"A Conflict of Values"
What You Need To Know:
Season One of JUPITER’S LEGACY has touching, exciting, profound moments, but there are some slow, cumbersome moments. Season One contains strong moral elements. For example, it opposes evil and promotes helping other people, mercy, justice, and making the world a better place. It also has two scenes with overt, positive Christian references to Jesus. However, Season One of JUPITER’S LEGACY also contains some strong occult elements, some vague New Age mysticism, drug abuse, several scenes of depicted sexual activity, and excessive foul language.
OVERVIEW REVIEW: JUPITER’S LEGACY is a new superhero TV series on Netflix about the origin of a group of superheroes in 1929 at the start of the Great Depression, and the conflicts and problems some of the superheroes have with their adult children 92 years later. Season One of JUPITER’S LEGACY has some touching, exciting, profound moments and strong moral and even brief Christian content, but the eight episodes sometimes get bogged down and contain too much Non-Christian, immoral and negative content, including lots of foul language in each episode, some vague New Age mysticism and some gratuitous offensive material for adult viewers.
When the stock market crashes in October 1929, Sheldon Sampson watches in shock as his father suddenly jumps off the roof of their steel company building. Sheldon starts having crazy visions. He’s also haunted by the ghost of his father, whose face shows the impact of the sidewalk when he jumped off the roof. Sheldon’s older brother, Walt, doesn’t know what to make of his brother’s strange behavior when Sheldon is caught talking to himself. Their rich friend, George, however, is more sympathetic. He catches Sheldon drawing pictures of his visions. Eventually, George, Walt, Sheldon, Sheldon’s future wife, Grace, and a couple other people follow Sheldon’s visions to a strange island in the Atlantic Ocean, where some weird clues lead them to their destiny.
Ninety-two years later, Sheldon has become the leader of the Union of Justice, a group of superheroes formed by the people traveling with him to the strange island. Sheldon has become the most powerful superhero, known as The Utopian. His wife, Grace, has become Lady Liberty. His brother, Walt, is Brainwave. Their friend, George, is Skyfox, but years ago, he betrayed the Union of Justice and is now in hiding. Their other friend, Fitz, a black engineer who worked for Sheldon and Walt’s steel company, is the Flare, but sometime in the past he became paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
Meanwhile, Sheldon and Grace are having conflicts and problems with their two adult children, Brandon, and his younger sister, Chloe. Chloe has totally rejected her father’s moral lifestyle and code for superheroes. Sheldon believes the family should set an example for others. As leader of the Union of Justice, Sheldon sets the rules for how the Union deals with criminals and other bad guys. There must be no killing, he orders everyone. Instead, they need to catch them and lock them up.
In recent years, however, the bad guys have gotten more and more brazen, no longer bound by the rules of human decency. As a result, the lives of everyone, including the superheroes, are more and more at risk. Still, Sheldon holds onto “The Code” of the Union of Justice. It doesn’t help matters that America seems to be undergoing an economic and social collapse, including another stock market crash leading to another great depression.
His daughter, Chloe, sees her father as a hypocrite, who cares more about helping other people than her and Brandon. In the very first scene of the first episode, Sheldon admonishes a young Chloe for using her powers against a boy who was playing with Chloe and Brandon in a park. “You have to care about people,” he tells them. “It’s easier to hurt people, to get angry, to even kill people. The bad guys are people too. So, what do we do? We stop them, and we lock them up, but we do not let our anger get the best of us. Service, compassion, mercy, those are the words we live by. That is our Code, and it’s the most important thing in the world.” Immediately after this speech, Sheldon has to fly away to help some people in need, after promising Chloe and Sheldon they were going to get some ice cream.
After years of chafing under her father’s legalistic Code, Chloe is now in full rebellion. She wants nothing to do with the Union of Justice and the superhero lifestyle. Her celebrity status as the daughter of Lady Liberty and The Utopian has made her a supermodel who only likes to party and get high. In one episode, he accidentally runs into several criminals with superpowers, led by a young thug named Hutch, who happens to be the son of the supervillain, Skyfox. Chloe steals a package from Hutch’s gang, and the package turns out to contain a blue crystal opioid that she takes home to hold a drug party with her friends. Hutch tracks her down the next morning and finds her alone, still snorting the stuff when suddenly, she ODs and is taken to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Sheldon tells his wife, Grace, that he’s worried about their son, Brandon. Sheldon had hoped that Brandon would one day take his place, but he fears that Brandon isn’t measuring up to Sheldon’s satisfaction. Brandon overhears Sheldon telling this to his mother. Sheldon’s comments start to drive a wedge between him and Sheldon. It also starts to damage Brandon’s self-confidence further. He feels he’s never been able to measure up to his father’s expectations.
At the end of the first episode, Blackstar, a supervillain in a maximum security prison awaiting trial, escapes. Sheldon and Lady Liberty summon all the superheroes, including Brandon and the other children of the founding members of the Union of Justice, to battle Blackstar and take him back to prison. However, Blackstar is too powerful. Even Sheldon’s brother, Walt, aka Brainwave, is finding it hard to use his mind control powers against Blackstar. Instead, Blackstar manages to kill three of Brandon’s young friends and starts pummeling Sheldon and his wife, Lady Liberty, to death. Brandon becomes angry and fearful for his parents’ lives. He flies high into the air and delivers a death blow to Blackstar, caving in his skull.
Despite having saved Sheldon’s life, Sheldon is angry with Brandon for killing Blackstar and violating the rule against killing. He’s concerned that, by allowing killing, it would turn the Union of Justice into an extra-legal, rogue vigilante group that would be judge, jury and executioner. When Brandon and others note that Blackstar was about to kill him and Lady Liberty if Brandon hadn’t killed him first, Sheldon says their lives don’t matter. Only The Code matters. Later, when he learns that most of America agrees that Brandon did the right thing by killing Brainwave, Sheldon worries that all his life has been in vain.
