After the mother(s), it’s time to take a look at the father(s) appearing in Supergirl trailer. When Kara is sent to Earth from a dying Krypton, we can spot her father, Zor-El, portrayed by Robert Gant, standing behind Alura; his role in the show will likely be minimal, since the guidance part will be entrusted to his wife, but we’ll see. In the 1984 movie, he was portrayed by Simon Ward, a peaceful scientist leaving on Argo City who could do nothing but watch as his heroic daughter left on a solo mission to Earth. There’s been yet another version of Zor-El, this time in Smallville, where he was portrayed by Christopher Heyerdahl: this time, he was a villainous character, a corrupt councilman who loathed his brother Jor-El and who antagonized him on everything, including his love for Lara Lor-Van; he appeared as a secondary villain in season 7, trying to exact his revenge on Jor-El through his son Kal-El, coming back as a replicant. Now, waiting to see what kind of a role Zor-El will have in Supergirl, let’s see who he is in the comics.
Zor-El was born on Krypton, and he was the younger son of the leader of the Science Council, Seyg-El. Zor-El grew up with his beloved older brother, Jor-El, but differently from him he didn’t follow Seyg-El’s footsteps, and he dedicated himself to something different than science (although he was a pretty skilled engineer, among other things). He became a Ranger, serving Krypton differently from most of his ancestors in the House of El, and because of his creative and passionate nature he even became a prominent member of the Artist Guild. In his youth years, Zor-El moved from the capital Kryptonopolis to Argo City, where he met the woman he desperately fell in love with: Alura, a brilliant scientist who had apparently erased every emotion from her heart in order to perfect her skills as a researcher. Only Zor-El of all people managed to see through the facade Alura had built in order to look more “professional”, and he passionately courted her, reawakening feelings and emotions she believed she had cancelled a long time before. Alura finally reciprocated Zor-El’s love, and they got married. They settled in Argo City, and they had a daughter, Kara, who inherited her mother’s brilliance and her father’s creativity. Zor-El’s family lived happily for a while, until Krypton faced a series of catastrophes one after the other: first the alien Brainiac attacked the planet, shrank one of its greatest cities, Kandor, and took it along with its entire population, then the leader of the army General Zod rebelled and tried a coup d’etat; finally, Jor-El’s researches brought him to the conclusion that Krypton’s core was about to explode, but the Science Council didn’t believe him. Zor-El, trusting his brother, supported him in front of the council, but with no result: so, he helped his wife reverse-engineering Brainiac’s technology to create a force field to protect the planet, but time wasn’t enough, so they only managed to save Argo City. Krypton died, and most of its population along with it: only Argo City remained as a legacy of one of the greatest civilizations ever lived.
Even Argo City, however, wasn’t exactly a safe place, as Brainiac came back to understand who was using his technology: just before he could sum Argo City’s population to Kandor’s for his researches, Zor-El and Alura sent Kara to Earth, the same planet on which Jor-El and Lara had sent their infant son, Kal-El, so that she could raise him. Then, Zor-El, his wife and many of his fellow citizens were abducted by Brainiac, while all the others were killed. The Kryptonians survivors lived in Brainiac’s mother-ship until they were saved by Superman, the man infant Kal-El had become: Superman brought the bottled city to his Fortress of Solitude, a remote refuge near Earth’s North Pole, and he studied along with Kandor’s scientists a way to return city and people to normal size. Eventually, he succeeded, and Zor-El and the others could finally start a new life. Kandor was located near the Fortress of Solitude (cold temperature wasn’t a problem for Kryptonians, since Earth’s yellow sun granted them unimaginable powers), but they were obviously seen as a potential threat by Earth’s government, being a new nation of alien origins, small but entirely inhabited by people with the same abilities as Superman. Zor-El tried to convince his fellow Kryptonians that they had to adapt to the new environment and to try and communicate with earthlings, aiming to a peaceful meeting of cultures, but there was a faction that wanted to preserve Kryptonian culture from any outsider influence (and soon Alura became the leader of this rival faction). Zor-El was elected ambassador of Kandor, and he attended meetings with Earth’s leaders to try and find a peaceful agreement. In Washington, D.C. he met the President of the United States of America (Earth’s most powerful nation), Jonathan Horne, and participated to a summit with all the greatest presidents and prime ministers, but the meeting was interrupted by a humongous monster, Doomsday, one of Superman’s deadliest enemies. Zor-El and the Kryptonian delegation, working together, managed to defeat the monster, and that was taken as a sign of good faith from the earthlings. The first step for a peaceful cohabitation had been made, but Zor-El would have learnt soon enough that the biggest threat to peace came from inside his own house.
Zor-El is a noble and enlightened man, who perfectly understands the limits of his science-centered culture and tries to surpass them through the re-discovery of unscientific elements such as art and emotions. Passionate, yet calm and reflective, Zor-El works for peace and understanding in every situation he’s in, always trying to do the best for his people. As all Kryptonians, on Earth he possesses amazing powers granted to him by the yellow sun: immense strength, speed, stamina and durability, flight, freezing breath, heat vision, heightened senses, x-ray vision and much more. Even as powerful as he has become, however, Zor-El remains the same man of peace he’s always been, refusing to see earthlings as weaklings to be conquered by Kryptonians, but wanting them as partners in a common future for both peoples.