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Kryptonite is an alien material that originates from the remains of planet Krypton’s explosion. The radioactive piece of mineral came to be known as Superman’s greatest weakness and has been featured in countless comic books, episodes, and movies.
Through the years countless iterations of the material have been created and used against Superman, which is why we put together this comprehensive Superman Kryptonite Guide.
Kryptonite itself became such a huge part of the mythos and popular culture that it became a term widely used to describe someone’s weakness. Since its introduction in comic books in Superman #61, countless versions of the mineral were created, especially during DC’s Pre-Crisis era.
Some of those had the same impact on Kryptonians as the green one, they were just from different dimensions and had a different color.
At introduction, Kryptonite was widely available and had different iterations that appeared through the different Earth’s from DC. In this era of Superman, there was an abundance of Kryptonite that made it possible for countless villains to have their hands on the mineral. They recurrently and commonly carried it with themselves as a safeguard against the interference of Superman.
The explanation used here was that the science used to ensure Kal-El’s ship would arrive on Earth was responsible for bringing in this vast amount of mineral to Earth. Its arrival has been portrayed in different manners but is most commonly associated with the meteor shower that hit Smallville at Kal-El’s arrival.
During this time Kryptonite could be artificially created, which meant that not only it was relatively easy to find, villains were able to recreate it and weaponize it. Lex Luthor for instance was known for creating a variety of Kryptonite throughout the years, mainly when he found himself without access to the original material.
The science behind its effects was explained by stating that the Green Kryptonite and subsequent variations interfered with the absorption of solar radiation natural to Kryptonians. For a brief period in time, it was said that its constant exposure to Krypton’s Red Son, made it so that it would cancel Superman’s abilities, for the same reason Kryptonians didn’t have superpowers in Krypton.
For a long period of time Superman comics, and DC’s Comics in general, wouldn’t really follow a canon or a “main timeline”. Writers had the freedom to write whatever they wanted, and create whatever they wanted for the purpose of a story. This vastly changed Superman’s powers to the extreme, and Kryptonite variations to whatever the story needed.
Check out our guide on the Most Common Comic Book Terms and Phrases Explained here.
Eventually, this made for a character that had power levels exceedingly high, and a myriad of Kryptonite forms that not only made it hard to keep track of but also made creating compelling character-driven stories hard. The number of explanations, origins, effects, abundance, and variations of Kryptonite became overwhelming, and the mineral that made “The Greatest Hero of Them All” weak and exposed was too common.
This posed a problem to story-telling and hence the comic “Kryptonite Nevermore” came up with a plot where an uncanny nuclear accident transforms all the Kryptonite available on Earth into iron, later known as K-Iron. This arc served not only as a way to limit the resource but to also tone down Superman’s power.
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While fans got the chance to see different colors, it eventually became too complex to manage the growing number of variations, their dimensions, and their specific influence over Kryptonians. In April 1985, DC Comics started the Crisis on Infinite Earth storyline, which was a massive event that split everything between Pre and Post-Crisis.
The comic served as a new beginning for DC’s Superhero Universe, and it would end countless dimensions, and simplify the number of universes DC had, which in turn changed the way Kryptonite worked.
The revision of Kryptonite that happened Post-Crisis, changed the element’s origin story. It remained a mineral from Krypton, but it became radioactive after a group of terrorists called “Black Zero” launched a terrorist attack against Krypton’s core. This radiation is responsible for its effect on Kryptonians, and the matter around it.
For humans, the exposure to Kryptonite was up until now harmless, but these new versions showcased that it was in fact harmful. Lex Luthor learned the hard way, that continuous exposure to the radioactive mineral was carcinogenic. During this modern era, Lex Luthors crafted himself a Kryptonite ring, that he constantly used to keep Superman at arm’s length.
Finally, Kryptonite was written in such a way that Green was the only color in which the mineral was found. Since Green was the only form in which it naturally appeared, other colors could only be created through artificial processes. Because it was made from Krypton’s core, there was a finite amount of Kryptonite to be found across the universe. For humanity Kryptonite was an extremely rare thing, in fact, it was believed that only a handful of it found its way to Earth with Kal-El.