In one episode, Sheldon tries to patch things up with Chloe, but she rebuffs him. It’s too late, she tells her father. Later, Sheldon tells Brandon, “I can’t lose you like I lost Chloe.” They seem to patch things up, but Brandon is having more doubts about the efficacy of The Code.
After the battle with Blackstar, the heroes discover that the person they were fighting is just a clone of the real Blackstar, who never left his prison cell. An autopsy reveals that the clone’s body contains a device through which someone was controlling the clone’s actions. They figure that’s why the clone seemed impervious to Brainwave’s mind control. They suspect Skyfox, their old friend, George, is behind the clone. Brainwave, Sheldon, Lady Liberty, and the Flare decide they need to use the device to connect Brainwave’s mind to whoever was controlling the clone. To keep the connection, however, Brainwave needs help from his own estranged daughter, Raikou, who also has powerful mental powers of her own.
Throughout all this, the younger superheroes who’ve decide to join the Union are growing increasingly concerned that supervillains are killing more of them, including the three young superheroes killed during the fight with the Blackstar clone. Not only is Brandon starting to agree with them, but so is Lady Liberty.
The first season of JUPITER’S LEGACY, consisting of eight episodes, has some exciting, touching and even profound moments, but the flashbacks slow the story down a bit. Sometimes, however, the story in 1929 is more interesting and captivating than the one taking place in present day. This is especially true when the episodes focus on Chloe’s obnoxious, rude behavior and drug abuse, or when they focus on what George’s son, Hutch, is doing with and without his criminal friends. It may have been better if the first season had just started with the earlier time period and then picked up what happens 92 years later (the creators may want the second seasons, however, to continue this back and forth narrative process).
Season One ends with a big cliffhanger twist that comes out of the blue, a twist that’s so totally unexpected that it may not actually make sense. Also, the makeup showing the aging characters could use more work. It’s not entirely believable. The older superheroes are played by younger actors, but the lead superhero’s father, who commits suicide in the first episode, is played by an older actor, so he didn’t need any makeup to look older. This is kind of annoying.
JUPITER’S LEGACY has a mixed worldview, with positive and negative content.
First of all, much of the first season seems to be a debate between legalism and antinomianism or lawlessness. Even if one bases his or her moral code on biblical principles, there will come moments where you will ask, how far should I carry this code, and how far should I leave the way open for mercy, forgiveness and grace? Applying a moral code or a set of laws is always going to have a way of veering between legalism, which can be unjust, and lawlessness, which can create moral and social chaos. At many points, therefore, the main theme and primary story in the first season is a conflict of values between the leader of the Union of Justice, Sheldon Sampson aka The Utopian, versus the values of Sheldon’s children and the values of other superheroes in and out of the Union. Sheldon’s daughter thinks her father is just a hypocrite who let his own children down while he focused on helping other people. Other people, including Sheldon’s son, are concerned that parts of Sheldon’s Code, put the lives of the superheroes more in danger. Of course, the problem with Sheldon’s Code is that there doesn’t seem to be much room, if any, for mercy or grace, including Christian mercy and grace.
Interestingly, however, early in the very first episode, Sheldon and his family, including his brother, Walter (aka Brainwave), sit down to dinner where Sheldon leads the family in a prayer to God that ends in the Name of Jesus Christ. Also, the second episode contains a short funeral scene where the priest mentions the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a positive, biblical . Sadly, however, there are no other overt positive references to Christianity or to Sheldon’s apparent faith. Also, the mystical scenes in 1929 and 1930 where Sheldon, his brother and their friends follow Sheldon’s visions that lead them to become superheroes contain no overt Christian references or even no strong Christian symbols. In fact [SPOILERS FOLLOW], they ultimately lead to a New Age kind of scene where everyone meets a vision of a beloved person who died. Thus, for example, Sheldon sees a vision of his dead father, who no longer has the headwound he suffered after jumping off the roof. Furthermore, the scene portraying the culmination of their journey following Sheldon’s visions is metaphysically and spiritually rather vague, despite having some morally uplifting references to reconciliation, letting go of one’s anger and unity of purpose. That said, their journey does seem to be some kind of a test of their moral worth for getting their superpowers. However, even though they all do appear to pass the test, at least one of them eventually turns against the others.
Sadly, though, despite the Christian references and strong moral elements in the first eight episodes of JUPITER’S LEGACY, the episodes also contain some strong occult elements as well as the aforementioned mystical, New Age tone in the revelations on the mysterious island. For example, Brainwave’s daughter is called a “psychic,” and characters interact with dead people, especially Sheldon when he’s haunted by his dead father. In addition, nearly all the episodes contain an excessive amount of foul language, more than 25 and sometimes more than 30 obscenities and profanities. Some of that foul language incudes at least two “f” words and several strong Jesus profanities. Also, the first season contains lots of action violence, but there’s also some (though not much), slightly gruesome, very strong violence. Three episodes contain some depicted sexual immorality. There is also some brief sexual dialogue. Finally, some of the episodes depict drug abuse, especially the fourth episode. In that episode, Sheldon’s daughter takes a bag of blue crystal opioid and throws a party where she keeps snorting it until she collapses the next morning and has to be rushed to a hospital.
All in all, the positive content in Season One of JUPITER’S LEGACY keeps it from being abhorrent. However, the Non-Christian, immoral and negative content in Season One combines to create an excessive, unacceptable piece of superhero entertainment. JUPITER’S LEGACY would have been much better if the creators had toned down most of the negative content and developed the positive early Christian content more in the later episodes.