There’s A LOT of superhero shows streaming these days. From stories based on well-known properties like WANDAVISION or THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER to lesser-known comics-to-small screen hits like THE BOYS, UMBRELLA ACADEMY, or DOOM PATROL. And then there’s Netflix’s JUPITER’S LEGACY which feels left out of the hype-machine.
Based on the comics from Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, this eight-episode arc is a slow burn. I am not familiar with the source material, but having enjoyed other adaptations from Millar including KINGSMAN, KICK-ASS, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, I decided to give it a shot. The premise of JUPITER’S LEGACY, that American superheroes have existed for almost a century and their children are now starting to take on the reigns to be heroes in their own right, admittedly didn’t feel all that original. Episode 1 was intriguing enough and delivered on this premise while packing in lots of action and hero vs. villain fighting.
And this is where the story detoured and started to be about something else...and that was fine by me. The family at the center of the series are The Sampsons, lead by dad Sheldon (Josh Duhamel) also known as The Utopian, his wife Grace/Lady Liberty (Leslie Bibb), older brother Walter/Brainwave, and children Brandon/The Paragon, and Chloe. Throughout the next seven episodes, we learn how Shel, Grace, and Walter got their powers and how the expectations of them and their fellow superheroes evolved over the next century. Episode 1 makes a really big deal of one of the younger heroes coming into their own, only to mostly sideline them for the rest of the series. I can imagine that if you went in hoping for more here, you were quite disappointed.
A good deal of the series takes place during the Great Depression, and I found myself more invested in that storyline than I was with the present-day drama. The payoff of our backstory turned out to be a bit hokey, but it still made me excited for a potential season two. If the show moves forward, I hope they continue to jump around in time and fill us in on what our heroes were up to between the 1930s and the present day.
While the “period piece” aspect of the show succeeded for me, the present-day storyline was lackluster and sometimes confusing. I hope this gets better next season because it definitely felt like this was supposed to be the storyline that anchors the series, and yet often felt like an afterthought.
My favorite thing about this series was how different it was from the shows I named in the opening paragraph. It’s more mature than any of them and far more serious than most. As it jumps between times, it starts to lean into themes about wealth, class, and morality but stops short of any defining message. That’s fine for a series early on, but if it makes it to Season 3, I hope by then it's decided on what kind of show it wants to be.
JUPITER’S LEGACY S1 is streaming on Netflix.