By all accounts, one of the bad ideas from the bleak early 2000s attempts to revive Superman has actually made it into the upcoming Man of Steel. But is it such a bad idea? Possible spoilers will follow.
So, here it goes: Instead of sending his son Kal-El away to Earth to save him from an exploding Krypton, Jor-El apparently packs him off to save him from a bloody civil war that the House of El is about to be on the losing end of. This is something the trailers hint at, and is supposedly why we see Zod, lots of Kryptonians, and lots of spaceships in the trailers.
However, a few points do need to be made, starting with:
Kryptonians May Still Be Around, But Krypton Might Not Be
Zod is the kind of insane despot willing to drop a planet-cracker to make a point. Since the entire Earth is threatened in this movie, and Hollywood screenwriters are painfully predictable creatures, my guess is that said planet-cracker will be making an appearance early on in the movie, and turn up again during the third act. Or, of course, Zod has been chasing after Kal-El and left behind a doomed planet. Really, we have multiple options for Zod dickery to choose from here.
Even In The Comics, Superman Was Nowhere Close To The Last Kryptonian
You know, for a supposedly extinct species there are a hell of a lot of Kryptonians running around. Argo City survives for a while as just a floating rock in space, there’s the bottle city of Kandor which never gets expanded up to normal size because Superman is a dick, Kryptonians boned some of the natives on another planet and spawned the Daxamites, there’s Zod and all the other criminals dumped in the Phantom Zone, and this isn’t even getting into the various robots, animals, plants, oh, and biological weapons like Doomsday Krypton apparently dumped on Earth because screw you, that’s why.
So there’s a lot of leeway here for Zod and his crew to show up and kick ass without sparing Krypton.
It’s Kind Of Unrealistic That Jor-El Is The Only Seismologist On A Planet Of Scientists
Granted, using the term “realism” to describe a fake planet named after a gas populated by either pulp SF tropes or asexual intellectual weirdoes is a bit much. But you have to admit, planet-shattering forces are, scientifically, really, really hard to miss. Jor-El sending his son away because he doesn’t want him violently murdered by a despotic lunatic makes a lot more sense, as a story, than his being the only seismologist with a working brain on a planet that is canonically unstable, geologically speaking.
It Doesn’t Change The Overall Theme Of The Story
Many arguments are made that Superman was so popular at first because of his origin: In many ways, Superman is the ultimate American, somebody who emigrates here in desperate circumstances, only to rise to be the best of the best. In 1938, that was almost freakishly resonant with the experience of too many kids, newly minted Americans and scared out of their wits. Unfortunately, it only got moreso as time went on.
Even today, it’s a little hard to argue that a man being chased from his home by a despotic tyrant isn’t a fairly common part of the American immigration experience. Making the destruction metaphorical rather than literal doesn’t change the tone of the story much. Superman is still a man without a home, and most importantly, he’s still the good guy.