I already had most of this review written when it was announced as not having been renewed for a second season, so even though I began to immediately think “what’s the point then?” I thought I’d finish it, if nothing else there isn’t a lot else to go up on the blog (beyond Doctor Who and anime) at the moment! So let’s look at the one and only season of Jupiter’s Legacy, yet another superhero show with a more mature theme, but at least avoids the “evil superman” trope that seems to be so commonplace… Let’s take a look!
Shortly after his father’s suicide in 1929, triggered by Black Tuesday, former businessman Sheldon Sampson travels to an uncharted island in the Atlantic Ocean, where he, his brother Walter, and four others received superpowers. He then creates a superhero team called the Union of Justice, and his guiding ideals – never kill anyone, never interfere in political matters – remain unchanged over the near-century of his adventures as The Utopian.
However, the next generation of superheroes, including his children, struggles to live up to his rigid ideals and high expectations. When Sheldon’s son, Brandon, seemingly kills one of their greatest foes, it ignites a public debate over whether those ideals are still relevant.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Is is bad that saying grace at a dinner table was used as an indicator of old fashioned values? I’ll let you decide (because I’m not opening up a religious debate here…)
The core idea at the heart of the series is actually a good one, it’s basically the Batman debate: does never killing your foes only lead to more death? In which case wouldn’t it be better to kill all the supervillains? The old guard of superheroes are still very much rigid in the “no kill policy” at the start, especially the Superman-like “Utopian” Sheldon Sampson (Josh Duhamel) but after his son Brandon (Andrew Horton) kills what turns out to be a copy of the supervillain known as Blackstar (Tyler Mane) after it takes out two of his friends it sparks a debate not only among civilians but among the superhero community of whether he did the right thing based on the idea that had he done it earlier the two heroes who died would still be alive. It’s a good idea for a superhero plot and it’s great seeing some of the older heroes slowly start thinking about it too, despite Utopian’s insistence that his ideal is still right. Sadly that’s pretty much where the modern day story stops being interesting…
Still what was entertaining the whole way through was the flashback story of how Sheldon Sampson and co. got their powers back in 1929. Sheldon and his brother Walter (Ben Daniels) have to deal with the fallout of their father committing suicide and their company failing and its made all the worse by Sheldon getting haunted by visions of an island and of his dead Dad taunting him. His best friend George Hutchence (Matt Lanter) brings him round temporarily but eventually Sheldon breaks again and goes searching for answers. Eventually George decides to humour Sheldon and the two manage to convince Walter, Fitz Small (Mike Wade) a man who used to work in their father’s factory, and Grace Kennedy (Leslie Bibb) a female journalist who actually was the one who broke the news of the older Sampson’s misdeeds after his suicide, to all go on a boat trip to some coordinates Sheldon sees in his vision.
The original six soon-to-be-heroes open the door to Jupiter’s legacy…
They eventually make it there, picking up a straggler on the way named Richard Conrad (David Julian Hirsh) who Sheldon had also been seeing in his vision. The six of them travel across the island and eventually make it to a cliff face where they’re forced to put their squabbles aside and touch the wall, getting teleported to a moon of Jupiter and given super powers. It was an entertaining adventure story, lots of bickering and arguments but lots of friendship and brotherhood as well, it was really good stuff.
That’s about it though, the ending had a few good twists that are now bittersweet because we’ll never get the pay-off…
Apparently Skyfox here betrayed everyone in the past, but given the cliffhanger I’m not so sure! … *sigh*, oh well.
The rest of the modern day stuff wasn’t all that interesting. Utopian’s daughter Chloe Sampson (Elena Kampouris) is a model and drug addict who acts like a spoiled brat with extra ugly realistic depictions of drug use and at no point was I routing for her to change or whatever the intent was. A lot of the other modern day heroes were completely forgettable, I mean I can barely remember any of them, and the only good twist was a criminal named Hutch (Iain Quinlan) who used a teleporting rod to commit crimes and stuff, but his big pay-off was one of the clever plot twists that will now never be followed up on, so even his role is now “tainted” retroactively.
Basically if this season was all the flashback stuff it would’ve easily been renewed for a Season 2, even if that second season would’ve then presumably been the modern day stuff and it would’ve collapsed again…
Credit to the special effects that still blow me away given it’s not a movie. I just need to wake up to the high budgets streaming platforms can offer!
I have a sinking suspicion that if I’d written this review and posted it before we found out it wasn’t being renewed I’d be higher on it, talking about the cliffhangers and twists and looking forward to a Season 2 that hopefully would build on the first and deliver a modern day story more akin to the great storytelling seen in the flashbacks. Sadly now we know this is a one-off with no real ending I can’t recommend anyone watch it. I’ll keep the score at a 3, it’s not actively terrible (and in fact it’s half really good) but just be weary of watching it as it might leave you wanting answers that will never arrive…