They are back to save the world with their super-powers ....but do we really need saving?
I recall being quite drawn to the first season of 2006’s Heroes.
Back then it was cool to see a multiracial cast strewn across the globe, seemingly connected by comic book-like super-powers. The fact that it was a particularly strong ensemble made it all the more richer: Zachary Quinto, Hayden Panettiere, Milo Ventimiglia, Masi Oka, Jack Coleman, Greg Grunberg, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Ali Larter.
While it ran for four years, I also recall some frustration with subsequent seasons, and the idea of keeping characters so compartmentalised -rather than interacting within the same universe- began to wear thin. Since then we’ve had a slew of stories that use the world as their backdrop as global threats unfold upon disparate characters. There is a risk in being too grand at the expense of a driving, sympathetic character with a clear story arc.
Five years after Heroes‘ universe ended, it’s back as miniseries Heroes Reborn, largely with new characters and a handful of familiar faces.
Jack Coleman returns as Noah Bennet, who we meet in the ominous opening scene when the town of Odessa, Texas, is subjected to a terrorist attack -or possibly, as a shadow suggests, an Independence Day attack. (Conveniently) killed in the attack is daughter Claire Bennet, without as much as her cheerleading pom-poms visible in the rubble. Cross Hayden Panettiere off the list…
The opening sequence flashes through various time periods and locations, a fugitive on the run 9 months ago, high drama on an icy tundra in China 4 months ago, trouble at the Canadian border 7 weeks ago, and Chicago “today” where a group of ‘Evos’ -evolved humans- are huddled in a self-help group mulling their super-human point of difference and why it’s them against the world.
Into this group lands teenager Tommy (Robbie Kay), struggling with his super-powers and fleeing just before they are wiped out by dexterous vigilantes Luke (Zachary Levi) and Joanne (Judith Shekoni) who blame the Evos for the attack. All of this is monitored by a mysterious, hatted individual (Pruitt Taylor Vince).
Tommy has eyes on high-school sweetheart Emily (Gatlin Green) who agrees to keep his powers a secret.
Meanwhile in LA ex-soldier Carlos (Ryan Guzman) is at odds with his brother, but his gifted young nephew Jose (Lucius Hoyos) looks up to him. Elsewhere in Tokyo, gamer Ren Shimosawa (Toru Uchikado) stumbles upon Miko (Kiki Sukezane) whose powers and quest for her father will place her -literally- inside a video game. There is also a fleeting appearance of another Evo, Malina (Danika Yarosh), doing her best to hold off some sort of eclipse, presumably somewhere near the polar icecaps or aurora borealis.
Finally, a conspiracy theorist Quentin Frady (Henry Zebrowski) is determined to convince Noah of a bigger truth and adding a little offbeat humour in the process.
Over the opening two hours the various threads of characters, locations, backstories and super-powers will rise and fall. For the audience Jack Coleman as Noah is clearly the most-established of these, although his cool demeanour doesn’t make him the most ideal around which to axis a sequel. Former faces including Greg Grunberg, Masi Oka and Sendhil Ramamurthy are set to surface in the 13 episodes, but it isn’t clear how prominently they will feature.
Of the new characters, Carlos (Ryan Guzman) is the most engaging, displaying alpha-male attributes but with a softer side and troubled by the challenges ahead. Teenager Tommy (Robbie Kay) is effective in anchoring a high-school world which would be otherwise missing without Claire Bennet. If it’s all a bit apple pie and school-jock, thankfully it isn’t for too long.
It wouldn’t be Heroes without some action, CGI and futuristic threats and on that front the show ticks the boxes. But it does so at the expense of cohesiveness and sympathetic characters. In the challenge to keep all the balls in the air, there are too many scenes that feel incomplete in developing the story. This leaves the sum of the parts as a frustration to the viewer. Tim Kring’s view of the world has potential if only it could be reined in to a more linear story than this heavy buffet. There are occasions when the dialogue is decidedly popcorn…
Tossing one of the few female characters into an animated video game, presumably for a male-skewed audience, also denies it considerable perspective.
But if Heroes Reborn is looking to work as an event series, it needs to rely less on the audience having been invested in the past and refresh as a stand-alone saga, something Torchwood managed to do quite well.
At this early juncture, I’m less convinced this world is worth saving, let alone reviving.
Heroes Reborn begins soon on Seven.