David S. Goyer (Constantine, DaVinci's Demons) is lending his talents to the Syfy network and developing a Superman prequel that takes place many years before the demise of the planet and the jettison of baby Kal-El to earth. Gotham has proven people will watch a show set in Batman's hometown without him but will audiences tune in to a world of Superman's relatives?
The premise as described by THR, "Krypton takes place years before the Superman legend we know, when the House of El was shamed and ostracized. This drama, which is in development, follows the Man of Steel's grandfather as he brings hope and equality to Krypton, turning a planet in disarray into one worthy of giving birth to the greatest Super Hero ever known."
Goyer along with Ian Goldberg came up with the story idea and will write and executive produce the series. Goyer, apart from his television projects, helped bring The Man of Steel to the big screen and established a Krypton that incorporated sci-fi and fantasy elements that reinvigorated the franchise. The question is can they continue that level of world building effects on a cable TV budget?
The short answer is no but the network has committed to more original programming that is both ambitious and expansive. Syfy has an impressive slate of science fiction shows including Dominion, Ascension, 12 Monkeys, Olympus, Z Nation, The Expanse, Childhood's End, Hunters, Dark Matter and 3001: The Final Odyssey. Krypton would seem to fit in the line-up as presumably a political drama set in another galaxy but where Gotham had some familiar characters we could identify who will be the touchstones for an entirely new audience?
This is Superman's grandfather and not even his father Jor-El. The show will introduce new characters and new situations that set it apart from the many DC Comics based shows already on the air like Arrow, The Flash, and Constantine and upcoming shows like Supergirl and Titans. Those shows have a published history, a built-in fanbase or at the very least a thread of familiarity. Can they produce a compelling drama that will satiate discerning comic book fans while attracting Syfy's science fiction base of viewers?
On the positive side, Goyer was capable of making a fun and thrilling series out of a fictionalized account of Renaissance virtuoso Leonardo Da Vinci with Starz' Da Vinci's Demons and he was partly responsible for the look of Krypton in Zack Snyder's film so if anyone can make this work it's him. A strong diverse cast and a production design that comes anywhere close to the film could just be enough to lure skeptical fans.
Also, since Krypton will air on basic cable the bar will be significantly lower that were it on broadcast television. It won't have to pull in 8 million viewers and a 20 share every episode. It could garner a nice consistent growing viewership if it's halfway interesting.
An odd choice for development for sure when the DC Comics archives are deep with established characters of all kinds but in this golden age of comic book television apparently anything goes.