A new trailer for the upcoming Man of Steel has arrived, and with it, a lot of new characters to speak of! First of all, let’s see Jor-El, Superman‘s father, who’s portrayed in the new movie by Russell Crowe. Jor-El has made an appearance in almost every live action portrayal of his son, and many famous actors gave him face and voice. Marlon Brando, who appeared in three different movies (included a digital appearance in Superman Returns) is maybe the most famous Jor-El of all time, but with him we can cite also ex James Bond George Lazenby (Superboy), Terrence Stamp and Julian Sands (Smallville), and the first of them all, Nelson Leigh (Superman and Atom Man vs. Superman). Despite dying before Superman’s adventures begin, Jor-El has quite a story for himself.
At first, Jor-El was quite neglected by the authors, who referred to him briefly as “a scientist from dying planet Krypton who decided to save his only son by sending him to Earth“. In the years, many writers tried to tell also the story of Superman’s father, a story that went under a lot of retcons and retelling, but that can be summarize as it follows. Jor-El was born inside one of the most ancient families on Krypton, the House of El, and was a direct descendant of mad scientist Kem-El, a xenophobic genius that created the Eradicator, an artificial intelligence programmed to maintain the purity of his race. Jor-El was very different from his ancestor, and made a name for himself being a progressive scientist and politician. When he was paired with Lara Lor-Van, the woman who was his best genetic match, Jor-El put up quite a scandal by requesting to meet her before having a child with her, believing in a kind of relationship going beyond simple chromosomes’ compatibility. Eventually, Jor-El and Lara fell in love, and they started to live together. They “created” a son fusing their cells, and the baby, named Kal-El, was put into an artificial womb, the Matrix Chamber, in which he would have fully developed before the birth. Lara helped Jor-El in his work whenever she could, and the scientist became famous on Krypton after many inventions that changed the life of his people, first of all the Phantom Zone, a dimensional prison Jor-El was the architect of. Jor-El built it believing it was a more human way of incarcerating criminals, not knowing what kind of hell lurked beyond the Phantom Zones’ gates.
It was during his time as a renowned and celebrated scientist that Jor-El began to study, along with his friend and mentor Non, the strange plague that was affecting Krypton, the Green Death, and the strange meteorological phenomena occurring in those days. With the help of Non and Lara, Jor-El found out that, deep in the core of the planet, Krypton was suffering from severe geological disturbances. These were caused by a lethal reaction started by criminal Black Zero, a reaction that created a new element that was disturbing the planet’s balance and was infecting the population. Jor-El immediately understood the risks of this ongoing process, and tried to speak to the Kryptonian Science Council, the planet’s government. The Council refused to listen to Jor-El and Non, and had them arrested for blasphemy: there was a sacred law that declared that the Council knew everything, and something like a global catastrophe or simply a new element forming in the core of the planet couldn’t elude the Council’s attention. The two scientists were freed little after, with the command of staying silent about their “theories”, in order to avoid spreading panic, paranoia and discord. Non wasn’t able to stay silent, anyway, and, after speaking publicly about the upcoming disaster, he was lobotomized by the Council. Looking at what had happened to his friend, Jor-El chose to keep the terrible secret, warning only his brother and fellow scientist Zor-El. He refused the proposal of General Zod, a soldier who believed him and Non and that wanted to overthrow the Council to save the population: Jor-El wasn’t a violent man, and didn’t believe that a civil war was a possible path, and was forced to report Zod to the Council and to exile him and his companion Ursa to the Phantom Zone. After the incident with Zod, Jor-El resigned to die with his planet, but wanted to save his son nevertheless. Searching for a suitable planet to send Kal-El to, one of his probes reached Earth: on this little planet, the probe was found by a man, Thomas Wayne, who, touching it, had his consciousness temporarily sent to Krypton. In here, Jor-El and Wayne met and spoke, thus convincing Jor-El that Earth was the right place to have his son grow up in. Along with Lara, he built a rocket in which he put, in addition to Kal-El himself, a recording of Kryptonian technology and culture, and an artificial pattern of his and his wife’s personalities. Jor-El and Lara shared their final moments as Kal-El’s ship flew away directed to Earth, and the planet exploded around them.
Jor-El is an extremely intelligent man, one of the top minds of his planet. He doesn’t have any special powers apart from his scientific genius, that allowed him to build servant robots and even a bio-support suit that slowed his aging process and allowed him to avoid eating, sleeping or drinking. He’s a pacific and noble man, who despises violence and firmly believes in knowledge and science. Despite this, he’s not as cold as other Kryptonians regarding personal relationships, and has developed a close bond of love and affection with his wife Lara and his newborn son Kal-El.