Like so many other things in life, success in television is all a matter of timing. It’s perhaps not fair that Jupiter’s Legacy, a perfectly serviceable show about the dysfunctional dynamics of multiple generations of superheroes, would be released within a month of Invincible, one of the most well-received superhero shows in recent history. There’s nothing wrong with Jupiter’s Legacy, not really, but it will likely find that the comparisons between the two aren’t going to be favorable. It’s due to listlessness and lack of focus that Jupiter’s Legacy regrettably fails to reach the staggering heights we’ve seen from other superhero shows.
In the world of Jupiter’s Legacy, there’s a large and varied community of superheroes in an organization called the Union, which has a strict code of conduct to keep those with special powers from abusing them. But for the purposes of our narrative, we’re focused on one specific family of superheroes. Utopian (Josh Duhamel) and Lady Liberty (Leslie Bibb) are the parents, both idealistic, incredibly powerful, and much, much older than they look (we see in flashbacks that they were already full-grown adults in 1929 when the stock market crashed.) They have two kids: Brandon (Andrew Horton), who carries the family’s legacy on his shoulders and is desperate for the approval of his father, and Chloe (Elena Kampouris), who has rejected the superhero lifestyle and chooses instead to work as a model, determined to establish a separate identity for herself.
At its best, Jupiter’s Legacy is an exploration of the burden of familial expectations and how toxic dynamics develop and are passed down from generation to generation. Every young superhero on the show grapples with their relationship with their parents, whether it’s healthy, dysfunctional, or somewhere in between. There are hints of compelling dynamics in the main family: the age-old conflict of the son trying to please his father and the father subconsciously resenting the presence of his own replacement. (Utopian may age super-slowly, but he won’t be around forever.)
But the actual narrative arc has major pacing issues — it takes an eternity before it feels like you’ve gotten far enough into the show to even care about the characters. Part of this is probably related to the decision to intercut scenes in the present with the origin story of Utopian and the Union. If it was done well, it would build narrative tension, but here it just dilutes the impact of both storylines. There’s a world in which both of these stories work on their own but put together, they prevent either from establishing a foothold.
It’s also surprisingly humorless. It doesn’t fall into the category of purposefully gritty comic book adaptation, but it lacks a certain levity that might give the show an appealing energy. As a result, the tone of Jupiter’s Legacy is strangely flat, making it read as disappointingly generic, without any standout qualities to define it. The characters are sympathetic enough, but none jump off the screen through sheer force of personality. The narrative switches between so many different individuals, especially in the first few episodes when we’re just getting our bearings, that by the time we begin to develop any affinity for the characters, we’ve already lost interest. Would it have been worth spending the first two episodes focusing on just this one family and then expanding outward to the larger community and exploring various backstories? It probably couldn’t have hurt.
Under normal circumstances, Jupiter’s Legacy would probably be fine if a little uninspired. The unique abilities of each superhero are interesting, and the concept of a child born to greatness who walks away from the superhero lifestyle as though it’s a particularly damaging cult is fairly unique. But there’s just not enough to Jupiter’s Legacy to allow it to compete with the current glut of top-tier superhero content we’re faced with across a variety of streaming platforms, both from the juggernauts of Marvel and DC as well as independent sources. Honestly, the TV landscape is pretty well saturated at this point, and it’s difficult to tell if there’s a place for superhero content like Jupiter’s Legacy that’s no better than average.