The planet Krypton, unstable from years of industrial mining, faces impending destruction. Jor-El, chief advisor to Krypton’s supreme council, recommends a full-scale evacuation of the planet’s inhabitants. Before any action can be taken, soldiers led by General Zod, an old friend of Jor-El’s, launch an uprising and arrest the councilors. Realizing that Krypton is doomed, Jor-El steals genetic codes sought by Zod and infuses them into the DNA of his infant son, Kal-El – the first naturally born Kryptonian child in centuries. Donning his old armor, Jor-El sacrifices his life to allow his son to escape on a preprogrammed spacecraft. Zod orders the rocket’s destruction, only to learn that forces loyal to the council have suppressed the rebellion. In a brief trial, Zod and several of the surviving rebels are convicted of treason and sentenced to the Phantom Zone moments before Krypton explodes.
Following Jor-El’s coordinates, the ship crash lands on Earth in Smallville, Kansas. A childless couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, find Kal-El and raise him as their own, naming him Clark. Clark eventually becomes an isolated young man as a result of developing superhuman powers. He then learns his true origins from Jonathan, who urges him to keep his powers hidden. Several years later, Jonathan dies in a tornado while refusing to let Clark rescue him. Burdened with guilt and looking for a new purpose in his life, Clark leaves to travel the world for an extended period of time under several disguises.
Several months later, Metropolis, Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane receives an assignment to investigate the discovery of a Kryptonian scout ship in the Canadian Arctic. Disguised as a worker, Clark enters the ship and activates its central computer using a key left by Jor-El, which allows him to communicate with an artificial intelligence modeled after his father. The AI explains that Clark was sent to Earth to guide its people, and presents him with a Kryptonian uniform bearing his family’s symbol. While following Clark, Lois inadvertently triggers the ship’s security system. Clark uses his powers to rescue Lois before wearing the uniform and testing his flying abilities. Unable to convince supervisor Perry White to publish an article on the incident, Lois tracks down Clark and agrees to keep his secret safe.