Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, superheroes are big business. Netflix used to be in the Marvel superhero business, but then Disney+ came along and all the Marvel properties vacated the streaming platform for their own in-house service. So Netflix just went out and got some more.
Back in late 2017, Netflix signed a massive exclusive development deal with Mark Millar, and it was quite the coup. The prolific Scottish comic book writer’s work on Marvel’s The Ultimates helped to birth the MCU (including redesigning his Nick Fury to look like Samuel L. Jackson, who actually then ended up playing the character on-screen), while his stories were the source material for the likes of Wanted, Kick-Ass, Kingsman, Logan, Fantastic Four, Superman: Red Son, and Captain America: Civil War. Netflix’s deal would see the streamer adapting titles from Millar’s creator-owned Millarworld publishing label and now the first of those adaptations is here.
As Millar describes it to EW, the upcoming comic book TV series Jupiter’s Legacy asks “What if the world’s coolest guy, like Superman, married the world’s coolest woman, like Wonder Woman, and they had these f—ing awful children who would be like the Kardashians?… Imagine The Incredibles, but the kids were a nightmare.” If that sounds a bit too reality-TV-ish for you, don’t worry as that’s just Millar’s dry humour. The actual concept for Jupiter’s Legacy is a whole lot more epic.
Josh Duhamel leads the cast, in a story that spans two time periods: the Great Depression 1920s, and 120 years later in a time of superheroes. In the former, Duhamel’s Sheldon Sampson is an adventurer who gathered up a group to help him find a mysterious island that is haunting him in recurring visions. In the latter time period, we find that what Sheldon found on that island granted him and his compatriots vast abilities and now he is known as The Utopian, the world’s most powerful superhero. But while he and his wife Grace aka Lady Liberty (Leslie Bibb) – and the rest of the superhero team they formed, known as The Union – have protected the world for over a century with strong moral convictions, it looks like the apples have fallen very far from this tree.
Enter Chloe (Elena Kampouris) and Brandon (Andrew Horton), the superpowered children of Sheldon and Grace who are deadset on not following in their parents’ footsteps. And they’re not the only ones out there who no longer want to abide by the example of The Utopian.
After almost a century of superheroes just maintaining the status quo, the smart ones start wondering what happens if they break the rules the older heroes have held onto their entire lives. What happens if they step out of this repetitive cycle? This is our starting point and it just goes nuts from here.
It also drives The Utopian nuts as he bears the weight of his children’s decisions… as well as his own so many years ago.
We’re cutting back and forth between this naive optimism of a guy [Sheldon] who utterly believes he’s going to save America by finding this island that doesn’t exist and this man [in the present] who ultimately knows he’s failed. He’s failed the country, he’s failed the world, and he’s failed his own family because the kids have ended up a mess.
Also thrown in the mix is Sheldon’s former best friend George Hutchens (Matt Lanter) who has become Skyfox, the world’s greatest supervillain. His son, Hutch (Ian Quinlan) is engaged in a Romeo/Juliet style romance with Chloe, adding additional drama. That’s all while also contending with the villainous Blackstar (Tyler Mane), who has his own evil axe to grind with The Utopian and his family, such as Sheldon’s superhero brother Walter aka Brainwave (Ben Daniels). And all of this playing out over a century.
If all of that sounds epic, it’s because “epic” is exactly what Millar was going for when he created Jupiter’s Legacy.
When I did my first ever superhero book I had to do something bigger than Avengers or Civil War or Logan or Superman: Red Son. That was my plan when I sat with the blank piece of paper. I wanted to do one story that would become the biggest superhero epic of all time. I wanted to do the superhero Lord of the Rings that would be timeless and just a bumper collection of books people would be reading in 50 or 100 years time.
At this point, I have to warn that Millar is known for his penchant for hyperbole. That being said, Jupiter’s Legacy is shaping up really nicely, especially when it comes to well Netflix has adapted the characters and world straight out of the pages drawn by the brilliant Frank Quitely. And in a little promo vid, we get to see some of Quitely’s art and how it inspired the upcoming series.
Millar has made comparisons between Jupiter’s Legacy and The Godfather, “in the sense that it’s about an unusual family at the heart of the most outrageous situation.” Through all of that though, “it feels incredibly human and very layered because you can relate to everybody within the story and it gives it that humanity.” Having some great looking costumes and cool action won’t hurt either.
The seven-episode first season of Jupiter’s Legacy is scheduled to debut on Netflix on 7 May 2021. Spartacus creator and Pacific Rim: Uprising director Steven S. DeKnight will serve as showrunner.
Last Updated: March 2, 2021