May 15, 2021

"Jupiter's Legacy": 537 Convoluted Plotlines. Something to do with Superheroes, I Guess

Jupiter's Legacy
, on Netflix, is another of those opaque titles with no discernable meaning: no character named Jupiter, no reference to the planet Jupiter.  Maybe a reference to astrology?  After three episodes, I've noticed four distinct plot threads:

1. The aging superhero Utopian, aka Sheldon (Josh Duhamel), and his wife, Lady Liberty/Grace, try to instill good old-fashioned "God and Country" values into their grown children -- they begin each meal with prayer, for instance, and insist that you never kill anyone, supervillain or not.  

The kids, however, have gone off on their own paths, returning just for Sunday dinner and "you were never there for me!" arguments: Brandon/Paragon (Andrew Horton, top photo) has his own superhero buds, while Chloe is immersed in a celebrity-kid downward spiral of drugs, illicit sex, and modeling shoots.

2. Flashback to Black Friday, 1929.  Young Sheldon and his brother Walter (Ben Daniels, shown here with his boyfriend) try to keep their steel company from going bankrupt (wait -- so Sheldon is about 120 years old?).  Their Dad commits suicide by jumping off a building, but then starts appearing to Sheldon and berating him.  

Sheldon thinks that he's going crazy, and retreats to his room, refusing to eat or sleep, scribbling odd nonsensical patterns on bits of paper.

3. Still in 1929, George (Matt Lanter) is ultra rich -- every morning he has his chef prepare 100 boiled eggs to choose from (tell me that he donates the leftovers to a homeless shelter).  He's also obviously gay, with fey mannerisms and multiple rings, constantly flirting with men, treating women as friends.  He even starts his day by listening to the old jazz song "Painting the Clouds with Sunshine," which begins "Pretending to be gay..."  (the old meaning, of course, but obviously symbolic).  

He goes to visit his best friend Sheldon, gives him heart-to-heart advice, and determines that the weird scribbles actually depict a windmill from Sheldon's past.

At this point I'm guessing that Sheldon, George, Grace, and the other superheroes are aliens who came to Earth as children and got their memories wiped.

4. Back in the present, Hutch (Ian Quinlan) is the leader of a criminal gang in an underworld where most people have superpowers.  He doesn't, but he has a magical rod that will zap him to anywhere he wants to go (it's also good for killing people; just tell it to go to his target's heart).  

His plotline was unnecessarily complex.  He was supposed to steal something, but the job got botched, so the Big Bad gave him another assignment, which also got botched.  Meanwhile he had a third job, unconnected to the others, which allowed him to purchase a superweapon for an unspecified secret agenda.  I guess there are two takeaways:

1.  Hutch's criminal team includes a cute guy (Morgan David Jones), maybe his boyfriend, and two women, who are in a relationship with each other (and have sex on the kitchen table).  

2. Big reveal:  Hutch is George's son.

Beefcake:  I haven't noticed any yet.

Other Sights: Some of the 1929 mansion sets are stunning.

Heterosexism:  Not much.

Gay Characters:
 Hutch's criminal teammates.  Obviously George, son or not, although in the original comic books, he's straight.  Hutch will apparently start a relationship with Chloe, the Utopian's daughter. 

 I thought that Brandon/Paragon, Sheldon's son, had a romantic relationship with Barry/Tectonic (Stephen Oyoung): he complains "I hardly see you anymore!"  But the character is killed off immediately.

The original comic book series was apparently quite homophobic, and included a character with the "dark secret" of being gay:  Richard/Blue Bolt.  He hasn't been introduced in the tv series, but I understand that his gayness will not be mentioned.  Don't want to get all those Million Mom superhero fans upset!

Convoluted:  Very.  Everyone has unexplained prior relationships, motives, back stories. Characters are introduced in excruciating detail, then vanish; major characters haven't even appeared yet.  It's taking forever for Sheldon, George, and the others to discover that they're actually aliens with superpowers (wouldn't you just know: "hey, most people can't fly!").  Referring to people randomly by their street and superhero names doesn't help.

My grade: C.


  1. I can't hear Lady Liberty in a superhero context without thinking of the Force of July. So, these were Batman antagonists from the Outsiders era. Major Victory, Lady Liberty, Mayflower, Sparkler, and Silent Majority. The liberal media may say Batman and his Outsiders are the good guys, but the Force of July knows that just confirms they're the bad guys.

    Yeah, I don't call them villains because frankly they're too stupid to be villains.

    I like how the no-kill thing is presented as "ok boomer". Just picturing Jason Todd saying "But Daaaaad, murder is who I am! Gaul, you just don't get me." (Yeah, the no-kill thing is pretty limited in modern comics.)

    I assume the 1929 stuff is reference to the Golden Age (Depression and WW2). Marvel basically forgot most of their Golden Age characters, only dragging them out when that was the point. We got a new Human Torch, and Cap and Bucky came back, and that's it. DC did this elaborate split into two separate worlds because in Barry Allen's world OG Flash Jay Garrick is a fictional character but Jay Garrick talks to Batman and Barry Allen also talks to Batman and it just gets more bizarre from here.

    Surprising no beefcake. But that's more Bronze Age and later.

    To be fair, superhero comics are notorious for killing off love interests gratuitously for angst purposes. Naturally I thought of Teen Titans, because "implied romantic history with same sex protagonist", "gratuitous death", all you need is "sometimes good, sometimes evil, always a cinnamon roll" for a Venn diagram of Jericho.

    Most likely Wertham's corpse would rise from the dead.

    Hey, "because comics" is a phrase for a reason. Look at how many backstories were made bizarre by Crisis on Infinite Earths.

    1. I think Hutch is going to vary between good and evil. Since he has the habit of calling pairs of bad guys by 1970s names, like Captain and Teneille (I can't recall the exact names), I thought he was named Hutch as in "Starsky and....", but it's probably just a shortened form of his father's last name.

    2. To be fair, shifting allegiances are a major part of the genre now. Hell, it's arguably what made Secret Wars (Marvel's big event in the mid-80s) memorable, and added gasoline to the "Is Magneto really a villain?" debate.

  2. In the comics they actually do deal with Blue Bolt being gay. It takes a surprising turn, too. It starts off seeming to be homophobic, but doesn't end that way. To be honest, I'm tired of seeing series or comics that have all kinds of fantasy aspect but they still make a gay person seem deviant or have to deal with homophobia. (Don't get me started on racism.) But in the comics I feel like they did it in a good way, even if I'd have rather it not even be an issue at all. I haven't finished the Netflix version.


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