Supergirl could be playing out Kara’s worst nightmare following her return from the Phantom Zone with the revelation that her rescued father, Zor-El, is the next major villain she’ll have to face. As heartwarming as the father-daughter reunion in the Phantom Zone was, the show has repeatedly stated that Kara’s time in the Phantom Zone is going to change and challenge her as never before. There’s no better way to achieve this than for her father to turn out to be the Arrowverse’s next big bad.
It was emphasized time and again that Kara should not trust anything she saw or heard in the Phantom Zone because of the facility’s ability to trick and manipulate the minds of those trapped there. Trusting soul that she is, Kara instantly believed and accepted the man she met as her loving father. Yet, episode after episode of her ordeal presented enough evidence to make the case that the Zor-El who was rescued with her from the Phantom Zone is not going to be the hero his daughter is.
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Even should this man turn out to be the original Zor-El who raised her, Kara’s memories of him, like the ones for her other family members, are rose-colored. Zor-El’s established history on Supergirl has already set the stage for his daughter to be in line for perhaps her biggest disappointment. And the bigger question to ask is will the Phantom Zone-traumatized superhero be able to battle her now equally superpowered father? If the Arrowverse has given viewers one constant to rely on, it is that resurrected family members are more likely to bring more pain than joy to their superhero loved ones. The odds are just not in Supergirl’s favor for this happy family reunion to last.
Zor-El’s Established Supergirl History Contains Red Flags
While Zor-El could very well be the father Kara remembers, Supergirl has previously established that he is a man of dubious honor. The same man who warmly encouraged her interest in science created the genocidal virus that was stolen, modified, and used by Lillian Luthor in season 2’s “Medusa.” For now, Kara seems to have set aside her culture and family’s dark past, but the fact remains Zor-El reflected some of the worst parts of Krypton, a society whose superiority complexes didn’t translate into benevolence toward non-Kryptonians.
Time and again during the run of Supergirl, Kara has been forced to confront the more sinister legacies of her family. She became disillusioned and disappointed in her mother, and she was tricked and attacked by her aunt Astra and her uncle, Non. Finding out that her father also has a dark side that could potentially involve evil actions would, unfortunately, be in line with family tradition.
Zor-El’s Identity Is Subject To Crisis Shenanigans
Brainy discovered early in season 6 that the Phantom Zone was radically changed by the events of the Crisis. The prison is now an amalgamation of pocket dimensions left over from the different Phantom Zones that existed within the multiverse. Anyone Kara encountered in the new Phantom Zone could thus belong to any of the universes that existed prior to Crisis. It is within the realm of possibility that in one of those pocket dimensions there was a version of Kara’s father who was a criminal and serving a sentence in his world’s Phantom Zone.
At no time during the Supergirl Phantom Zone episodes was Zor-El’s identity confirmed as being the Zor-El that existed in Supergirl’s original Earth-38 universe. Throughout Kara’s time with him in the Phantom Zone, he behaved oddly and at times encouraged her to give up hope before beginning to express a fascination with her world outside the prison. Despite the fact he should have had the same information as Kara did about the Phantom Zone, if not more, Zor-El was clueless about key features of the Zone. The news of Kara’s mother’s survival barely garnered his interest. Additionally, Zor-El appeared either unwilling or unable to operate the Kryptonian machines they found in the mirror room. While Kara was eager to embrace another family member long thought dead, there’s a lack of evidence to rule out him being an imposter or a Zor-El from another Earth. Supergirl promotion indicated whatever happened in the Phantom Zone would impact Kara beyond anything she’d dealt with before. There was no great traumatizing event while she was trapped there that could be considered worthy of such a warning. However, after their rescue, learning that the Zor-El she confided in and fought to rescue was a deceiver would be a bit closer to that level of anguish. Even if he is the real Zor-El, that by no means removes the possibility that his presence will bring life-altering trauma into Supergirl’s path.
Every Version Of Zor-El On Page And Screen Has Been Doomed
Supergirl’s father, Zor-El does not have the best track record in the DC canon. Different comic storylines often cast him as a rival to his brother, Superman’s father, Jor-El, and as a person whose intentions were often malicious. At one point, he even became the infamous Cyborg Superman. One version of Zor-El’s story in the comics tied him to the Phantoms under a form of curse. In other storylines, he was under the control of others like the evil Brainiac, opening the door for Supergirl’s version of Zor-El to become a more tragic antagonist if they go a similar route and reveal someone else is influencing him.
His established Supergirl history as a scientist who crossed moral boundaries makes him an ideal target to be swayed by people of power. He could be drawn to the Luthors if he is the same man who created poisons to wipe out other species. He could have also fallen under Nyxly’s spell when he was alone with the imp, whose fully restored powers haven’t been revealed yet. She could be able to control or infect him when they arrive on Earth.
How Resurrected Family Members Have Cost Arrowverse Heroes
Zor-El’s return to Supergirl and his family ultimately turning tragic would be in line with the Arrowverse’s gloomy track record of resurrected family members not being party to happy endings. The Flash’s Barry Allen was so traumatized by his choice to not save his mother that he repeatedly broke time to take back that first decision, only to upend the world again when was forced to let her be murdered once more. Then his own daughter showed up from the future to betray him. On Arrow, bringing his sister, Thea, back from the dead placed Oliver in debt to Ra’s al Ghul, with neverending consequences. And on Legends of Tomorrow, the time reset that resulted in her brother Behrad being alive meant that Zari 1.0 had to essentially die.
This would also not be the first time on Supergirl that the Girl of Steel was betrayed by a family member. In season 1 she was reunited with her beloved aunt Astra, only for Astra to manipulate her. Astra ultimately had to be killed by Alex, who struggled with the intense burden of killing a member of her sister’s family. Supergirl having to fight another relative to protect her Earth home would bring her full circle to her first season.
It would be too simple for Supergirl to leave Kara as the girl who truly has everything, reunited happily with her father and mother on Argo, having reclaimed everything Krypton’s destruction took from her. The far likelier challenge is that Kara will face off against a superpowered foe almost impossible to beat physically and emotionally, a foe with the face of the father she loves, not returned to her after all but here to war against her as one of the Arrowverse’s most powerful villains.
Next: Supergirl: How Many Episodes Are Left (And When Is The Finale?)
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