Each week, Dom from Talkin’ TV be recapping Netflix’s newest superhero series Jupiter’s Legacy, exploring the ins and outs of Mark Millar adaptation.
EPISODE 1 – BY DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT
We open with the last thing people are expecting from their superhero properties nowadays: with the joy of children playing. While mainstream media has deluded us into thinking that such things and ideas are childish and corny, and that they have no place in today’s deep, dark, brooding, serious Snyder & The Boys violent filled gore porn. But that’s far from the truth. At the end of the day, as serious as it gets, superheroes were designed for children, to fill them with hope and inspire them to do greater things. And while this premiere episode falls a little bit into of the Netflix trap of being part one of a movie rather than the initial installment of a series (I know they sound like the exact same thing but I promise you, they are not), it’s safe to say that Jupiter’s Legacy spells promise for the genre going forward, that it does have hope for escaping the trope filled familiar corporatization that we’re experiencing right now with the genre.
Jupiter’s Legacy is based off a Mark Millar comic, as part of a huge deal that the streaming titan made with the off kilter comic book writer a couple years ago, and features around a family who have been superheroes since the 1930’s. The central figure is known as the Utopian, but to his family he is merely Sheldon Sampson (Josh Duhamel), a man struggling between being the family patriarch who’s attempting to instill some morals in his now grown children, and being the flawless, visionary superhero the world needs. Filling out the gaps of the immediate family are his wife Grace (Leslie Bibb in a fitting come full circle moment since the first Iron Man) aka Lady Liberty; his brother Walter (Ben Daniels) aka Brainwave; his son, Brandon (Andrew Horton) aka The Paragon, who is trying desperately to live up to his father’s image; and estranged daughter Chloe (Elena Kampouris) who has left the superhero life behind to pursue the celebrity route. While we’re not introduced to the central conflict of the series, the pilot episode, entitled “By Dawn’s Early Light” does a compelling job introducing us to each of these characters and allowing us to understand their role within the family hierarchy and how that’s going to spell out across the rest of the series.
While the action itself is a little hokey and CW-esque, Netflix has a bad tendency of revealing its low budget during action sequences, the themes of living up to ideals versus dealing with them in the modern sense are very apparent, and they bode well for separating this from the rest of the superhero ilk. What’s interesting however, is how this is the latest in a phenomenon we’ve been seeing in television since Netflix really came onto the scene, which is the concept of a pilot season rather than a pilot episode. The idea being that rather than telling one cohesive story within the 30-60 minutes that usually comprises a standard episode of television, that the story is spread out into pieces across a certain amount of episode. This has had varying results, with sometimes excellent installments (Stranger Things Season 1), and some absolutely abysmal efforts (pretty much all the Netflix Marvel shows with the exception of Daredevil). It was kind of inevitable with the birth of streaming, specifically with Netflix’s model, but the difference being that before, Netflix was attempting to mix and meld the old ways of watching television, but now they’ve seemingly reformatted it. This debut season, rather than consisting of their usual amount of 10-13 episodes of over an hour long, consists of 8 episodes, all consisting of 36-47 minutes of content, which makes for a far more refreshing binge, which bodes well for Netflix given that the majority of their consumers watch new content within the first weekend of it being dropped.
As for the actual plot, not too much happens, we get a glimpse into the lives of the Sampson family, as well as interesting flashbacks to Sheldon’s younger days during the beginning of the Great Depression. It’s not much, but it’s enough to give us a glimpse of Sheldon’s central conflict of balancing out the quote on quote “good ol’ days” with the struggles of the modern day. It hints at an interesting type of superhero struggle that we haven’t really seen since the Incredibles, as well as highlighting how Sheldon’s sense of nostalgia is blindsiding him to his children’s struggles, as well as some other sinister things that may be lurking on the horizon. Whatever the case may be as far as the future of the show goes, it was certainly an interesting pilot, and it will be interesting to see what comes next for the Sampson family.
Reviews for the remaining episodes of Jupiter’s Legacy will be released on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week.