If you’re listing Michigan’s contributions to the world, you could go the obvious way – Edison or Fords (Henry and/or Gerald) or Kellogg’s and such.
Or you could ponder something new: In a distant time and a distant galaxy, Earth’s future may be rescued by a man wearing a Detroit Tigers cap.
OK, that man (Adam Strange) is fictional. But the guys – Geoff Johns and David Goyer – who plunked him into the new “Krypton” series are quite real and the cap is no accident.
“We’re both from Michigan,” Goyer said. “We like the Tigers.”
Johns – a Michigan State grad who happened to be wearing a Tiger cap as he was talking – agreed. “We wanted Adam Strange to kind of be from a grounded place like Michigan,” he said. “It give him a little more, I guess, normalcy and (gives him) the Midwestern ethic that Superman has.”
Superman grew up in Kansas. But he wouldn’t have reached there if it hadn’t been for the time-traveler who whisked to Krypton to counsel the man who would become Superman’s grandfather.
“Adam Strange gets to become a proxy for the audience in a lot of ways,” said producer Cameron Welsh. “He’s probably the most relatable character.”
And the easiest to overlook. “On Earth, he just kind of blends in,” Johns said. “He’s an average man. But when he travels via zeta beam to another planet, … he becomes this hero.”
Which is kind of like these two guys – easy to overlook back home, heroes to comic fans.
Johns, 45, grew up in Grosse Poine and Clarkston; Goyer, 52, grew up in Ann Arbor. Johns is Lebanese on his dad’s side; Goyer is Jewish on his mom’s side. Johns went to Michigan State University, Goyer to the University of Southern California.
They might seem like opposites, but both found comic books. Goyer found them in Ann Arbor’s comic stores; Johns found them in his grandparents’ attic. He chose MSU partly because East Lansing had two comics stores; after graduating in 1995, he moved to California and, in 2000, started working with Goyer on “JSA” (Justice Society of America) comics.
They wrote together for about five years, before Goyer switched mostly to screenplays. He’s written movies for Batman (“Batman Begins”), Superman (“Man of Steel”) and both (“Batman v Superman”). He wrote all three Blade films, plus “Jumper” and the upcoming “Sandman,” “Green Lantern Corps” and more. For TV, he’s had been the prime writer-producer for “Da Vinci’s Demons,” “Constantine,” “Flashforward” and a “Blade” series.
Johns, however, has stuck with the comics. He’s “written some of my favorite comic books,” said Cameron Cuffe, the “Krypton” star.
For the past eight years, he’s also been the chief creative officer of DC Comics. That involves lots of traditional comic books – 100 new ones each month – plus movies and TV.
Several – especially “Batman v Superman” – have been sharply criticized, but DC seems to be on the upswing now. “I think ‘Wonder Woman’ was one of the best movies in the last several years,” Johns said. “And we’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up with Aquaman and Shazam.”
On TV, DC consistently provides half the CW line-up (led by “Supergirl,” “Arrow” and “The Flash”) and has moved into Fox (“Gotham,” “Lucifer”) and now Syfy.
That’s for “Krypton,” which has seemed to take forever – announced in 2014, pilot filmed in 2016, finally reaching TV now. “We’ve got a significant visual effects budget for the show, very significant,” Goyer said. “The post-production period is almost double that of your average show.”
In a Belfast studio, alternate worlds have been created. “It’s like being on set of ‘A New Hope’ or ‘Empire (Strikes Back),’” Cuffe said. “It’s of that caliber.”
In those Kryptonic worlds, filled with special effects, a young man is told he must protect the future of Earth’s greatest hero. And he gets the news from a guy in a Tiger cap.
• “Krypton,” 10 p.m. Wednesdays, Syfy, debuting March 21
• Opener reruns that night at 2:30 a.m., Thursday night at midnight, Sunday at 10:55 p.m.
• Also: Opener reruns at 10 a.m. Saturday on Bravo, 11:05 p.m. Monday on USA