This article is about the fictional material from the Superman mythos. For other uses, see Kryptonite (disambiguation).

The character Superman suffering from kryptonite poisoning, courtesy of villains Metallo and Titano
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Radio:
The Adventures of Superman
(June 1943)
Superman #61
(November 1949)
In story information
Type Element
Element of stories featuring Superman

Kryptonite is a material from the Superman fictional universe, specifically the ore form of a radioactive element (Pre-Crisis)[1] or compound (Post-Crisis)[2] from Superman's home planet of Krypton. First mentioned in The Adventures of Superman radio show in June 1943, the material has been featured in a variety of forms and colors (each with its own effect) in DC Comics publications and other media, including feature films, television series, and novelty items such as toys and trading card sets.

The established premise is that Superman and other Kryptonian characters are susceptible to its radiation, which created usage of the term in popular culture as a reference to an individual's perceived weakness, changes their personality, irrespective of its nature,[3] similar to the term "Achilles' heel."


An unpublished 1940 story titled "The K-Metal from Krypton," which Superman creator Jerry Siegel himself wrote, featured a prototype of kryptonite, a mineral from the planet Krypton that drained Superman of his strength while giving humans superhuman powers.[4]

A mineral actually named "kryptonite" was introduced in the story arc "The Meteor from Krypton" in June 1943 on The Adventures of Superman radio series. Since radio shows had to be performed by real people, when Clayton "Bud" Collyer, the actor who played Superman and Clark Kent, wanted permission to take a vacation from the series, Superman was placed in a kryptonite trap, and a stand-in groaned with pain for several episodes until Collyer came back from his vacation.

In 1949, kryptonite was incorporated into the comic mythos with issue #61 of Superman. In August 1993, pioneering female editor Dorothy Woolfolk stated in an interview with Florida newspaper Today that she had found Superman's invulnerability dull, and that DC's flagship hero might be more interesting with an Achilles' heel such as adverse reactions to a fragment of his home planet.[5]

Kryptonite gradually appeared more frequently, causing science fiction writer Larry Niven to theorize in tongue-in-cheek fashion that Krypton was in fact a Dyson sphere or a cold neutron star, and that this was the underlying reason for so much of the mineral finding its way to Earth courtesy of meteor showers.[6] In an effort to reduce the use of kryptonite in storylines, all known forms on Earth were transmuted into "k-iron" in a 1971 story arc[7] titled "The Sandman Saga".[8]

Forms, colors and their effects

Various forms of the fictional mineral have been created in the Superman publications:

