What Does Red Kryptonite Do to Superman?

Superman is one of the most popular, most powerful superheroes ever. However, even the most powerful characters tend to have weaknesses, and one of the most well-known Superman weaknesses is Kryptonite. It’s naturally green, but there are other versions that have different effects on Supes. So, what does Red Kryptonite do to Superman?

Red Kryptonite is probably the wildest, most curious Kryptonite type, as no two rocks have the same effect. Superman was affected numerous times, and virtually every time, the results were different. They ranged from losing power, and rapidly aging, to losing all inhibition or transforming into a dragon.

There are simply no boundaries to what can happen. To add to the already-mysterious effects of Red Kryptonite, there are also various versions of the rock – most of them made artificially. Lex Luthor made one with radiation experiments on Green Kryptonite, Ra’s al Ghul made one after stealing Batman’s blueprints… Let’s dive in and learn more about it.

What is Red Kryptonite?

There are numerous types of Red Kryptonite, but they all have one thing in common – the effects are highly unpredictable, to the point of being wild and chaotic. The first time we saw Red Kryptonite in comics was in Adventure Comics #255 in September 1958. After that, numerous versions of the rock appeared in DC Comics.

Most commonly (namely, Pre-Crisis), Red Kryptonite was formerly Green Kryptonite that passed through a mysterious red mist/cloud somewhere along the way to Earth. The mist changed the Kryptonite’s properties, resulting in its effect on Kryptonians being completely random. Unlike other types of Kryptonite, Red Kryptonite affects Superman even under a Red Sun.

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The same rock of Red Kryptonite can have a completely different effect on two different Kryptonians, and no two chunks have the same effect. However, it was also established in Action Comics #321 that the same chunk can influence the same Kryptonian two times, with a different effect each time. The properties are scrambled and highly random. 

The sensation usually begins as a “tingling effect.” Sometimes, the effects are very mild – almost non-recognizable, while sometimes, they are highly extreme. Nevertheless, the influence of Red Kryptonite on Supes and other Kryptonians usually wears off after 24-48 hours.

If a non-Kryptonian took Red Kryptonite, for most species, it works as if it were a psychedelic drug. One falls into a trance-like state, having vivid visions of unfathomable events, transformations, transfigurations, etc. It can span from seeing weird colors to seeing your grandmother turn into a dinosaur – there are essentially never two same visions.

For Kryptonians, they experience the same – however, for Superman, it’s not just a vision; it actually manifests.

What does Red Kryptonite do to Superman?

Superman has been influenced by Red Kryptonite numerous times, and the effects were as wild, random, and different from one another as you can imagine. Sometimes, it only changed his personality into an evil version of himself, while another time, he transformed into a fire-breathing dragon.

Superman was once transformed into a giant but lost his powers, while another time, he turned into a dwarf, but his powers were intact. Other times, Supes was transformed into a humanoid creature with the head of an ant.

In Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #53, Clarks gained telepathic abilities and started growing a bear. Another time, he excessively grew hair from his entire body and aged rapidly. In Action Comics #283, he gained the ability to breathe fire.

Other times, the effects included temporary amnesia, blindness, power loss, invulnerability loss only on the left side of his body, growth of extra limbs, and generating an evil doppelganger (similar to what happened in the movie Superman III… The list goes on.

The thing is, so far, I was talking only about true Red Kryptonite, the one that went through the red space cloud. However, there are many other versions that are important to note.

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Alternative versions of Red Kryptonite and their effect on Superman

There have been dozens of alternative versions of Red Kryptonite, mostly created artificially – sometimes by villains, sometimes by other heroes. I’ll only go through some of the most notable alternative Red Kryptonite versions and how they affected Superman.

One of the most notable “fake” Red Kryptonites came from Batman in the JLA Tower of Babel story arc. Bruce used Green Kryptonite to conduct experiments on it, creating the prototype for Red Kryptonite – a means-to-an-end if Supes ever went rogue. 

However, Ra’s al Ghul stole the blueprints from Batman and created the Red Kryptonite that made Superman’s skin transparent. That caused intense pain and made Superman’s body absorb exponentially more solar radiation, resulting in a complete overload of his senses to a point where his body couldn’t function.

There was also the Krimson Kryptonite, a non-radioactive version of Kryptonite created by Mister Mxyzptlk. He gifted it to Lex Luthor, and the rock had the ability to strip Superman of his powers. The only way it could be undone is by Lex revealing who was really behind the whole ordeal. 

It wasn’t the only time Lex Luthor used Red Kryptonite against Superman. Similar to what Bruce Wayne did, Lex experimented with radiation on Green Kryptonite, creating an artificial version of Red Kryptonite that has effects the closest to what real Red Kryptonite has.

It caused Kryptonian DNA to scramble its natural replication order, resulting in the cells rapidly, abruptly and wildly changing, causing unfathomable transformations incredibly fast.

In the Smallville series, we’ve seen Red Kryptonite change Clark Kent’s personality into a rebellious, selfish version of himself, riding a motorcycle, wearing leather jackets, and stuff like that.

There are countless more instances where Red Kryptonite had wild effects, which is why I’d actually say it might be the most dangerous type of Kryptonite, simply due to its sheer unpredictability.

  • Luka is an amateur filmmaker, screenwriter, cinematography, and trivia enthusiast. High fantasy and fiction are his primary interest, especially Tolkien's Middle-earth universe, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Marvel Universe.