Netflix (USA) 2021, Action, Fantasy, SciFi
Creator: Steven S. DeKnight
Cast: Josh Duhamel (Utopian), Ben Daniels (Brainwave), Leslie Bibb (Lady Liberty)
When it first came out seeing the first images, the first thing one would think is another superheroes show, taking advantage of the boom that big companies like Marvel and DC opened for those who have jumped on the wave of exploitation/exploration of the genre. But more than a superhero genre, it is more of an homage of sort of the Justice League concept (just the concept). The typical archetypical powerful character that flies around and shoots lasers through the eyes. There is an equally powerful woman who also flies and the others.
Each of the new narratives has its peculiarity and its things to highlight. The most notable in the latest installments are the excessive violence, the disdain for life and human integrity, and the graphic scenes with predominantly crimson tones. A peculiar observation of this boom is that all these series and films are capitalizing on their most powerful character (Brightburn, Homelander, Omniman, Utopian) and instead DC wasting theirs (Superman) by having one of the most followed and loved actors. of the moment that is Henry Cavill.
This is not the case with Jupiters Legacy adaptation created by Steven S. DeKnight (Titans of the Pacific: The Uprising), based on the eponymous comic series by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely. Although there are some graphic scenes, the focal point of Jupiter’s Legacy is the principle on which they base their beliefs called the «code». Which is not very specific to what it refers to and that is where the failures begin.
This series bases much of its narrative on the fact that we know or think we know the fundamentals of superheroes because of the already deeply ingrained comic culture in our minds. The assumption that all superheroes are good and that they are guided by ethical principles is the cornerstone of comic book characters. Although each story is its own universe and it is not necessary to explain it, the mentions are vague and sometimes unfounded.
The Hero’s Journey
Another highlight of the series is that it tells two narratives at the same time. The story of Sheldon Sampson Alias The Utopian (cool name for a superhero) played by Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas) and the storyline in the present time of the Union of Justice which is like The Justice League in DC or The Seven in The Boys.
Of the two stories, the most attractive is Sheldon’s. It takes place in the 1930s city of New York just in the boom of the stock market crash. Sheldon and his brother Walter have a company along with their father. When the collapse of the stock market exploded, their father commits suicide in front of Sheldon by jumping from a building. This triggers visions of his dead father trying to guide him to a special place.
Here arises another of the problems of the story. All the visions happen in Sheldon’s mind and based on pure flashes he goes from one place to another trying to make sense of images scattered through his mind. For anyone, these actions are worthy of a shrink but somehow he manages to convince his colleagues to follow him on this journey without any foundation or basis, just his word (and the money of one of his friends).
The Union of Justice
In the present time, the same characters of the past now in hero uniforms are already seen fighting a villain that clearly looks like a mixture of Thanos with Darkseid. The CGI and special effects look like they where stolen out of any 90s show. The conflict arises when the son of Utopian kills this Villian, breaking the «code» and all that this failure entails for the psyche of the characters.
The narrative is slow but is understandable. It gets into emotional conflicts very Netflix style which is not very good, although it leaves enough cliffhanger in each chapter so that you want to see what happens in the next one which is good, but all the filling in between is not excellent.
In conclusion, it is a story of superhero origins that shows only half of its potential. One can assume it is because of the Streaming platform where it is played what limits it or it was already planned that way. Instead of standing out as an eye-catching series, it remains within the pile of series that are “not so good but not bad ether” joining series like Marvel’s Agents of shield, and all the Warnerverse series such as DC’s Legends of tomorrow or Supergirl.
A story of superhero origins that shows only half of its potential