Archive for May 16th, 2021

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, the third (final with original star Mel Gibson), and weakest in the Mad Max franchise.  It is actually better than it is given credit for, but the best thing about it remains the title song, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” by Tina Turner.  The words to the song suggest the people it is speaking for don’t need a hero, they just want a better life.  The film then explores the myth of the hero.  Max the hero of the film has become a shell of a man following the events of the previous two films, he isn’t looking to be anybodies hero, but as things tend to go in movies like this he finds redemption by offering hope to the kids in the film, not too far removed from the most recent, and superior instalment, Mad Max: Fury Road.  But max is a grittier hero, not the type that you see wearing spandex in a comic book.  Comic book hero’s, and villains are distilled to their purest form, of good and bad.  For many the line that a comic book her cannot cross is killing the bad guy, and this the core theme of the new TV show Jupiter’s Legacy.  As we reach saturation of the genre in movies and on TV, is there does the show offer anything new or interesting to say to justify its existence. 

We all know from Spider-Man that “With great power comes great responsibility”, although when you look a little deeper the idea goes back before that.  A variation of it was used by Superman’s farther in the 1940’s.  Similar things have been said by British MP’s and American Presidents, and it is known to be in popular use during the French Revolution.  The earliest written example probably goes back to the bible “To whomever much is given, of him will much be required”.  With this in mind, it probably isn’t a stretch to call it an overused theme! Not that would be a totally bad thing if it has anything else to say, and I would certainly expect it to have something to say, and come with a certain edge, after all it is based on a comic book series by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely.  Miller’s past credits certainly have fulfilled these criteria before; his DC work includes Superman: Red Son.  For Marvel he was responsible for Civil War, and Wolverine: Old Man Logan.  But possibly most significantly, he deconstructed the idea of the super hero in Kick-Ass. 

The bar has been raised by recent TV shows.  Having disavowed the many Marvel TV show’s we now have the MCU on TV.  The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has the production values of a movie, and is a timely exploration of race and how we treat the disenfranchised.  WandaVision may not have anything new to say that we haven’t already seen in the MCU, but really pushes the boundaries of storytelling.  But then there are two hugely significant TV shows Watchmen, and The Boys.  Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen follow on from the story of Watchmen that we all know, but goes beyond anything we saw in the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel and Zack Snyder’s movie.  The Boys is based on the premise of another famous saying, this time from English historian Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Based a comic book by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, it is set in a universe where superheroes are essentially assholes!  Super-powered individuals work for a shady corporation whose sole aim is to monetizes them. Most of the “heroes” are arrogant and corrupt, many are much worse!  This show works on so many levels. 

This brings us back to Jupiter’s Legacy, are we oversaturated with superhero movies and TV shows, and the only way to depict them is to deconstruct them? This may be the case, but unlike shows like The Umbrella Academy, and the aforementioned The Boys,   Jupiter’s Legacy does not commit to this.  Telling its story in two time periods, one depicting the origin of the heroes in depression era Chicago.  The second timeline in the present day explores their “legacy”.  The period part of the  show works well but the modern section is hampered by terrible wigs and makeup. But more significantly it doesn’t have anything new to say.  Ultimately, I can’t help thinking that unlike the people in the song, we don’t need another hero.   

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