GreenOriginally red in color, the mineral debuted in Superman #61 (November 1949) and did not adopt its characteristic green hue until Action Comics #161 (Aug. 1951). Green kryptonite weakens Superman and other Kryptonians. The character has been shown to become immune to the effects of green kryptonite due to either repeated non-fatal exposure,[9] continuous long-term absorption of solar radiation,[10] or extremely high short-term exposure to the sun.[11] Post-Crisis sources establish that green kryptonite is also harmful to humans given sufficient long-term exposure, resulting in cancer as Lex Luthor discovered as a result of a ring with a kryptonite jewel he wore to ward off Superman's presence.[12]
Red Debuted in Adventure Comics #252 (Sept. 1958). Originally it simply weakened Superman, but to a greater degree. Later, it was described as causing bizarre behavior and transformations.
Anti-Kryptonite Debuted in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). Harmless to Kryptonians, but has the same effect as the green variety on normal humans. The power source for one version of the character Ultraman, Superman's evil counterpart.[13]
X-Kryptonite Debuted in Action Comics #261 (Jan. 1960). Created by the character Supergirl in an unsuccessful attempt to find an antidote to green kryptonite. Harmless to Kryptonians, the mineral gives normal life-forms superhuman abilities, as in the case of Supergirl's pet cat Streaky. Revised in Superman Family #203 (Oct. 1980) to have the same effect as the green variety on kryptonians.
Blue Debuted in Superman #140 (Oct. 1960). An "imperfect" form of kryptonite which affects the imperfect character Bizarro in the same way the green variety of kryptonite affects Superman. It also affects members of the Bizarro League in the same way. Blue kryptonite is the antidote to the random and bizarre effects of Red krytonite.
White Debuted in Adventure Comics #279 (Dec. 1960). Kills all plant life, from any world.
Red-Green: first variety Debuted in Action Comics #275 (April 1961). An alloy created by the villainous character Brainiac, it caused Superman to mutate, temporarily growing a third eye in the back of his head.
Gold Debuted in Adventure Comics #299 (Aug. 1962). Kryptonite affected by atomic radiation, and capable of permanently removing a Kryptonian's ability to process yellow sunlight, which in turn nullifies all superhuman abilities. Post-Crisis, this kryptonite only removes a Kryptonian's powers temporarily.[14]
Red-Green-Blue-Gold Debuted in Superman #162 (July 1963). An imaginary story in which Superman combines the minerals to power a device to boost his intelligence. An explosion causes a mishap and the character is split into two separate beings ("Superman-Blue" and "Superman-Red"), both of whom possess enhanced intelligence.
Silver Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70 (July 1963). Revealed by Jimmy Olsen to be a hoax. In Superman/Batman #46 (April 2008), silver kryptonite was re-introduced, on this occasion shown to be authentic as it causes Kryptonians to suffer from altered perceptions, loss of inhibition, and extreme hunger cravings.
Jewel Debuted in Action Comics #310 (March 1964). Fragments of Krypton's Jewel Mountains. Amplifies the psychic powers of the criminals imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, allowing the characters to project illusions or perform mind control.
Bizarro Red Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #80 (Oct. 1964). Affects humans the same manner that red kryptonite affects Kryptonians.
Red-Green : second variety Debuted in Superboy Comics #121 (June 1965). This caused Superboy to lose his powers permanently, but Phantom Zone criminal Vakox unwillingly cured him, restoring his powers.
Red-Gold Debuted in Superman #178 (July 1965). Temporarily deprives Kryptonians of their memories.
Magno-Kryptonite Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #92 (April 1966). Artificially created by the villain Mr. Nero, the mineral is magnetically attracted to all substances originally from Krypton.
Red-Green-Gold Debuted in Superman #192 (Jan. 1967). An imaginary story in which the alloy permanently removes the character's abilities and memories of ever having been Superman.
Slow Debuted in The Brave and the Bold #175 (June 1981). A modified variety of green kryptonite produced by supervillan Metallo that affects humans in a manner similar to the green mineral.
Kryptonite-X Debuted in The Adventures of Superman #511 (April 1994). A one-time fluke, Kryptonite-X was created when the character the Eradicator filtered a harmful barrage of kryptonite discharged by the villain Cyborg Superman at Superman. The result was actually beneficial: "supercharging" the character and restoring his ability to process solar radiation.
Pink Debuted in Supergirl vol. 4 #79 (April 2003). Seemingly turns Kryptonians gay. This type of kryptonite was mentioned in a single panel in a story that was a satire of the plots of the many Silver Age comic stories (such as those above in this list) which featured some strange new form of kryptonite.
BlackDebuted in Supergirl #2 (vol. 5, Oct. 2005). Can split a Kryptonian into two separate entities: one good and the other evil.
Orange Debuted in Krypto the Superdog #4 (Feb. 2007). Gives super abilities to any animal that comes into contact with it for 24 hours.
PeriwinkleDebuted in Superman Family Adventures #9 (March 2013). A non-canon story, exposure causes Kryptonians to lose all inhibitions.
Superman and Jimmy Olsen discuss the mineral kryptonite, with the jewel variant making its debut in Action Comics #310 (March 1964).
Art by Curt Swan.

Other varieties of the mineral have appeared but have been revealed to be hoaxes, such as yellow (Action Comics #277, June 1961), "kryptonite plus" (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #126 Jan. 1970) and "blood" (52 #13, Aug. 2006).

In other media


Columbia Pictures produced two 15-part motion picture serials that used kryptonite as a plot device: Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).



Animated series

Video games




  1. Superman #130
  2. Action Comics #591
  3. "TvTropes". TvTropes. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  4. Jones, Gerard. Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, 2004, pg. 181-183, ISBN 0-465-03656-2
  5. Tippens, Norman. "Dorothy Woolfolk, Superman Editor," Daily Press (Hampton, Virginia), December 6, 2000. WebCitation archive.: As related by Tippens, who notes, "although there is no definitive record".
  6. Niven, Larry. "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex", All the Myriad Ways (Ballantine Books, 1971).
  7. Superman #233-235 (Jan. - March), #237-238 (May - June), #240 -242 (July - Sept.)
  8. McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. New editor Julius Schwartz, new scripter Denny O'Neil, and regular artist Curt Swan removed the Man of Steel's greatest weakness from the face of the Earth.
  9. Superboy #58, July 1957
  10. Kingdom Come #1 - 4 (May - Aug. 1996)
  11. All-Star Superman #1 (Jan, 2006), DC Comics
  12. Byrne, John; Giordano, Dick (May 1988). "Games People Play". Action Comics. 1 (500): 8.
  13. JLA:Earth 2 (Sep. 2000).
  14. Action Comics Annual #11 (July 2008)
  15. "'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice': 6 EW exclusive photos". Entertainment Weekly. July 2, 2015.

External links

Look up Appendix:DC Comics/Kryptonite in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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