Netflix’s Jupiter’s Legacy is the first on-screen instalment from ‘Millarworld’ – a creator owned comic book universe from Mark Millar, arguably one of the best comic book writers and creators of his generation. Some may be familiar with his body of work that includes Kick-ass, Kingsman and Superman: Red Son. His Millarworld titles have been ‘hit and miss’ – ranging from brilliant originals like Huck, to some utterly forgettable fare like the Chrononauts. Therefore, given that Netflix is losing the Superhero Arms Race, with no new Marvel shows (eg: Daredevil, Punisher) and only a few above-average originals like The Umbrella Academy – acquisition of Millarworld made sense.
Having binged through the show’s first season, I get the feeling that the acquisition may turn out to be a ‘bottom of the barrel’ scenario for the streaming giant, especially when Disney+ is bringing its MCU heavyweights to streaming and Amazon Prime Video has cornered the anti-hero market with The Boys and Invincible.
Jupiter’s Legacy’s premise is simple: The Superman-esque Utopian (Josh Duhamel as Sheldon Sampson) is the leader of the Union, a group of superheroes who have been around since the 1930s. Now that their next generation is taking over, the veterans must deal with succession challenges. These include adherence to Utopian’s idealistic Code, in an increasingly morally grey world, and the new generation desire to forge its own path. Utopian’s kids Chloe and Brandon are examples of this conundrum. While Brandon is forever trapped in his father’s shadow, Chloe outright rejects her superhero identity in exchange for fame and hedonism. Utopian and his wife Grace (Lady Liberty) are attempting to navigate this family drama, while protecting a world they do not recognize – supported by Sheldon’s brother Walt ‘Brainwave’ Sampson.
Meanwhile Hutch, the son of estranged Union member George ‘Silverfox’ Hutchence, is on a series of missions that makes him cross paths with Chloe. The show also has a parallel storyline that takes us back in time as Sheldon unites the original Union members in the 1930s Great Depression era for a mission that would give them their powers. It is a little bit of Watchmen, a little bit of Kingdom Come (comic) sprinkled with a bit of The Boys and The Umbrella Academy.
The dragging, boring and frankly disappointing Season 1 of Jupiter’s Legacy only picks up in the very last episode, delivering some action and validation. The only other bright spark is the occasional Insta-quote worthy dialogue peppered across the season.
Look, the comic book itself was in not really original or path-breaking but what made it work was Frank Quietly’s art and Millar’s frantic plot pacing. We are at the end of the first season, and we haven’t even reached the pivotal plot point that kicks off the comic book’s storyline. Instead, the show has meandered through relationships, shallow socio-political commentary, therapy, drugs, hedonism, side missions and everything else apart from what made the source material enjoyable. The effort may have been to deliver a ‘more human’ superhero story – but the show stretches the original premise so thin that it feels equivalent to using chewed bubble gum as a wraparound for your hybrid sedan. The results are as ridiculous and pointless as the analogy I just made.
The show’s problems do not stop there. With only a few likeable performances from the likes of Matt Lanter (Silverfox) and Ben Daniels (Brainwave), most of the cast seems to be sleepwalking through the show. The visuals do not help either – making CW superhero shows look like big-budget, big-screen fare in comparison. In some spots the green screen mapping of the actors to the visual effects in the background is so laughably bad, that you are willing to forgive the costumes and the ‘stop-motion’ fight choreography.
The dragging, boring and frankly disappointing Season 1 of Jupiter’s Legacy only picks up in the very last episode, delivering some action and validation. The only other bright spark is the occasional Insta-quote worthy dialogue peppered across the season. There will be a lot of work for Season 2 to do, and I suspect a ‘fast-forward’, or a ‘hard reset’ may be needed to redeem this uninspiring mess. Meanwhile, if you are willing to subject yourself to the show, just to prove me wrong perhaps, I would highly recommend the strongest coffee blend you can find.