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"There's always hope."
—Zor-El to Kara Zor-El[src]

Zor-El is the brother of the late Jor-El, the husband of Alura Zor-El, the father of Kara Zor-El, and the paternal uncle of Kal-El, as well as one of the most respected scientists of Krypton.


Original multiverse

Early life

Zor-El was born on the planet Krypton, into the prestigious House of El. He had a brother, Jor-El, and they both became scientists after reaching adulthood.

Zor-El fell in love with a judicator named Alura, who later became his wife. In 1966, the two had a daughter, Kara.[1]

When Kara was eight years old, she gave Zor-El a statue of a winged creature she made herself, but was upset that the wings weren't perfect. Nonetheless, Zor-El treasured the statue, assuring Kara it was fine just the way it was and that he loved her.[2] Zor-El would often bring Kara to his lab while he worked and even sought his daughter's help when facing difficulties.[3] At some point, he took Kara to the planet Starhaven[4] and the Well of Stars.[5]

Project Medusa

At one point in his life, the Ruling Counsel of Krypton ordered Zor-El to create the Medusa virus, a synthetic bioweapon designed to eradicate all extraterrestrial life other than Kryptonians as a fail-safe mechanism to protect Krypton in the event of an invasion. The virus was never used, and the files regarding it were later brought to Earth on Kal-El's pod.[6]

Zor-El also began conducting studies on the Harun-El, a mystical black rock found on Krypton with untold powers.[7]

Sending Kara to Earth and protecting Argo City

In 1979 when it was determined that Krypton was facing imminent destruction, Zor-El initially worked to build a transmatter portal in an effort to teleport every resident of the planet to safety, but failed to complete it in time.[3] He then used his research on the Harun-El to design a protective dome powered by the rock to preserve Argo City, ensuring that a piece of Krypton survived.[7]

Zor-El and Alura say goodbye to Kara.

Not knowing if the dome would work, Zor-El and his wife Alura decided to send their daughter Kara to Earth alongside her cousin and Zor-El's nephew, Kal-El. Before sending her off, Alura told Kara that the trip would be long, but assured her that she and Zor-El will be with their daughter in her dreams. Zor-El prepared his daughter's pod and watched as the latter boarded her ship, leaving right before the planet self-destructed.[1]

Ultimately, Zor-EL was able to power the Harun-El dome and Argo City was saved. Unfortunately, he lost his life in the process due to the tainted air following the collapse of Krypton.[7]


Zor El's hologram talking to Kara.

Zor-El's intelligence appears as a hologram in the Fortress of Solitude when Kara goes there to learn of Project Medusa. The A.I. explains that the virus was created by him as a joint effort between the Military and Science Guilds to kill other life forms in the event of an invasion. Shocked, Kara protests that her father was saving lives with his work, to which the A.I. corrects with saving Kryptonian lives. Kara angrily points out that Zor-El had given Project Cadmus the perfect weapon to use on Earth and deactivates the A.I. before he can respond.[6]

New multiverse

Reunited with his daughter

In the new multiverse, Zor-El stayed on Krypton to activate its shields when it was about to be destroyed. He knew he had no chance to get off the planet, so as a last ditch attempt to save his life, he ended up trapped in the Phantom Zone.

Zor-El stayed hidden from the Phantoms that roamed the dimension, living in a cave, until a new arrival came; the young lady was screaming from the presence of the Phantoms, so he took pity on her and brought her to his cave. When the young lady awakened, he noted that she was not a fantasy and truly wore the House of El symbol on her chest. He discovered that the new arrival was his daughter, now grown Kara Zor-El.

Kara was determined to return to Earth, but Zor-El told her that, for the sake of her sanity, she should not even try because that was how Phantoms found their prey on the hope of leaving that dimension. Kara chose to go out nonetheless; Zor-El retrieved her when he found her outside the cave, again screaming and in anguish. When Kara collected herself, she was determined to leave again, citing that she was not content to live there with only him; Zor-El decided to help. While they were out, they caught sight of phantoms, leaving through a portal, causing the two to decide that they needed to capture a phantom.[8]

Zor-El, Kara, and Nyxly in the Phantom Zone.

Zor-El and Kara waited until they saw a phantom enter a portal and grabbed it, hitching a ride until it reappeared in another place in the Phantom Zone. The two landed hard, causing Kara to break her leg. As the phantom escaped, Zor-El tried to help his daughter with her pain when a group of men arrived and took him captive. Zor-El sat in a cage, waiting to be the sacrifice to a beast. Later, as the men sharpened their knives, Kara, healed from her injury, and another woman freed Zor-El and the men disappeared. Kara introduced the woman as Nyxly, but she does not believe that leaving the dimension is possible. Zor-El listens as Kara tells Nyxly that the three of them will escape when they find the secret passage instilled by Alura Zor-El.[9]

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Zor-El and Kara see the Superfriends' arrival.

