When the trailer of ‘The Flash’ was released, one of the things that people saw was that Superman wasn’t going to be in this movie. Instead, the one that was handling the job of the Kryptonian hero was Kara Zor-El, who we know as Supergirl, the cousin of Superman. This was because Barry changed the course of history when he meddled with the timelines. But what happened to Superman in ‘The Flash?’
General Zod revealed that he and his people found the pod that was supposed to carry Kal-El to Earth many years ago. He tried harvesting the genetic material of the Kryptonians from the infant. However, likely because of the strain of the process, Kal-El’s infant body did not survive.
We already knew that Superman wouldn’t be in the movie because there was a huge hole in the Superman department of the DCEU, especially after it was announced that Henry Cavill would no longer be playing the role. As such, we could see a good reason why Superman wasn’t in that timeline. Let’s look at what happened to Kal-El in ‘The Flash.’
Supergirl replaced Superman
Loosely based on the ‘Flashpoint’ storyline in the comics, ‘The Flash’ was able to deliver its own Flashpoint in a storyline that follows Barry Allen’s attempt at a better life by returning to the past and changing the course of history so that his mother would be alive in his present life. However, things went wrong because he got trapped in the timeline where he was still just 18 years old. And he discovered that General Zod was about to destroy the planet in what seems to be a mirror of the events in the ‘Man of Steel’ movie.
But Barry learned the hard way that he changed the course of history altogether as there were a lot of alterations that caused several things to happen differently. This was confirmed when he discovered that Batman was the only superhero operating at that time and that there was no Superman. And they also learned that a Kryptonian was being held captive by the Russians in Siberia.
Of course, the Kryptonian they found out was none other than Kara Zor-El, who is called Supergirl in the comics. This was never a secret because Kara was the one that was shown in the trailer of ‘The Flash.’ As such, people already knew that Supergirl would be in this movie instead of Superman. That means that Kara essentially replaced her cousin as the Kryptonian that crashed on Earth in this movie because Barry changed the course of history.
This isn’t far from what happened in the ‘Flashpoint’ comic book storyline. Instead of operating as a hero, Kal-El was captured by the government and was kept in isolation his entire life. However, the Flash and Batman were able to free him in the ‘Flashpoint’ storyline. But he wasn’t the hero that they thought he would be.
In ‘The Flash,’ Kara didn’t want to be a hero but eventually realized that she had to be a hero when she was inspired by the fact that Barry saved her from the Russian facility despite not knowing who or what she was. As such, she confronted General Zod during the climax portion of the film as she was the only one strong enough to stand a chance against the Kryptonian villain that would have easily defeated the two versions of Barry Allen and Batman.
What happened to Kal-El?
When Kara introduced herself to Barry, she said she was Kal-El’s cousin and was sent to Earth with him. They were sent out in escape pods that allowed them to escape the destruction of Krypton. Kara, a teenager at that time, was supposed to be the guardian of Kal-El, who was still a baby.
In the comics, Kara’s pod was hit by debris, and that caused it to steer away from the right path to Earth. The delay in her arrival also delayed her aging process, as she was placed in suspended animation. That explains why Superman was already an adult by the time Supergirl arrived on the planet.
Meanwhile, in ‘The Flash,’ it was Kara that arrived on Earth before Kal-El did. But the thing is that she wasn’t even sure whether or not her cousin had arrived on the planet. It was during her confrontation with Zod that she eventually learned her cousin’s fate.
Zod’s goal was to terraform the planet to turn it into a habitable place for the Kryptonians. In turn, he was going to kill all the humans on Earth to ensure that his people would get to live on. And he also said that Kara’s uncle embedded the genetic codes of all of the Kryptonians in Kal-El as he held the key to the future survival of Krypton because Zod would have revived all of the Kryptonians using their genetic code in Kal-El’s body.
But that wasn’t the case because Zod revealed that they found Kal-El’s escape pod long ago. A surprised Kara asked him what happened to her cousin, and Zod revealed that Kal-El didn’t survive. Zod also said that the genetic code was actually in Kara the entire time, which was why she was important to them, and Kal-El was expendable. This caused an enraged Supergirl to attack Zod and make him suffer for what he did to her cousin.
Zod found an opening to stab Kara using a powerful Kryptonian blade. After that, he and his lackeys used a Kryptonian device that harvested the genetic codes from Kara’s body. Supergirl didn’t survive the encounter, especially after the codes were harvested from her body.
That means that it was likely that Zod also tried to harvest the genetic code from Kal-El using the same machine after they found him. The fact that the same machine killed Kara means that an infant was unlikely to survive the same process, even if this infant was supposed to be Superman.
In short, Kal-El died in the timeline that Barry altered in ‘The Flash.’ He died long before the events of the movie and probably before Kara even arrived on Earth. And he died as an infant instead of as a full-grown adult hero known as Superman to the entire world.
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