This scarcity meant that Green Kryptonite was very hard to come by, which in turn meant that variations were far rarer. The only ways to acquire Kryptonite now were if you had access to the original samples that came with Clark’s ship or find it scattered throughout space. A couple of other events such as Supergirl’s Arrival and Superman/Batman #49, amplified the amount of Kryptonite available.
Kryptonite usage has been far and wide, and most of the color variations that came to be were created to fit specific storylines. In general, it was used as a trope to slow down, depower, or outright stop Superman. It became necessary to stories, as Superman was just too powerful and his weaknesses were too few and far between to truly tell a story with gravitas.
Superman’s most interesting arcs, comics, and stories are related to the morality and philosophy surrounding his choices, interaction, and his virtues. Kryptonite was best used during stories when it amplified those concepts. Such as Clark gifting Batman with the Kryptonite Ring, or the fact that Batman owned a cache of different Kryptonites.
Conversely, the implementation of distinct Kryptonites meant that there were not only higher stakes, but different portrayals of Superman. This means that different stories and effects could shift the character’s personality, and objectives. Posing not only interesting questions about his presence among heroes but also on what it meant to be a hero. The themes of friendship, trust, mortality, betrayal, and other complex concepts were also explored in stories where Kryptonite is a central piece.
Below we will list the most known Kryptonite variations and their effects on Kryptonians and living matter. Their origins are different as they were created during pre-crisis, post-crisis, Smallville, or animated series. However, the existence of the following variations of Kryptonite is generally accepted as canon. In modern comic history, we are now left with:
- Green Kryptonite
- Red Kryptonite
- Gold Kryptonite
- White Kryptonite
- Blue Kryptonite
- Pink Kryptonite
- Silver Kryptonite
- Bizarro Red Kryptonite
- Black Kryptonite
- Jewel Kryptonite
- Slow Kryptonite
- Manufactured Kryptonite
- Magical Kryptonite
- Green Lantern Ring Kryptonite
- Synthetic Kryptonite
- Fake Kryptonite
- Silver Kryptonite
- Yellow Kryptonite
- Kryptonite Plus
- Fake Kryptonite
- Purple Kryptonite
The original and most famous one was originally Red in color, but only a couple of comic appearances later it gained its iconic Green glowing color. This color is the most common, and the natural state of the mineral. Its radioactive properties affect Kryptonians, which means that heroes like Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, Power Girl, and even Krypto the Superdog are all affected by it.
Throughout the years, prolonged exposure to Green Kryptonite was known to be lethal to Kryptonians with power. Canonically, and through most comics, it is believed that exposure to Kryptonite alone is sufficiently damaging to kill a Kryptonian. However, in Smallville, Clark was injected with a fluid made of Green Kryptonite, and his body ejected it right before death, which meant he could survive it.
Green Kryptonite strips away the powers of Kryptonian under the yellow sun. In different comics, the effects were displayed slightly differently. At times Green Kryptonite had an instant effect on Kryptonians and would strip them from their powers.
Later Green Kryptonite would cause severe pain and debilitate Kryptonians without removing their powers, which made sense because anyone with a bit of Kryptonite could kill Superman. And later it was shown that the effects weren’t immediate, but Superman’s powers would be weakened through exposure.
Green Kryptonite generates immense physical pain, reduces the powers of Kryptonians, and debilitates them. For humans or Kryptonians without powers, exposure to it for short periods of time has no known consequences. It has been proven to be carcinogenic through continuous exposure because of its radiation, much like other radioactive elements.
Green Kryptonite was known as Superman’s biggest weakness through the years, however, there were moments in time when Clark was unaffected. During other story arcs, Superman and Superboy were both shown to develop immunity to the effects of Kryptonite.
The most shown form of achieving this immunity is through time and exposure to the Earth’s yellow sun, older Supermans feel the effects of Green Kryptonite in a mild manner.
