Simple question, but it really has a lot of impact.
As comic book creators and readers, as well as to most of the United States, we only think of Kryptonite as a substance that can hurt and possibly even kill Superman. We can then go back to Krypton as the birthplace of Superman, of course, but few people realize that krypton is also an inert gas that is found on the periodic table of elements.
But we’re not here for a science lesson.
Saying that this or that is your kryptonite is to say you’re weak in the face of whatever the thing is. It’s also a comparison to Superman.
That’s something to think about, isn’t it? At its base, saying that something is your kryptonite is to say you are as powerful as Superman in all other instances. That’s saying something. Comparing yourself to Superman is no mean feat.
To simplify, kryptonite makes Superman physically weak. (Comic readers know better, and I don’t want to make this more complicated than necessary. No mentions of differently colored kryptonite affects Superman differently.) However, that is a physical reaction. For us, our “kryptonite” saps our willpower. This could also be a moral weakness.
Superman is the most moral character I can think of. His only real, constant deceit is Clark Kent.
Can we be as moral as Superman? Is this fictional character something we can aspire to emulate? (There are allegorical Jesus similarities to Superman that cannot be overlooked, and an entire religion was built around him. If a religion can be built around being a Jedi, one can be built around Superman.)
Kryptonite as a metaphor for weakness of will or moral fiber is a very strong thing to put on a fictional substance. Then again, maybe not. Maybe it’s just the thing we need. Maybe it’s exactly what’s needed.
What does kryptonite mean to you?