- "The people of Earth are different from us, it's true, but ultimately I believe that is a good thing. They won't necessarily make the same mistakes we did, but if you guide them, Kal, if you give them hope. That's what this symbol means. The symbol of the House of El means "Hope". Embodied within that hope is the fundamental belief in the potential of every person to be a force for good. That's what you can bring them."
Jor-El was a respected scientist from Krypton, patriarch of the House of El, the foremost member of the Kryptonian Thinker Guild and husband of Lara-Lor Van. He is the father of Kal-El, who he sent to Earth so he could save him from the destruction of Krypton. He frequently came at odds with General Zod over the fate of Krypton and its people, whose bitter contention eventually led Zod to kill him.
Following his demise, an artificial intelligence of Jor-El appeared to Kal-El through the Command Key that Kal-El activated while aboard an ancient Kryptonian scout ship. He groomed Kal-El into his intended purpose on Earth, who eventually became Superman. After assisting Lois Lane into escaping the Black Zero, Zod threatened to kill Kal-El and rebuild Krypton before deleting Jor-El's AI from existence.
Jor-El was born on the planet of Krypton, into the House of El, and was genetically engineered into the Kryptonian Thinker Guild to harness his intelligence and innovation. In time he grew to become the planet's foremost scientist and married Lara Lor-Van. He also shared mutual respect with Zod, a friend of his youth, despite their heated disagreements. However, both of them agreed that Krypton was a dying planet and action needed to be taken, however Jor-El advocated for deserting the planet and forsaking Kryptonian tradition whereas Zod sought to overthrow the Kryptonian Law Council in a coup d'etat. As a prolific scientist, Jor-El would come to invent, build and design numerous things, including the Black Zero starship and the Phantom Zone Projector.
Birth of Kal-El and DeathTogether, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van both decided to give birth to a child by natural means, becoming the first family to do so in centuries and disobeying Kryptonian law. After strenuous labor guided only by her husband, Lara gave birth to a son that they named Kal-El. Once it was discovered that Krypton would be destroyed, Jor-El and Lara planned to send him to the far planet Earth, so that he wouldn't die as well. He pleaded with Krypton's leaders to give him the Growth Codex. Before they could decide whether to accept or reject Jor-El's proposal, General Zod and his radical Sword of Rao loyalists entered, disbanding the council and arresting Jor-El.
Jor-El escaped and flew on his loyal war kite mount H'Raka to the Codex's location, and took it back with him to his homestead. There, he combined it with his son's DNA. General Zod entered and demanded that the Codex be returned to him. Upon the revelation that Jor-El and Lara had a naturally-born child and that the Codex was with him, Zod attacked Jor-El in rage, and a fight between both former friends ensued. Jor-El, however, managed to gain the upper hand, and helped Lara launch the infant's starship just in time. Just as he was watching it launch, however, a vengeful Zod stabbed Jor-El in the chest with his wrist-blade, mortally wounding him.
Post-mortem artificial consciousness
After a now adult Kal-El boarded an ancient Kryptonian scout ship that had landed on Earth, he unknowingly inserted the AI in to the ship's mainframe system. The hologram, which took the form of Jor-El, told Clark of Krypton's history, General Zod's coup, and the reason Clark was sent to Earth. He then gave Clark a suit instructed him to set great examples for Humans to follow. He guided Clark to test his limits, and to truly master his powers.
Later, while being held hostage on board General Zod's flagship, Lois Lane spoke with Jor-El's consciousness using the command key that Superman had given her. He helped her to escape and taught her how to stop Zod's plan. He was then approached by Superman, freeing him by altering the ship's internal atmosphere to match that of Earth's. Jor-El sent Kal to save Lois' life and to stop Zod from obtaining the codex on Earth.
Afterwards, General Zod took control of the Kryptonian scout ship and met Jor-El's hologram, referring to him as a "ghost". Jor-El yet again urged Zod to stop his attempt at recreating Krypton on Earth, but Zod was intent on carrying out his plans. He overrided the program containing Jor-El's consciousness once and for all.
- "Lara, and I were a product of the failures of our world as much as Zod was. Tied to its fate."
Genetically engineered to be born into the Kryptonian Thinker Guild as a scientist, Jor-El was extremely intelligent, one of the greatest and most prolific minds of Krypton. Unlike most of his fellow Kryptonians though, Jor-El was also a highly innovative individual who was capable of breaking the thinking boundaries programmed into his engineered DNA. As a result, the scientist could see that Krypton's society was stale, flawed and outdated, so he and his wife subsequently chose the illegal step of having a natural born child, strongly believing in their cause. Knowing that his planet was to be imminently destroyed, Jor-El took the strong and incredibly hard step of sending his son to Earth so that he can survive and also to be free of Kryptonian society's chains and be truly free, choosing to stay behind himself, so that any flaws do not travel with his son, since he still considered himself to be as much a product of the outdated society as his former friend General Zod.
Jor-El also upheld what his family, the House of El had always represented - hope, within which was embodied the potential that every individual has to be a force for good and righteousness. Hence, when encountering his former friend General Zod 33 years after his death (via his AI interface), Jor-El still attempted to reason with him, albeit to no avail. Jor-El was also extremely courageous, not being afraid to fight quite literally for the protection of his son, engaging Zod in battle, in order to give his son the chance to escape, giving up his own life in the process.
