We have barely had time to prepare this article on the comparison between the Netflix series and the comic it adapts, because ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ has already been canceled. And the point is that he deserves it twice: first, because the series is boring to kill; second, because completely wastes starting material.
As is logical, to reel off such a categorical statement, we will have to get into the swampy business of spoils that, in no way, are going to spoil your reading of the comics. If anything, they will improve the rather poor impression that the series will leave you.
Netflix’s star comic book writer
As long as you are a bit fond of superhero comics and some of the movies that adapt it, the name of Mark Millar it has to ring to you. ‘Wanted’, ‘Kick-Ass’? What do you think of the concept (because the comic, thank goodness, has little) behind ‘Captain America: Civil War’ or some of the ideas behind ‘Logan’?
This Scottish screenwriter started picking and shoveling in the industry, from British indie comics to major publishers, where he made a flag of lapidary phrases and very interesting concepts, as attested by his stages in the comics of ‘The Authority’ or ‘The Fantastic Four’.
At least, until he realized the obvious: It is very good to play with others’ dolls, but it is not so cool that they adapt you and you do not get royalties. Let them tell authors who should be swimming in money like Jim Starlin, the creator of Thanos, who was not even invited to the premiere of ‘The Avengers’.
His commercial flair led him to create the publishing house Millarworld in 2004 with two objectives: the first, write comics on which to retain intellectual property and share profits with the rest of the authors. The second is to offer film studios to adapt these comics. And what if he was right: his first works were taken to the cinema, he anticipated the superhero boom … and in 2017 he was acquired by Netflix. For the record, I think this “achievement” has not been achieved by any other publisher.
When in doubt: strike back
And how is a Mark Millar comic characterized? The main thing: they are dizzying works. There are a lot of twists, sarcastic retorts, and situations so it’s hard to get bored. And there is almost always an interesting concept, an idea that can be rescued … or at least, there was before. Over the years, it has been seen that his bag of tricks is not that big, that some of his provocations no longer have so much depth and that, perhaps, the overproduction to which he has devoted himself to nurture Millarworld has led him to a certain wear and tear.
Therefore, even if he has an interesting idea, he ends up wasting it in favor of the same four narrative springs that he handles effectively. Take for example ‘Supercrooks’, which is postulated as the continuation of ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ on Netflix: in principle, the idea of supervillains who go to the Canary Islands because there are no superheroes there sounds attractive, but in the end it has no narrative value and is he resorts to the kidnapping combo, more convoluted plan, more counterattack, which could have been set in the same way in Cuba or in Budapest.
And it is that Millar is a master at that (before also the sharp dialogue, although now he is lost in replicas more typical of a teenager), in the counterattack. He knows that few things make us vibrate so much than watching a hero fall and strike back a hundredfold.
That’s what ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ was about, about how a superhero kiddy, Brandon, rebels against the system his parents struggled to prop up instigated by his uncle Walter, discover that the world is more complex than it seems … and ends up receiving a sovereign beating at the hands of his sister Chloe, head of the Resistance and helped by supervillains.
Talk, of course, about how selfishness arose in an environment of privilege: Utopian and his family and associates are rich and famous. The true turning point of the comic is when Chloe’s son, raised in hiding and forced to hide his powers, behaves like a superhero in the shadows and sets off the alarms of his parents … and Brandon’s dictatorship. and Walter.
Come on, there were good ideas, but it failed (of course) in the execution, with a very hasty final battle, which also any regular reader of Millar savored as something already seen and felt in the last arc of the author for ‘The Authority’, for example.
To this must be added the clarity of the drawing of Frank Quitely, an ultra-precise pencil master that fills every panel with an insane level of detail. Few authors can boast like him to represent, with all its devastation and physicality, what is the attack of someone with superpowers. And his quality as a storyteller is beyond question, not to mention that, in general in his career, he likes to show fights in broad daylight with an expository clarity of clapping his ears.
This, the comic.
Let’s do the extraordinary boring
The series, however, found that the source material of the original series was for a movie and already, that Millar when he wrote ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ had his eyes on the cinema, the same one that he had already adapted, and improved, ‘Kick-Ass’ and ‘Wanted’.
