A characteristic scene for the present-day material in “Jupiter’s Legacy” opens episode six, wherein the Superman of this universe, The Utopian (Josh Duhamel), is making love to his wife Grace aka Lady Liberty (Leslie Bibb) when he detects a rogue comet that needs to be stopped. She isn’t so much upset as hopeful he can pick up the dry cleaning on the way home … from saving the planet. The Utopian aka Sheldon Sampson has two children: Brandon (Andrew Horton) and Chloe (Elena Kampouris). The former is a hero named The Paragon but dad isn’t sure his offspring really knows how to use his powers. The end of the premiere features a decision made by Brandon that violates dad’s heroic code and divides the Sampson family and really the entire planet about what heroes should be allowed to do. Meanwhile, Chloe is even more rebellious, carving her own path through life as the celebrity daughter of the most famous couple in the world.
Especially within the father/son dynamic that’s also played out on “Invincible,” the family half of “Jupiter’s Legacy” feels a bit overdone and underwhelming. Much more successful are the flashbacks, told in a wider aspect ratio, that detail the origin story of The Utopian, Lady Liberty, and four other heroes who would be known as The Union. It turns out that Sheldon’s father was one of several men who hurled themselves from a building during the stock market collapse of 1929, sending the wealthy Sampson clan into chaos. Sheldon’s brother Walter (Ben Daniels) tries to keep him in line, but Sheldon starts to have visions of a far-off island that he’s never seen before. Over the course of the season, young Sheldon, Grace, Walter, Richard Conrad (David Julian Hirsh), Fitz Small (Mike Wade), and George Hutchence (Matt Lanter) make it to that island, where everything changes.
Constantly cutting back and forth between the present-day material and the origin story for The Union with the only visual cue being a different aspect ratio (other than the removal of some pretty mediocre old-person make-up on Duhamel, Bibb, and others) gives “Jupiter’s Legacy” a unique rhythm. Despite my general aversion to origin stories, I vastly preferred the flashback material, as it has an old-fashioned adventure serial tone that’s almost Spielbergian at times. The present-day stuff has a habit of being clunkier, especially when the action kicks in. When the flashbacks are reminding me of Spielberg and the current stuff is reminding me of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” it’s not hard to pick a favorite.
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