Powers and abilities
- Kryptonian physiology: As a Kryptonian, Jor-El's bone structure is almost identical to that of a human. On a planet near a red class M main-sequence star, like his native Krypton with its sun Rao, Jor-El had physical attributes nearly identical to those of humans. However, if he were to travel to a planet near a yellow G-type main-sequence star, like Earth, he would have gained many incredible superpowers, identical to those of his son Superman, which would have made Jor-El also appear godlike.
- Genius-level intellect: Jor-El, as the most illustrious member of the Kryptonian Thinker Guild, was extremely intelligent and wise, Krypton's top mind. Jor-El intellect extends itself to his superb scientific and tactical skills, making him a formidable opponent to his former friend General Zod, who despite Clark deeming Zod as his equal in intelligence he proved to outsmart, with Jor-El's intelligence proving critical in Zod's defeat by his son as well as an effective mentor for his son Kal-El.
- Free will: Jor-El was also highly innovative character, with him and his wife Lara being the only known genetically-engineered Kryptonians who managed to break the thinking boundaries programmed into their engineered DNA. However, as Jor-El himself admits, even he is genetically incapable of having as much free will as his naturally born son Superman.
- Expert scientist: Jor-El was an extremely skilled and well-respected scientist in all of it's fields, being the foremost scientist on Krypton at the time of the planet's destruction. He has showcased this expertise many times, notably having designed the huge Black Zero starship, as well as the Phantom Zone Projector, the Phantom Drives, and a Command Key with his own AI; being able to accurately predict that mining Krypton's core would result in its imminent collapse (and, by extension, the destruction of the entire planet); being able to create artificial grass that he bedded onto a mountain peak near the House of El Citadel (despite most of Krypton being barren from thousands of years of strip mining); being able to accurately predict how Earth's yellow G-type main-sequence star would enhance his son Kal-El, and finally, being able to predict that the collision of 2 Phantom Drives would open up a temporary singularity into the Phantom Zone.
- Master tactician:Jor-El is an extremely skilled tactician, usually utilizing his scientific expertise to come up with effective strategies. Hence, Jor-El came up with a successful plan to save his son Kal-El from Krypton's doomed fate (sending him off in a Phantom Drive-equipped starship of his own design) despite getting killed himself before the plan's completion, he later gave Lois Lane some useful advice on how to escape from the Black Zero starship, and finally, it was Jor-El's plan on colliding 2 Phantom Drives that proved crucial in allowing Superman, Lois Lane, and their allies to ultimately defeat General Zod and the Sword of Rao.
- Master marksman: Jor-El also possessed amazing marksmanship skills with firearms, such as the Kryptonian Rifle, as seen when Zod's men arrested Jor-El, and Kelex intervened and later to protect his son from Zod, easily shooting down many of Sword of Rao's men.
- Master combatant: Despite being a member of the Kryptonian Thinker Guild and rarely fighting in the front lines, Jor-El proved to be an extremely fierce and verstaile fighter in battle, exceptionally accomplished in a vast array of Kryptonian martial arts, having apparently either self taught himself how to fight or received intensive combat training from somewhere. He displayed the full extent and potency of his skill in hand-to-hand combat during the Kryptonian Civil War, proving quite capable of easily fighting and subduing some of the most elite members of the Kryptonian Warrior Guild, as not only was he able to swiftly defeat Tor-An and his Sword of Rao men when they arrested him, but later he even was able to effectively fight on par with the extremely skilled and dangerous General Zod while protecting his son, who was the leader of the Kryptonian Warrior Guild and deemed to be second only to Faora in skill. Altough he was briefly pinned down, Jor-El was able to quickly free himself and gain the upper hand, eventually subduing his former friend. He also was skilled at using improvised weapons, as Jor-El used a Kryptonian Riffle against Zod as a blunt weapon and managed to hit him twice, even scarring his head, before he was disarmed of the weapon.
- Master flyer: Jor-El was a highly skilled flyer, having no problems staying on H'Raka's back while she maneuvered around Zod's Attacks ships, even with her diving over a hundred feet through the air at very high speeds in the process.
- Battle armor: Jor-El owned a suit of highly durable combat armor (with the House of El glyph inscribed in its chest), which he wore while fighting off Zod. It still did not, however, save him from being pierced by Zod's exceptionally sharp wrist-blade.
- Kelex: Jor-El's male service robot, who helped deliver his son Kal-El.
- Kelor: Jor-El's female service robot, who helped him break free from the Sword of Rao and steal the Growth Codex.
- House of El Command Key (Formerly): Jor-El's piece of highly advanced Kryptonian technology, made of Liquid Geo, and placed within the infant starship with Kal-El, so that his son would one day be able to communicate with Jor-El's artificial intelligence after finding the Fortress of Solitude.
- Infant Starship (Formerly): Jor-El constructed this starship and equipped it with a Phantom Drive, in order to send his infant son Kal-El away from Krypton's imminent apocalypse and onto Earth.
Behind the scenes
- Sean Penn and Clive Owen were considered for the role of Jor-El.