Zor-El and Kara escaped the Anchor as it collapsed, but they were forced to fight phantoms as they fled. Kara became discouraged, but Zor-El talked to her. Just as the two were getting ready to fight more phantoms, the Superfriends arrived and exploded a Yellow Sun Grenade, granting Kara her powers. Kara then flew to the spaceship with Zor-El and hugged her family.[10]

Return to Earth

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Original multiverse

Zor-El was revered and respected by the denizens of Argo City for his sacrifice, with a plaque dedicated to him and every other Kryptonian who died in the destruction of the planet.

Zor-El's death was one of the catalysts for his wife Alura changing her legal methods, as she was heartbroken over her husband's death and believed it could've been prevented if she was more proactive in saving Krypton.[7][3]

About 37 years after Zor-El's death, Project Cadmus stole the files on the Medusa virus from the Fortress of Solitude for their agenda against aliens.[11] When Kara learned the origin of the virus, she was horrified at her father's willingness to create and use such a dangerous weapon and even felt ashamed to be his daughter, wondering if death and destruction were all that remained of her parents' legacy. However, J'onn J'onzz assured Kara that she is her parents' legacy, and can learn from Zor-El and Alura's mistakes to be better.[6]

When Kara visited Argo City for the first time, she was both awed and saddened upon learning of her father's sacrifice, having since come to forgive Zor-El for his mistakes.[7]


Zor-El was a compassionate, courageous, and wise individual who worked hard to protect Krypton through his work as a scientist. He was a very loving and devoted husband to his wife, Alura, and father to his daughter, Kara. Zor-El would often share his work with Kara, fondly acknowledging her as a fellow scientist.

However, Zor-El was also revealed to be a ruthless pragmatist if necessary. To fight against potential alien invasions, he created the Medusa virus to eradicate all life other than Kryptonians on a large scale. While Zor-El may have had justifiable motives for this project, it should be noted that he never thought to create a cure in case Medusa fell into the wrong hands, displaying traits of arrogance and callousness.

Given that Zor-El's AI lacked emotions though, his true feelings regarding the Medusa virus remain unclear.

Despite these flaws, Zor-El genuinely loved and cherished his family, placing the well-being of his fellow Kryptonians above all else. In the wake of the planet's destruction, Zor-El worked tirelessly to find a way to save all of its citizens and ultimately gave his life to protect Argo City, proving that he truly did have his family and home's best interests at heart.

Zor-El is compassionate about the environment of worlds, as he wanted to save Earth before pollution destroyed it, just like Krypton. After seeing his obsession made him overlook safety measures, Zor-El decided to retire to Argo and be with Alura again, hoping his work can be of help.

Powers and abilities


"What was that? And why do I feel... stronger?"
  • Kryptonian physiology: Normally, like all Kryptonians, Zor-El's capabilities are no greater than a normal human of his physical conditioning. However, if he has been charged by the energy of a yellow sun, Zor-El would have become able to perform various inhuman feats.
    • Solar energy absorption: While Zor-El's powers are dependent on the energy spectrum from a yellow sun, his body is able to constantly and passively absorb such energy while exposed to it, essentially keeping him reserves fully charged near-constantly.
      • Flight: Zor-El is able to manipulate his own gravitational field to generate thrust and propel himself through the air, often at hyper-sonic speeds, much faster than he can travel by foot.
      • Super strength: By absorbing the energy from Earth's yellow sun, Zor-El was strong enough to lift the entire printer off the ground at CatCo.
      • Freeze breath: Zor-El is able to exhale powerful gusts of air from her mouth which are similar to force winds. he can also cause the temperature of his breath to drop, therefore able to freeze nearly anything.


  • Genius-level intellect/Master scientist/Master engineer: Zor-El is extremely intelligent, being one of the most distinguished scientists on Krypton. He was personally commissioned by the Ruling Council to create the synthetic Medusa virus. Zor-El is also an excellent engineer, as he built a special dome powered by the Harun-El to provide Argo City with breathable air and hide it from potential invaders. Zor-El is also partially successful in designing a transmatter portal from scratch.



Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 5

Season 6


Adventures of Supergirl


  • Zor-El is bad at cooking.[12]

Behind the scenes

  • Zor-El debuted in Action Comics #252 (May, 1959), as the biological father of Kara Zor-El, who also made her debut in the same issue. In the comics, Zor-El was one of the few to believe his brother, Jor-El, about Krypton's destruction, which prompted him to build a protective dome around Argo City.
    • The latest incarnation of the character is brainwashed into becoming the second version of the villain Cyborg Superman by Brainiac after Argo City's destruction. Upon regaining his memories, Zor-El attempted to recreate Krypton on Earth out of a misguided attempt to atone for his mistakes, forcing Kara to stop him. Zor-El redeemed himself after saving Kara's life from Indigo, only to be captured by the D.E.O. and executed by Mister Oz as a "mercy kill".
    • In the Prime Earth comics, Zor-El took part in the creation of the Worldkillers, which he later regretted due to their lethal nature.