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This variation occurred naturally when the debris of Krypton passed through a mysterious cosmic cloud with red color, which altered the Green Kryptonite into Red Kryptonite. The effects of this variety are highly inconsistent, and the best way to describe it is that it alters Kryptonians in unpredictable ways. It will also affect Kryptonians that have no powers or are under their own red sun.
Since Red Kryptonite had a wide range of effects, it also has a peculiar property that the other chunks of the rock don’t carry. No two pieces can have the same effect, and once affected by a piece of it Kryptonians cannot be affected by that particular Kryptonite anymore. This translates into Kryptonians becoming immune to that particular piece of Kryptonite.
Most Kryptonite variations affect Kryptonians as long as they are exposed to the mineral. The red version, however, acts almost like a poison where its damaging effects have a natural duration and cycle on the body. Usually, the effects last between one and three days and naturally fade out. It isn’t lethal or permanent, but some versions of it were shown to have consistent effects as long as a Kryptonian is near, or in contact with it.
A small sample of effects is below:
- Aged teenage Jor-El into Manhood
- Becoming Evil
- Transformed into a Dragon
- Becoming Color Blind
- Accelerating The Aging Process
- Loss Of Powers
- Swapping Powers
- Beard Growth
- Vulnerability on the left side of the body
- Mind Reading Abilities
- Weight Gain
- Split Personality
- Loss Of Inhibition
The list could go on and on with the wildest effects you can imagine. These effects were seen on Kryptonians in general, and not only Superman.
During Smallville, the fourth episode of season two had an episode titled “Red”, where the Red Kryptonite made its first appearance. It would go on to make appearances throughout the series, until its end in season ten.
The episode popularized brought the Red variation into the mainstream public, and there its effects made Clark become a “bad boy”. He was borderline evil, breaking the law and acting in self-interest alone. Smallville, unlike the comics, had the Red Kryptonite act in the same fashion throughout the series.
The Gold version of Kryptonite is one of the most powerful, and consequently scarce in the DC Universe. It has the ability to permanently strip Kryptonians of their powers under the yellow sun. It made its debut in Adventure Comics #299 and was seldomly used because of the impact it had on Kryptonians.
Playing an important role on a handful of Superman comics, it has appearances in canon and non-canon storylines. It also made an appearance on Smallville, during season ten’s Finale, where Darkseid planned on stripping Clark of his powers through a Gold Kryptonite wedding ring.
See also: Superman vs Darkseid: Battle of the Gods
Conceptualized and brought into the DC Universe in 1960, through Adventure Comics #279, White Kryptonite is an interesting variation of the mineral. Created through unknown processes in space, it kills all plant life independent of its origins. This means non-Kryptonian plant-based life is equally affected by it. No side effects were shown on humans, alien life, or Kryptonians, confirming that it only kills plants.
Blue Kryptonite has the opposite chemical properties of Green Kryptonite. In comic books, it made its debut in Superman #140, and it would make various appearances in stories that involved Bizarro Kryptonite. It had the same impact on Bizarro, as the Green Kryptonite had on Kryptonians, causing extreme pain, debilitating him, and reducing his powers greatly.
Blue Kryptonite also changed Bizarro’s personality on some occasions. He became extremely intelligent, polite, and generally good. This variation even went by the name Bizarro Kryptonite for a while.
In Smallville, however, the Blue Kryptonite appeared in the form of a family ring given to Jor-El and passed down through generations. Kal-El’s mother Lara Lor-Van gives him the ring without knowing that it has been tampered with, and the Blue Kryptonite would strip Clark temporarily from his powers. Nonetheless, it was used to defeat Bizarro in the television show as well.
Shown only once in Superman comic books, the Pink Kryptonite appeared in an alternate timeline. The variation debuted in Supergirl #79, and it had the effect of turning heterosexual Kryptonians into homosexuals for a while. A variation of this side effect was shown in Justice League Action, a short story where it flips the physical gender of Kryptonians.
