When Heroes premiered on NBC in 2006, comic-book interpretations, for the most part, hadn’t saturated the television landscape. This was one of many things that made Heroes feel fresh when it first appeared. It’s break-neck pace and deft balancing of multiple narrative threads (including jumps of time and place) helped create a riveting first season.
The original series centered on a seemingly random group of individuals with superhuman abilities. Among the original heroes were Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), a high school cheerleader who is virtually indestructible, Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), a Japanese office-worker who can control time and teleport, Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), a police officer who can hear other people’s thoughts and Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia), a 20-something hospice nurse with the ability to fly. The narratives of each character intertwined as the heroes were drawn together by the need to evade Sylar (Zachary Quinto), the super-powered serial killer who wishes to harvest their super-DNA for himself, as well as their ultimate destiny – to save the world.
Heroes Reborn will begin five years from where Heroes ended. Like the original series, the 13-episode event series will be broken down into “volumes”, with the first two chapters, “Brave New World” and “Odessa” premiering back-to-back on September 24.
In preparation of the debut, I re-visited the original series’ finale, “Brave New World” (also the title of the reboot’s first chapter) to see where some of the original heroes’ stories left off:
- Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman)
After escaping near-death with the help of his daughter, Claire Bennet, and Tracy Strauss (Ali Larter), Noah plays a large part in thwarting Samuel Sullivan’s (Robert Knepper) plan to kill thousands of people and expose the heroes to the world. Once Samuel’s followers are teleported away by Hiro Nakamura and Ando Masahasi (James Kyson), Noah has Samuel, who is now powerless, arrested and covers up the incident.
- Peter Petrelli
In accordance with his dream/prophecy, Peter enlists Sylar to help him stop Samuel from murdering thousands of people in Central Park. Peter flies them to the Carnival where he is able to tackle Samuel, breaking his concentration and stopping him. By prolonging the fight, Peter holds him off long enough for Hiro to teleport everyone else away from danger, stripping Samuel of his powers.
- Matt Parkman
Matt is initially furious that Peter released Sylar from the nightmare he had trapped him in, but relents when he learns of Samuel’s plan. Matt brainwashes Eli, Samuel’s right-hand man, into turning against Samuel, which ultimately helps defeat him as Eli’s support helps Claire and Noah convince his followers to turn against Samuel and strip him of his powers.
For Sylar, “Brave New World” is a journey to redemption. While trapped in the nightmare Matt Parkman created for him, Sylar experienced three years of penitence for his past and emerged a new man, ready to save the world rather than destroy it. He assists Peter in stopping Samuel and revels in his new role as a hero rather than a villain.
- Hiro Nakamura & Ando Masahashi
While testing his renewed powers, Hiro finds Charlie, the woman he fell in love with 65 years ago before she was kidnapped. He discovers that she had been teleported to Milwaukee by her kidnappers and was able to begin a new life and family there. With Charlie safe, Hiro declares his quest complete until Ando reminds him of Samuel Sullivan. Hiro take the two of them to Central Park where they are able to teleport everyone out of the Park, stripping Samuel of his powers and allowing Peter to defeat him.
- Claire Bennet
Claire assists her father, Noah, by rallying Samuel’s followers against him. Eli, having been brainwashed by Matt Parkman, arrives to support Claire and they are able to gather them together for Hiro to teleport them away. Once Claire is reunited with Noah, she states that Samuel was right about wanting Heroes to live freely. Despite Noah’s protests, Claire climbs the Ferris wheel as Noah, Peter, Sylar, Hiro, Ando, and the press (who have arrived to cover Samuel’s arrest) watch from below. She catapults from the top of the Ferris wheel and lands, face-first, on the ground. She gets up, unharmed, therefore exhibiting her power to the public.
Right before she jumps, Peter says to Sylar: “She’s going to change everything.” To which Sylar replies, “That’s right. It’s a brave new world.”
Heroes Reborn will be the exploration of this new world. Now that the existence of “evos” (evolved humans) has been exposed, the super-humans are the targets of widespread discrimination and are being hunted by multiple organizations. While a host of new characters are sure to be introduced, the trailer for the series promises re-appearances by Noah Bennet (a.k.a. HRG), Matt Parkman and Hiro Nakamura. Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), the geneticist who investigated the Heroes, and Angela Petrelli (Cristine Rose), mother of Peter Petrelli, are also scheduled to return (neither of whom were present in the series finale).
While Heroes Reborn has the nostalgia factor in its favour (aided by the returning original characters), it is appearing at a time when superhero adaptations are prevalent across all media platforms. Shows such as The Flash, Arrow, Gotham and the much-anticipated Supergirl are just some of these iterations. The ubiquity of superhero narratives paired with the disappointing last two seasons of its predecessor means that Heroes Reborn will face an uphill battle. Its competition includes Thursday-night football on CBS and the established domination of Shondaland on ABC (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder airing back-to-back).
Despite these challenges and the reservations they inspire, I look forward to re-entering the dark universe of the Heroes franchise and hope to be introduced to characters as memorable as the original cast.
Heroes Reborn premieres Thursday, September 24 at 8 p.m. on NBC.