The American superhero drama is based on the comic book series of the same name written by Mark Millar. It follows the story of the world’s first superheroes who received their powers in the 1930s. But as they pass the torch to their children, tensions arise as the young superheroes, to prove their worth, struggle to live up to their parents’ legend in a world where the old rules no longer apply.
The season takes place in two timelines. In the present, Duhamel’s Sheldon and Leslie Bibb’s Grace have been married for 60 years. As superhero duo the Utopian and Lady Liberty, they’re protecting the Earth, stopping bad guys, and following a “code” that dictates that they never kill anybody, however evil, nor do they ever attempt to influence policy. Sheldon and Grace got their power in the distant past along with Sheldon’s brother, Walter (Ben Daniels), but somehow there are a ton of 20-something heroes who got their powers in some other way, heroes who aren’t convinced that Sheldon’s code still applies. The new heroes include Sheldon and Grace’s son, Brandon (Andrew Horton), struggling to emerge from his dad’s shadow, and rebellious daughter Chloe (Elena Kampouris), who uses her notoriety — superheroes are celebrities in this world — to get endorsement deals and do photoshoots.
There are a few bright spots within the show, like The Utopian having therapy sessions with a defeated villain he believes understands him better than anyone else, and a dramatic fight scene that takes place in a silent vacuum. While the special effects can’t rival the action in the big superhero fights taking place on Disney Plus’ Marvel shows, there’s certainly plenty of creativity on display in how various powers interact.
Unfortunately, that creativity is largely lacking from the rest of the series. Millar was trying to comment on the transition from the simple conflicts of the Golden Age of comic books, where heroes mostly dispatched bank robbers and silly costumed villains, to the more nuanced modern hero stories, which have become overtly political. But the conflict throughout most of the first season of Jupiter’s Legacy just boils down to whether it’s OK to kill a supervillain who’s about to murder you or your parents. The show hints at the more complex conflicts that the comics address, but the writers seem to be keeping them in reserve for a future season. It’s hard to care about how the story will continue, given that everyone in the show is either an evil cliché, exceptionally gullible, unreasonably stubborn, or barely a character at all.
It’s all engaging enough, but certain airlessness constrains the entertainment value. The problem is that it comes perilously close to taking itself too seriously. Any opportunity for fun is shut down by perpetually morose teens, action set-pieces we have seen many times before, and clunky speeches about the state of the. The occasional lighthearted moment would not negate the show’s sincerity. The confidence to include some might even display its depth.
Millar has always found ways to infuse his work with topicality—clumsy and ridiculous as the references might have been at times, at least they grounded the story. That realism is one of the hallmarks of Millarworld, where superheroes aren’t ensconced in icy fortresses or gloomy mansions but reside in the same cities as we do. They know that ordinary people face threats and obstacles that aren’t just of the death-ray variety. In Jupiter’s Legacy, only Walt seems aware of that fact (though that’s not exactly comforting); the rest of his family, including the extended family of superheroes, is too busy navel-gazing and fighting each other. In a bit of unintended symmetry, the show that’s supposed to launch the next big superhero universe is at ideological odds with its creator.
Final Score – [5.6/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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