Silver Kryptonite was shown to have two different effects on Kryptonians. The first one is a funny one, as the mineral affects Kryptonians in the same manner as THC (Cannabis) has on human beings. It could cause hallucinations, distortion of reality, disinhibition, and even hunger. The second way it affected Kryptonians was shown in Smallville and Supergirl (TV Show), where Clark and Kara had hallucinations, and became increasingly paranoid the more they were in contact with the rock.
Bizarro Red Kryptonite
For all intents and purposes, this rarely seen variation has no effects on Kryptonians whatsoever. Instead, it is known to cause the side effects of Red Kryptonite, on human beings.
Introduced in Smallville’s fourth season premiere this version would later be introduced into comic books. Most of its appearances portray its effects as seen on the television show, being used to split the personality of Kryptonians. Later iterations showcased as it physically splitting people into a “good” and “bad” side, making Clark become evil, and finally causing Kryptonians to go insane.
From Krypton’s famous Jewel Mountains, the Jewel Kryptonite allowed prisoners, and people trapped inside the Phantom Zone to use psychic powers to interact with the outside world. Jewel Kryptonite was used by the Injustice League to also enhance the powers of one of the psychic villains.
In Smallville, the Jewel Kryptonite allowed Clark to influence people telepathically. People would follow his whims and suggestions, but could only be affected by it once.
Rarely seen Anti-Kryptonite had the same effects as the traditional Green Kryptonite in Kryptonians that had no powers. In a parallel dimension where Clark Kent becomes Ultraman, the leader of the villainous crime syndicate, Anti-Kryptonite, had the same effects of the Green Kryptonite on him.
Created in a scientific accident by Kara Zor-El, during her studies of Green Kryptonite, X-Kryptonite had no known effects on Kryptonians but was able to temporarily bestow Kryptonian superpowers to living beings from Earth.
This variation acts almost as a homing device towards any object or life form from Krypton. Created by the villain Nero, Magno-Kryptonite seeks and finds anything that originated from Krypton. Its magnetic force is extremely powerful, not even Superman can escape it.
Also known as Kryptisium, this variation was created when Cyborg Superman blasted the Eradicator with Green Kryptonite. Saved by the explosion by the Eradicator, Superman was hit with the debris and a now clean, pure version of the Green Kryptonite, this variation came to be known as Kryptonite-X.
At the time it restored Superman’s powers, and eventually accelerated his ability to absorb sunlight and store energy.
Named after the different frequencies it radiates, the Slow Kryptonite is a variation of Green Kryptonite, scientifically created by Metallo to affect human beings. It has the same effects on humans as Green Kryptonite has on powered Kryptonians.
There are three known variations of created or replicated Kryptonite without access to the original sample:
Created by the extremely powerful Mr. Mxyzptlk, genies, and other magical entities it replicates the effects of Green Kryptonite, or any color conjured. Since magic affects Superman, it makes logical sense that magical versions of Kryptonite would have the same effect as the original one.
Green Lantern Ring Kryptonite
It was shown in comic books that the Green Lantern Corps, can replicate the radiation, and thus the effects of Green Kryptonite. Unlike some other fabricated versions, this iteration is known to have the full effects, and be just as debilitating as Green Kryptonite.
No other versions were seen to be projected, but it is speculated that if Green Rings can replicate the effects of Green Kryptonite, different rings could theoretically replicate the effects of other colors of Kryptonite.
Scientifically created this version of Kryptonite, replicates the effects of either Green or Red Kryptonite. It was developed in different arcs by Bruce Wayne, and Lex Luthor, it is known to be an extremely difficult and expensive process. Unlike the other two forms of “fabricated’ Kryptonite, the synthetic versions aren’t as powerful as the real thing. It decays twice as fast and becomes useless quickly.
Throughout the story of Superman comics, a couple of unique Kryptonites were shown. Some of them were nothing but hoaxes, jokes, or had comical and non-threatening/lethal effects.
