'Heroes' Revival is Comfortable Going Full Geek

When TV has archers and speedsters, who needs cheerleaders?


They didn’t save the cheerleader. NBC is reviving Heroes, the mid-aughts breakout “geek” superhero hit that rode the wave before The Dark Knight, as Heroes: Reborn. If you remember the former cast, you’ll recognize some faces missing from the new lineup: Hayden Panettiere, Zachary Quinto, Milo Ventimiglia, Adrian Pasdar, and Ali Larter are all out.

So no Claire, no Sylar, no useless Peter Petrelli and his brother Nathan, and no single mom with the power of confusing story arcs Niki.

“Everybody who’s coming back has been in the press,” Tim Kring said to EW. “We have a cadre of characters from the previous that will make appearances — some bigger than others, some just in a cameo way. It will be an interesting use of the older characters.”

Heroes capitalized on (and helped hasten) the growing confluence of geek culture with the mainstream; they regularly took center stage at San Diego Comic-Con. Network television shows such as CW’s Arrow and The Flash are unabashed super-heroic. Heroes was almost ashamed of it. Every character dressed in some kind of black leather or military garb. There were zero cool, iconic costumes. The tagline, “Save the cheerleader, save the world,” was cute at first, but in hindsight it looks too timid by half, as if it needed a Friday Night Lights-style high school social hierarchy to lean on, afraid to go Full Geek. Other tropes, like secret identities, were not fully explored. When Ando and Hiro actually tried to do a Batman-type of operation, it fell apart. Heaven forbid a superhero show does superhero things.

Nowadays the Flash runs alongside a bunch of other costumed weirdos and Supergirl is starring in her own romantic comedy, and fans can’t wait. Maybe Heroes abandoning a serial killer, a hot cheerleader, a corrupt politician, and an Internet camgirl is its way of catching up to the geek zeitgeist. Heroes helped make TV safe for superheroes, and maybe it’s cool with that fact now.

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