In Man of Steel, Zod is sent to the phantom zone for high treason. But for how long exactly?

LOR-EM : General Zod, for the crimes of murder and high treason, the Council has sentenced you and your fellow insurgents to 300 cycles of somatic reconditioning. Do you have any last words?

How long is 300 cycles of somati reconditioning? This is assuming of course that the planet doesn't blow up and that Zod actually stays in the phantom zone.

Is LOR-EM just using a manner of speech when he says "last words"? Or is Zod supposed to stay in the zone forever?

ZOD : You won't kill us yourselves! You wouldn't sully your hands! But you'll damn us to a black hole for eternity!

  • 1
    possible duplicate of What is somatic reconditioning and what does it do to a Kryptonian?
    – user931
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 19:47
  • Considering they are frozen in the zone, I'm not sure if they age within it or if they are fully suspended from even aging for 300 years. I assume he meant damned, as the planet would be destroyed by the 300 years and Kal-El dead, so he'd never be able to resurrect his people and the Kyrptonian's would die with the end of Zod's men.
    – user63737
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 22:41

4 Answers 4


Given we are writing for a science-impaired audience, it is safe to assume 300 cycles would be 300 revolutions of Krypton around its central star, Rao. What that period would relate to is unknown since we were never given a way to approximate how long a Kryptonian year/cycle was in relationship to Earth.

Given that Kal-El grew up at a rate that approximated a Human male, it might be safe to assume the Kryptonian cycle and the Earth year are pretty close in elapsed time. If there was an extreme difference, Kal-El would have either grew faster on Earth if the cycle was shorter, or slower if the cycle was longer.


While I agree that we are not given any solid way to approximate the length of time for each Kryptonian year, I disagree with Thaddeus on the idea that Kal's approximate human rate of growth means a Krypton cycle approximates an Earth year. Even if he matures at say 18 Earth years doesn't mean that on Krypton he wouldn't necessarily develop in 2 or 30 cycles.

I do think that we can assume Krypton is a larger planet (when they began terraforming the Earth they were "adding mass" and increasing gravity), and it seems that larger planets tend to develop further from stars, increasing the orbital period. There are still a lot of factors though such as star size/gravity and speed, however, I would hypothesize that a Kryptonian cycle is longer than an Earth year.


Unfortunately we don't know and the wording was likely selected specifically to make it ambiguous. We can surmise that it is a lengthy period because the Prequel comic sentences Dev-Em to death / execution for a single murder. Here, Zod has killed at least one Council member and Jor-El, not to mention the countless individuals caught up in his attempt coup. Even if the death penalty was abolished, as a matter of justice, the punishment would tend to scale to its severity (which is why, in our culture, we routinely ascribe punishments which cannot possibly be served by the convicted)... of course, that assumes Kryptonian culture has that kind of sense of justice and does not simply do the most utilitarian thing (implied by the usage of the Black Zero and its complicated customs).

I would tend to believe Kryptonians age slower after reaching maturity. Zod indicates that they had been freed and wandering for 33 years. Neither he nor Faora aged appreciably in a manner that a human woman at maturity would if you added 33 years. This can be explained either by slow aging or by shifts in hibernation, but I'm inclined towards the former because of Krypton's mastery of eugenics and the great age and stagnancy of their society which makes a certain amount of sense for long-lived beings for which time slips by quickly without realizing it. It is a common trope in fiction that the aged tend to be more passive in their nigh immortality.

As for the gravity of Krypton, doubtless it is greater as it is explicitly stated in the film, but not magnitudes greater. We see objects fall and can, more or less, measure the gravity of their planet which- surprise surprise, is basically Earth's. It's easier to reconcile Jor-El's one line than it is to try to make high gravity work across Krypton given what we see throughout the film.


The actually time is unknown. As others have stated, we don't know how long a Kryptonian year is, but if we are to assume a "cycle" is a year, then Zod would definitely be serving 300 years (Kryptonian years) in the phantom zone. Assuming the aging process is similar to that of Earth (as it appears Kal-El ages at the same rate a normal human does), then his sentence was longer than the expected life of a Kryptonian, hence, damned for eternity.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.