With the recent revelation that J'Onn J'Onzz the Martian Manhunter appears incognito as a supporting character on Supergirl, many fans had wondered whether elements of his backstory -- such as the story of his family's death, or the various races of Martians who used to exist -- might appear onscreen.
Turns out, the answer is a resounding yes -- and it's coming fairly soon.
"In Episode 11, we have a visitor from another planet who’s a White Martian," said actor David Harewood, who plays Hank Henshaw/J'Onn J'Onzz on the series. "There are two Martian species - it feels really weird talking about this (laughs) I’ve not been able to say anything about it - there is a Green Martian species and a White Martian species and the White Martians, in our story, are responsible for the death of the whole of the Green Martians. It was a fire and they burned them and we get to see a lot of that."
In the comics, of course, Martian Manhunter's personal "Kryptonite" is fire -- although it's less a physical weakness and more a mental block becuase of the way he lost his family. J'Onn is not typically depicted as a particularly dark or moody character, but he does carry that trauma with him, and it's often explored to good narrative effect.
"It’s very emotional. It was a very emotional episode for me, just thinking about the whole idea of genocide and, you know, people being burned alive," Harewood said. "I think it was around the same time as the Paris attacks. it was very emotional. The whole idea of it was weird for me to be playing, but I think it’s going to be a very emotional, powerful episode because you get to see a little bit - the fans are going to be, I think, really delighted to see this because I don’t think, technically, it’s been able to be done before, but I think we’re, thankfully, now living in an age where you get great people like Armen [V. Kevorkian] - our Visual Effects Director - who’s just fantastic and he’s capable of just bringing some of stuff to life and I think fans are really going to get to see a version of Martian Manhunter on the screen that they’ve just never, ever seen before. There’s going to be something in it for the fans and something in it for just the general viewers because it’s some pretty emotional stuff to cover."
Supergirl returns in January.