Yes, there is a Silver Kryptonite that actually has effects on Kryptonians, but this version was nothing but an internal joke, and a hoax by Superman’s best friend. It is given to Clark Kent, as an aging joke by Jimmy Olsen to celebrate his life. It didn’t truly have any powers or effects, just a friendly joke.
A Yellow Sphere is used by Lex Luthor to keep Superman at distance. This particular stone didn’t have any radioactive properties, wasn’t made from Green Kryptonite, and wasn’t from Krypton, it was used as a prop and to create mind games. Lex utilized it for a while in the hopes that the threat of being under the effect of something unknown would be enough to dissuade Superman from stopping Lex.
A collection of around thirty stones possessed by super aliens that were left on Earth’s moon. It was communicated that they were extremely powerful versions of Kryptonite, dubbed Kryptonite Plus, or Ultra-Kryptonite. Eventually, the stones were identified as Tikron Stones, which were harmless and had no impact whatsoever on Superman.
Making its debut in Superboy’s television show, the fake Kryptonite was nothing but crystals sold by vendors in an attempt to raise money for charity. This version was known to be fake and had no intention of fooling or repelling Superboy. The good nature and motivations behind the commercialization of the “fake Kryptonite” were something that didn’t bother our heroes and wasn’t seen as evil.
A very silly version of Kryptonite, that wasn’t truly Kryptonite. It made an appearance on the animated series Krypto the Superdog. When exposed to it, the Purple Kryptonite made Krypto the Superdog chase his tail exposure to it.
Question: Can Kryptonite be made?
Answer: Yes, Kryptonite has been created from scratch. It was a more common practice during the pre-crisis era, but Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne were shown creating it. The process was very difficult, expensive, and thus not accessible to anyone.
Question: When was Kryptonite introduced?
Answer: Contrary to popular belief it wasn’t created in the comic books. It came into existence in a Superman radio show and it later was adapted into comic books. Originally it was also red but became its classic Glowing Green a couple of comic editions later.
Question: What did Purple Kryptonite do?
Answer: Purple Kryptonite was shown to have the exact same effects as Green Kryptonite. Fans of the Superman saga speculated that it was one of the rarest versions of Kryptonite and that it eventually disappeared because of its scarcity. The most common explanation however was that it was a coloring or printing mistake.
Question: Can Kryptonite make Superman faster?
Answer: Regular versions of Kryptonite are known to only have negative side effects on Superman, however, Kryptonite-X empowered Clark even more. He became much stronger and more able to store energy than he ever was. Eventually, some side effects started presenting themselves but for a brief moment, he became more powerful.
Question: Where can Kryptonite be found?
Answer: Kryptonite can now only be found, or altered by owning an original sample of Kryptonian debris that fell in Smallville, or by finding the debris in space.
Question: Are all Kryptonians affected by Kryptonite?
Answer: Different Kryptonites affect living beings differently. There are variations of Kryptonite that affect powered Kryptonians, non-powered Kryptonians, animals, plants. General Zod for instance was shown to be unaffected by the Jewel Kryptonite for example.
Question: How did Kryptonite come to Earth?
Answer: It came through the same experimental warp drive that brought Clark’s ship to Smallville. The debris came alongside him, but in other versions, a piece of Green Kryptonite came with Kal-El to Earth. Later the arrival of Kara Zor-El and other Kryptonians brought more debris and chunks of Kryptonite to Earth.
Question: Can Kryptonite kill Superman?
Answer: The general consensus and cannon state that prolonged exposure to Green Kryptonite is enough to kill Superman. However, some versions of Superman were able to survive or outright become invulnerable and immune to it.
Kryptonite has had many variations throughout the years, and above we have mentioned the most famous and the ones who had more prominence in the comic books. This list does not compile every single iteration of Kryptonite ever presented, since pre-crisis and different television shows from other Kryptonian characters have created countless other iterations of the mineral.
The guide above focuses on the main forms of Kryptonite that Superman came in contact with, and the ones that impacted his mythos the most. As a fan, or someone curious now you can better understand the various effects and versions of the world’s greatest hero’s main weakness.