The comic has a prequel, ‘Jupiter’s Circle’, which are a series of adventures about superheroes in the 50s, much better scripted but with no more common thread than the characters (there is not a great story behind, well, but a reading of the false morals of the time). A comic that works best on paper, as a complement to ‘Legacy’ and eighty years of history of the superhero genre. It is possible that they left these stories to complement a (chimerical) second season, but they did not work for this one.
The decision, therefore, was to scratch in the past of the characters and invent what was only supposed in the cartoons, in addition to adding a complicated plan to corrupt Brandon (Andrew Horton), the son, who instead of another misfit like his sister Chloe (Elena Kampouris), and an amoral susceptible to the songs of greatness of his uncle Walter (Ben Daniels), is in the television series another superhero, always in the shadow of his father and therefore frustrated.
Thematically, it made some sense: on the one hand, justify Sheldon’s moral code (Josh Duhamel) through his adventures in the America of the Great Depression; on the other, torture Brandon’s psychology with an ordeal that leaves him vulnerable to his uncle’s goings-on, more than willing to break the status quo through the immense powers of the family.
The television series is so slow that it does not even touch the most interesting thing in the comic and one of the strengths of Mark Millar, its screenwriter: the satisfaction of a good counterattack.
Do not tell me battles
It is the whole part of the past that weighs the most on the series. Millar knows that We may like to know how a superhero gets his powers, but that we don’t have to be interested in his life before the cape, Hence, Sheldon’s trip to the island is solved in the first vignettes of the first pages of the first issue: Sheldon dreams of a special island, his closest environment believes him and everyone accompanies him to find it. To justify that vignette, the series has put you more than two hours of plot.
As for Brandon, Walter’s plan to corrupt his nephew does not even bear fruit at the end of the season and is excessively convoluted. Again, Mark Millar in the comic shows that he can be a great storyteller since, in a couple of brushstrokes, we understand Brandon’s boredom for being the son of the greatest superhero that exists and the reasons you might have to kill your family and take over the world.
The fact is that, thematically speaking, the television series has a more thoughtful approach than the comic: somehow, all young characters who are children of superheroes feel abandoned, literally or ideologically.
How would it have continued? The most bitter thing about the cancellation is missing the counterattack against the Brandon dictatorship And if it had lived up to the comic. Possibly not and that it would have taken four seasons to get there: fault of Steven S. Knight, showrunner of ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ and that already made with the first season of ‘Daredevil’ a hard candy to swallow.
A heterogeneous casting
Another questionable point is the casting. Josh Duhamel He’s more like Sheldon Sampson, the man, than Utopian. And part of the blame is on the costumes: well for maintaining the primary, striking colors of their drawn version; bad for turning them into leftover armor of textures to disguise that there are not such big muscles underneath.
To top it off, it has zero chemistry with Leslie Bibb, who plays Lady Liberty, Sheldon’s superhero and wife. Lucky for him, Ben Daniels he does know how to replicate himself like his brother Walter, first in the real world and then in the world with superheroes.
On the more positive side, at least the chemistry between Chloe (Elena Kampouris) and Hutch (Ian Quinlan) works just as well as in the comic, although the cancellation of the series robs us of seeing Utopian’s daughter first disguised as a housewife and later scheming and leading the rebellion against her brother.
Save time, go to the original source
Definitely, ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ is a franchise that has problems both in comic and on TV. In cartoons it goes so full that it forgets to develop and exploit the entire narrative framework it offers, and in the series it goes so slow that it has ended up in the trash before even presenting a real problem for its characters.
And yet the work of Millar and Quitely is much better, because its adaptation suffers and magnifies the vices that superhero audiovisuals have acquired over the years: the stupid need to have to explain everything, from the smallest element of fantasy to the moral code of its characters; that an adult approach means a parade of sulking, talking busts arguing, when in vignettes it would be done during a good cake session; that the action is both confusing and dependent on slow-motion shots, bland, without the ability to transmit the energy of the contending forces.
Some vices that have cost him to continue his story … and that there are many more voices disappointed with the final result. Will they learn the lesson for ‘Supercrooks’, advertised as spin-off this? If we take into account that the comic itself was not very good either …
So it all comes down to a choice, reduced to a summery metaphor:why choose a bland and clumsy substitute, if you can go for authentic flavors like ‘Superman and Lois’, ‘Scarlet Witch and Vision’ or ‘Loki’?
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Why the ambitious bet on Mark Millar and Netflix’s superheroes failed