated much of his head. It was a tiny victory. His head began regenerating itself immediately, and he promised that she could not stop him from killing all of Kandor.

Zor-El's reanimated corpse and Supergirl fought in the skies of Kandor with Zor-El trying to harvest her heart for the Black Lantern Corps. Meanwhile, the Science Guild succeeded in scanning and analyzing the energy properties of his black power ring. This information allowed them to design an energy field that would keep out Zor-El and any wielding a black power ring. With this knowledge in mind, Alura joined the fight, saving her daughter from Zor-El and driving him out into space. The energy field was established as he tried to go after Alura and Supergirl again, hacking off one of his hands. He pummeled the field to no avail, unable to reach the surface of New Krypton.

Zor-El as Cyborg Superman in DCnU.

In the New 52 Zor-El and his younger brother Jor-El were both the top scientists on Krypton and had different ideas on how to save Krypton from its impending doom. Jor-El wanted to Zor-El's help in perfecting space ships to send everyone of Krypton before it imploded, Zor-El however, wanted to use Brainiac's technology to encapsulate Argo City. However, Jor-El deemed it to dangerous as Brainiac's technology was unproven and could prove hazardous. They argued over the merits and drawback of each other's plans with Zor-El refusing to help Jor-El in his plans. Zor-El was experimenting on his daughter and wanted to sent Kara to Earth without his wife knowing about it. Alura tried to stop him by shooting him in the chest but it was too late Kara's spacecraft was already gone.

Zor-El and millions of Kryptonians survived Krypton's destruction as Brainiac's Capsule had worked. However, before they could get help most of the population died and many members were near death when Brainiac finally answered Zor-El's message for help. Brainiac then experimented on Zor-El's body. He wiped his memories of his life on Krypton, made him smarter and removed many of his organs and limbs and gave him mechanical and cybernetic replacements to try and make the ultimate Kryptonian. Brainiac then sent him to travel the universe to seek other specimens worthy of perfection, so that Brainiac could transform them.

After Cyborg Superman forcibly takes Kara's body to reconstitute his own, it was revealed that he was originally Zor-El. The Cyborg is first seen as a man-behind-the-curtains of I'noxia, a city that is built from the memories of lost worlds. Kara found herself on I'noxia after leaving Earth. There she battled a creature and was instantly accepted by the citizens of that world. She is shown around the world by a custodian who is under the orders of a hidden individual later revealed to be the Cyborg. Originally the Cyborg appears benevolent as he tries to help Kara recreate Krypton. In reality he was just goading her in order to take her body. Kara retaliates but the Cyborg manages to over power her. As the Cyborg goes about re-creating his body it is reveled by the custodian of I'noxia that the Cyborg was under the servitude of Brainiac.


  • Zor-El first appeared in Action Comics #252 (May 1959).
  • Zor-El would have traveled to Earth in the same ship as Kara did in 1986 had he not been injured after Kara pushed him onto the hologram crystals. Kara did not know of this as he wiped her memory using a Crystal of El.
  • Despite being younger than Jor-El, Zor-El had his daughter Kara at least twenty years before Kal-El was born, although it is important to note that Lara had trouble conceiving children. However age is measured on Krypton, it is logical to assume that Kara was born in Zor-El's early-to-mid twenties, while Kal-El was not born until Jor-El was in his early-fifties and Lara was in her mid-forties.
  • Christopher Heyerdahl previously portrayed Dr. Arthur Walsh in the Chloe Chronicles.
  • Zor-El along with his wife Alura appear in the comic book tie-in of the 2013's film Man of Steel, which serves as a prequel and Kara Zor-El appears as the protagonist.
  • Heyerdahl portrayed three other DC Comics characters: The Electrocutioner on Gotham, Damien Darhk's assistant on Arrow, and Captain Locke on Peacemaker.

Other faces of Zor-El


  1. 'Blue'

See also

External links

Kryptonians in Smallville
Main Clark KentKaraZodBrainiacDavis Bloome
House of El Jor-El (AI, clone) • Lara-ElZor-ElConner Kent
Kandorian army Kandorian army: BasqatValaFaoraAliaCoats
Houses House of El (crest) • House of Zod (crest)
Other Disciples of Zod (Nam-Ek, Aethyr) • Dax-UrRayaFaoraKrypton