How did a Kryptonian that was bred to be an intellect,

Jor-El was born on Krypton as a genetically engineered baby to become more intelligent and innovative, making him a more efficient scientist when he grew to adulthood. His engineering was evident as he went on to become the most prominent scientific mind on Krypton.

Beat an army guy, General Zod

Zod was born on the distant planet Krypton genetically engineered as a commanding leader and fierce warrior. He was one in a long line of warriors all who served in Krypton's military rising all the way to the rank of 'General' from which he was formally known as "General Zod" from now on. Zod was placed in charged of the Warrior Guild on Krypton and was fiercely devoted to his duty and his 'people'.

that was born and bred to be a military guy in hand to hand combat? Only after Jor-EL was distracted by his son taking off was Zod able to fatally would him.

  • 1
    Related: How did Jor-El stand a chance against Zod?
    – TARS
    May 26, 2016 at 12:40
  • 2
    This seems like one of many questions whose "right" answer is simply "Bad Writing". Any other answer is just an attempt to shoe-horn explanations into a script that clearly never considered the problem in the first place. :-(
    – Paul L
    May 26, 2016 at 13:28
  • 1
    @PaulL I was just about to say something like that. The fight between Jor-El and Zob made good on screen action to get the movie off to a fast start not because it made sense! Movies and Tv shows more often than not will write logically lazy plots to better the on screen movement and action. Which leaves questions like this one without an answer.
    – Rincewind
    May 26, 2016 at 13:45
  • Superman can absorb solar energies of stars such as our star and when he absorbes the solar energies he constantely increased his abilities to a higher degree. General Zod has just arrived on earth and could not absorb 30 years of solar energy in such a short time period. May 26, 2016 at 14:54
  • 1
    @SebastianSchulz - The question is asking about Jor-El (Superman's dad), not Kal-El (Superman).
    – Valorum
    May 26, 2016 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


Zod's attention was diverted between Jor-El and the pod, at which point Jor-El managed to whack him in the head with the butt of his rifle. From that point onward, Zod seems to be very much on the defensive.

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We could certainly talk about Jor-El's superb genetic inheritance or the fact that he trained as a pilot but the reality is that he just got in a lucky hit and dazed his opponent at the start of the fight.

In the film's official novelisation (based on a slightly earlier version of the script), Zod isn't punched, but hit a glancing blow by a blast of Jor-El's rifle during this sequence. The end-result is still very much the same;

Zod gambled that Jor-El, for all his mad schemes, wasn’t prepared to murder a friend. So he dashed forward, keeping his head low, only to find himself torn between commandeering the launch controls and attacking the starcraft directly. Or perhaps he needed to remove Jor-El from the equation?

His momentary indecision was his downfall. A well-aimed shot from Jor-El’s rifle reduced Zod’s sidearm to slag. Grunting in pain, he hurled the super-heated weapon away from him.

  • Thanks , I did not know that. I will have to read that.
    – KyloRen
    May 27, 2016 at 3:16

Given the superior and customizable nature of the Kryptonian genetic technology, there is no reason to assume all Kryptonians are not created from a baseline genome thus rendering them, in the physical world at least, relatively equal.

  • Strong, fast, all capable of excellent response time given their patterning on a biological framework which resembles Human bilateral symmetry and structure with significant genetic enhancements.

  • Given they all seem to have the same sets of abilities when under a yellow sun, it is a safe assumption, what makes them different is a psychological conditioning, not a physical one.

If there is a difference between the soldier caste and the intellectual/scientific one, it is possible to be a variety of things which may make them different. It could be further genetic modifications after the baseline set.

  • The idea is there may be specifically altered physical aspects of their perfect genomes which may give Jor-El superior thinking capacities of a limited nature; perhaps he has greater corpus callosum density or more numerous dendrites on his brain cells making it possible for him to learn things faster or more expansively than the average Kryptonian.

  • Whereas Zod may have been engineered with different physiological or psychological enhancements or tolerances which make him a better warrior such as greater awareness of the battlefield, a natural eye for strategic interactions, a resistance to shock and injury, a boundless enthusiasm for bloodshed and war, all benefits for a natural soldier.

  • It could also be more advanced training, psychological or somatic conditioning which lends expertise of a limited nature, i.e. tactics, strategy, warfare fundamentals, military technologies, planetary conquest vs scientific reasoning, Kryptonian scientific principles, alien technology or exo-biology.

Without a clear reasoning as to HOW such information is imprinted on Kryptonians, it could be as complex as Jor-El thinking faster than Zod in that moment or Zod thinking that Jor-El would have no tactical capacity since Zod was a soldier and thus simply underestimating his opponent.

  • This much is certain: it is difficult to know what a person will do when confronted with the knowledge and reality of their impending death. Mothers lift cars off their children, men defend their families from bears with nothing more than a stick. Desperate people protecting what they hold dear can be amazing.

  • Jor-El knew, without a doubt, Krypton was doomed. Zod had no such knowledge. For him, his behavior was business as usual and there would be a tomorrow for him to rule Krypton under.

  • This may have allowed Jor-El to exceed the expectations of his psycho-social programming and dare to confront an enemy who didn't expect him to even resist. The cornered and desperate prey is often the most dangerous. Jor-El had nothing left to lose.

  • 3
    Or he could have just sucker-punched Zod while his attention was diverted, like the novel says :-)
    – Valorum
    May 26, 2016 at 15:41
  • Lending credence to the idea of Zod's contempt for a scientist. He felt he could ignore him... May 26, 2016 at 15:43
  • The issue I have with the gene theory is that the military types were bred to be superior physically and is evident with the 9ft tall guy that is in his squad. So I can't see how a science guy would be a match for General Zod. But, great answer BTW.
    – KyloRen
    May 27, 2016 at 3:15

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