As the series premiere of Jupiter’s Legacy opens, the joyful sounds of children playing fill the air. Two young boys and a girl, all in makeshift capes/costumes, chase after one another, acting as though they are famous super-heroes and -villains battling it out. All is fine until it isn’t: after a brief but heated debate about the accuracy of the girl’s fictional laser beams, the young girl, in a fit of frustrations, fires off a sort of supersonic banshee-like blast that sends both boys to the ground, unable to move. Once the sonic onslaught concludes, one of the boys runs off in fear while the other runs to the side of his sister to comfort and calm her; he’s concerned that she’s used her superpowers in public. This is when the siblings’ father, a Superman-like figure, drops from the sky to give his children a talking-to before being called back to duty. Clearly, the family of which Jupiter’s Legacy revolves around is far from normal.
When Your Dad is Superman…
The central figure of this tale is the patriarch of a super-powered family, the Eutopian (Josh Duhamel), is the Superman of the Jupiter’s Legacy universe; his wife Grace (Leslie Bibb) is also a hero, Lady Liberty, and his children, Brandon (Andrew Horton) and Chloe (Elena Kampouris) whom we met in the first scene of the series, are imbued with superhuman abilities, but only Brandon carries on in his parents’ footsteps as the Paragon. Unfortunately, the Paragon isn’t all that good at the whole superhero thing and everyone knows it.
Finding a way to crawl out from under your father’s shadow can be challenging for some sons; just imagine if your father is, literally, Superman. Despite his ongoing efforts, the Paragon has failed to live up to his father’s mythical status. Thus, the Eutopian is concerned about his son taking up the mantle when he inevitably buys the farm. Chloe, who’s dealing with Daddy issues of her own, refuses to fight alongside her family members and spends her time living it up as a super-powered party animal. There are clearly a few pieces missing from her story, as her motivations aren’t entirely clear, yet, but in due time, I imagine she will become more of a character and less of a plot device.
When your dad is Superman, things can be strange. The unpacking of this issue will surely serve as a cornerstone of this series in coming episodes.
Pow, Right in the Kisser
Despite the Eutopian’s set of Batman-like rules against killing and what have you, a head rolls in the series premiere and there’s some serious ass-kicking. This won’t come as a surprise to those familiar with Millar’s work. The man doesn’t write comics like everyone else, why would a television series based on his work be any less violent, any less intense, than its source material.
The flash of extreme violence seen here is, I’m sure, only a taste of what’s still to come. More likely than not, there will be an epic showdown or two soon enough, and more likely than not, at least one of said showdowns will be a complete bloodbath.
Millar & Moore
Jupiter’s Legacy is more of a love letter to comics and the superhero-fantasy genre than it is a quasi-pretentious subversion that provokes thought through spandex-draped discourse. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbonss Watchmen—and nothing else that bears the names—and consider it to be an important piece of literature; Jupiter’s Legacy is not Watchmen, and that’s a good thing. Rather than upending/deconstructing the genre and its key figures, Millar makes good use of the tropes, that fans are all familiar with, in order to reel in viewers before unsettling them with the unfamiliar.
Whereas Moore utilized Watchmen to converse, mostly, with comic book outsiders, Millar creates the sort of conversation that long-time readers (and now, thanks to the success of the MCU, watchers) want to have with one another. Yes, seeing Captain America punch Hitler in the face is awesome, but thinking about how superheroes would actually govern themselves in times of war is much more interesting, right? The super-powered good guys in Jupiter’s Legacy have refused to engage in international conflicts, like WWII; this sort of inaction comes with the sort of weight that us average folk are used to dealing with throughout our lives.
Where We’re Going from Here
It’s still far too early to say if Jupiter’s Legacy is going to maintain the momentum gained in the premiere, but I’m confident that it will. Come episode’s end, I was eager to dive back into the story and have some of my questions answered. Apparently, the first generation of super-powered folk had to go through Hell in order to get their powers; I would like to know what that means and would like to see the lengths that men will go to in order to attain immense power.
And there’s the familial strife. If the superhero origin story that’s bound to unfold isn’t as interesting as I’m being led to believe it will be, the genuine human drama will sustain my interest long enough to leave me feeling guilty about not finishing the series, I’m sure.
But I have a feeling that it’s not going to come to that…
The Bottom Line
Jupiter’s Legacy hits incredibly hard while offering viewers a well-crafted blend of caped-crusading-escapism and social commentary; this combination makes for a grounded viewing experience that’s as exciting as it is though-provoking. Jupiter’s Legacy is a must-watch series.