Super Crooks May Have Surpassed Its Canceled Predecessor, Jupiter’s Legacy

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of Super Crooks, now streaming on Netflix.

Launching a superhero franchise is no easy task, as the cancellation of Netflix's Jupiter's Legacy proved. Despite building up the comic adaptation as though it could serve as a tentpole project to a whole franchise, the reception to the superhero show proved lackluster enough that it was not long after the series debut that its cancellation was confirmed. And yet, in its own way, the franchise continues on. Super Crooks proves that adapting the comic book world has a lot more potential than many viewers may have realized.

With a unique style, engaging action and an array of characters with loads of potential, Super Crooks manages to exceed what its predecessor achieved. Leaving fans hungry for more, it's clear that the Super Crooks anime has done what the live-action Jupiter's Legacy never could.

Despite being set in the same world, the two shows are remarkably different both in subject matter and in tone. Jupiter's Legacy focused primarily on parallel stories split between the past, where a band of adventurers set sail during the Great Depression to discover a mysterious island that granted them superpowers, and the present, where those same adventurers spawned a legacy of super-heroics that their children and the realities of society can't live up to. It was oftentimes somber, fixated on its deeper thematic messages and incredibly familiar to most anyone who has seen previous live-action superhero stories. In 2021, that's everyone.

Super Crooks shares none of those qualities. The stylish anime keeps its story moving as it introduces exciting criminals addicted to the thrills of their heists as much as the money it wins them. The series begins by introducing the young Johnny Bolt as he discovers his powers, but just as it sets up a familiar superhero origin, it off-roads into the tale of a supervillain instead. Through Bolt, the audience meets a cast of characters who put unique spins on familiar tropes, and by the end are left wanting to know more about each of them. Super Crooks has its own themes and lessons that unfold over the course of the season, but it conveys them without lectures or repetitious dialogue that spell out the point for its audience.

The two series certainly share a rich and interesting world. Created by Mark Millar and Frank Quietly in a 2013 comic, there's a lot of potential to be plunged in a generational and storied world of capes and cowls that paradoxically proves that no matter how much things change, they always remain the same. The heroic Utopian and the ideal he inspires creates a valuable opportunity to see how a civilization that spans the whole spectrum of morality deals with the standard he sets when handed the same power. The problem is that there are versions of that story already familiar to audiences through Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns that have already spawned countless adaptations and recreations. In order to make it feel new and unique, creators need to find a new perspective.

The perspective of the supervillains who operate in that world is exactly the unique ground Super Crooks finds. Through their eyes, there is an outlook on the titanic reputation of Utopian and his ilk that turns the story into a David and Goliath underdog tale. Johnny Bolt is not particularly powerful, and none of his friends are particularly smart or capable, but they're ingratiated to the viewer through hearts of gold and a sense of fun largely lacking from Jupiter's Legacy.

Jupiter's Legacy Feature Image

If nothing else, there's an appeal to the raw action of Super Crooks that keeps viewers coming back for more. Every episode features its own action set piece, many of which are every bit as imaginative and stylish as the rest of the show. Whether the supervillains are racing through San Francisco on motorcycles as they use their powers to escape a roster of heroes or enacting a heist that requires clever thinking and unexpected turns, there's always the promise of something cooler right around the corner to keep audiences engaged.

Jupiter's Legacy rarely had an action sequence that lasted more than five minutes, let alone entire episodes. Hyper-focused on building its world and characters, the series put the cart before the horse when it came to building a successful franchise. Conversely, Super Crooks knows that to make viewers want more, they need to have a blast with what they already have. As the title soldiers on into a live-action Super Crooks adaptation, this is exactly the spirit it should maintain, and it could well manage to salvage success from a franchise with so much potential.

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