DOES THE SHOW LIVE UP TO THE COMIC’S LEGACY?
A DYSFUNCOTIONAL SUPERHERO FAMILY TRIES TO SAVE THE WORLD, BUT CAN THEY SAVE THEMSELVES?
Josh Duhamel, Ben Daniels, Leslie Bibb, Elena Kampouris, Andrew Horton, Mike Wade and Matt Lanter
Steven S. DeKnight, based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely
If you’ve been sitting around recently, hoping for another series based on a comic book. Well. This is one, for sure. Is it good? The simple answer is, NO. No, it’s not. To be clear, it had potential. Based on a graphic novel by writer Mark Millar and artist Frank Quitely, this adaptation by Steven DeKnight, is derivative, not just of its own source material but the entire genre of comic book-inspired films. With all the progress Marvel Studios has made with their more recent endeavors, Jupiter’s Legacy feels like a step backward. It might seem unfair to compare this show to The Boys, or Invincible but it comes with the territory.
The opening scene of Netflix’s new superhero drama Jupiter’s Legacy, we meet three kids playing superhero in their backyard. It’s a familiar moment, as an audience we’ve seen this time and time again. They do add a little twist when we see that one of children has actual superpowers. Then suddenly the Utopian (Josh Duhamel) flies down to scold the children. This is where we discover that he’s their father. “We have these powers for a reason,” The Utopian explains. “And with great power comes…..” The reason I couldn’t really enjoy this show.
His daughter, Chloe tries to finish the sentence “……Great responsibility.”
This is the scene that introduces us to this new superhero world, and it already mucks up whatever they’re about to show us. Jupiter’s Legacy does not have its own original themes or ideas. They borrow from the most famous comic-book characters and tropes that we all know and love; sometimes, they rely on this. The Utopian is obviously their Superman, and his wife Lady Liberty, played by Leslie Bibb, is its Wonder Woman. This is on par with his work considering that other comic books created by Mark Millar have been heavily inspired by the archetypes of more popular characters. (For the record, Miller isn’t the only perpetrator of this, lots of creators do this.)
The show actually bounces between two separate timelines. The present, Duhamel’s Sheldon and Leslie Bibb’s Grace are a married superhero power couple. The Utopian and Lady Liberty follow a “code” that dictates that they never kill. In the past, we follow Sheldon and Grace getting their powers along with his brother, Walter (Ben Daniels). The heroes of present day include, Brandon (Andrew Horton), struggling to live up to his dad’s legacy, and a rebellious daughter, Chloe (Elena Kampouris), who is more of a celebrity than a superhero. Neither of these characters bring much to the story even though they are key parts of the narrative.
The story starts off with a disconnect from the two timelines, and this where a majority of my disdain for the show comes in. The characters from the 1930s era part of the story and present day are portrayed by the same actors and mostly their age progression looks ridiculous. Duhamel, as The Utopian has a fake beard and bad wig that totally look fake. Their present day costumes look like something you’d find at a Spirit Halloween. They look like the kind of heroes that John Walker would hang out with. The flashbacks actually derail the plot at some points when things are picking up momentum,
Also there’s a mystery involving a cloned supervillain which seems pretty close to a narrative from Invincible. There’s a central annoyance to this story it is “the Code,” the almost sacred list of rules the Utopian has decided on, and tries to enforce among the superhero community, the main commandment being a no killing rule. Comic books have always wrestled with the idea of heroes not killing, which makes sense because it sets them apart from the bad guys. The way they go about their own arguments about the Code, however, is so bland and empty that it takes away from how important they want us to to feel it is. The low-energy of a majority of scenes comes across very lackluster.
Coming to terms with the fact that superhero dramas are here for a while is all we can do, but if these streaming services want us to stay engaged they have to step up their game. They won’t all be Marvel quality and that’s fine. The Boys proved that there are other players in this game. Jupiter’s Legacy spends a bulk of their time trying to tell its audience to care about their “Code”, but they fail on giving us a reason why we should.
Don’t take my word for it. Check out Jupiter’s Legacy on NETFLIX right now, and let us know what you thought. Stay nerdy.