Heroes Reborn: Brave New World
Back in 2006, the same year as X-Men: The Last Stand was in cinemas, the TV viewing world was enthralled by Tim Kring’s Heroes. It might have been preceded by decades of franchise superhero TV shows, but this was new material, immersed in the tropes and language of superhero comics, while also not one of them. It was accessible, breeching the strictures of its core demographic and making stars of its actors. Two things killed Heroes in the end: A writer’s strike, and having a major, popular protagonist be a samurai time-traveller. Heroes’ Hiro was not the only overpowered character, turning the promising show into an unwieldy mess. The show came to an end in February 2010, so it’s only appropriate that Heroes Reborn returns to UK TV six years later to the month.
It’s had a bit of a rocky start; in 2013 Microsoft was considering its own Xbox-exclusive streaming TV offering, kicking off with Heroes, but that didn’t come to pass. The reboot then came to the US in September 2015 to middling reviews, and finally to the UK’s 5*; hardly a high-profile launch.
The last minutes of season four of Heroes had us moving into a new chapter for the heroes, a Brave New World. But while this new episode has the same title, it doesn’t follow on directly. Time has passed and the world has changed; then, in mere minutes, it changes again. A 9/11-style tragedy unfolds, leading us into a scenario not unlike that of the X-Men, or Marvel’s Civil War storyline. Those with powers, Evo’s, go from being a bright new hope, to hunted monsters. Only the ‘Truthers’ believe that it’s not the Evo’s at all, but a conspiracy. All very politically poignant, albeit ten years too late and somewhat amateurishly applied.
Noah Bennet, now devoid of his famous horn-rimmed glasses finds himself trying to make sense of a new life, with a new name, where the pieces and the memories don’t match.
Elsewhere, the rest of the Reborn cast takes shape. In Tokyo, Miko Otomo must find her identity and katana to become Katana Girl.
Young Tommy Clark must escape the twin terrors of high school cliché and anti-eco vigilantes. War hero Carlos Gutierrez must take his brother’s mantle to become masked hero El Vengador. A powerful young blonde lady must keep what appears to be the Eye of Sauron from devouring the world.
But in the end, it always comes back to Noah Bennet. Clues and conspiracy theorists lead him to an old friend, his horn rimmed glasses, and this season’s oft-repeated theme: Something is coming.
It doesn’t quite have the snappy glory of Save the cheerleader, save the world, but it’s what we have.
Many Heroes fans gave up on the show before it finished, meaning a clean break, with references to older characters was always the best way forward for Reborn. But the bitty narrative, clichéd over-complicated storylines and simple characterisation might have worked a decade ago, but now our standards are somewhat higher. Our new high-water marks for superhero TV are in the form of Gotham, Arrow, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Sadly, whilst watchable, judging by the first episode Heroes Reborn does not meet this standard.