Tim Kring’s Heroes arrived at a curious point — before it became mandatory for actors to sign years of their lives away to movie franchises and cinematic universes playing caped do-gooders. Before every major movie studio and television network mined the resources of DC and Marvel for a moneymaker. Heroes established its own world, with its own rules, and for its first season, succeeded in standing out in a TV landscape awash with other non-superhero fare. That original series got its marching orders in 2010.
And now it’s back in the shape of rebooted miniseries Heroes Reborn.
Cancelation came as a surprise to Kring, leaving a lot of loose threads dangling. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, the show chronicles the experiences of a group of ordinary people across the world as they come to grips with the superhuman abilities they each possess. They unite to battle various evils (evil hero Sylar, a mysterious organization known as The Company) while adjusting to their new lives. By the end of its fourth season one of its lead characters, cheerleader Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), revealed her true identity to the world.
Reborn picks up five years later. During the gap between the series’ end and 2015, it’s explained that the story has continued in the interim, with the reboot serving as a quasi-tenth season. Now that the entire world knows about the heroes, society responds as society often does onscreen: with fear and revulsion towards the unknown. One year prior to Reborn’s opening, a mass-scale attack on Odessa, Texas leaves the city leveled. Officials believe it’s the work of the heroes sending most of them into hiding from threatening forces.
One of those threats hails from a newly-minted tagteam of villains - which, let’s be fair, were the best part of the original show. Chuck’s Zachary Levi plays Luke and Judith Shekoni plays Joanne. Neither are fond of the EVOs — evolved humans — as witnessed in the above trailer. “I think it’s important the world gets stories that are ambiguous, that are gray,” said Levi at Comic-Con. “As far as Judi and I are concerned, you very quickly learn why they are on that journey and will that journey ultimately pay off for their souls, for their psyche. But they are characters that are more defined in their villainy.”
From the outset, the series was designed as a self-contained story that wraps up by the end of its 13-episode run. Plot-wise that’s a good thing, as it enabled for a more “aggressive kind of storytelling.” As a result that means there’s not a great deal of screentime for us to get acquainted with the newcomers before we have to start caring what happens to them. The extended cast of freshly-spawned EVOs includes Robbie Kay, Gatlin Green, Danika Yarosh, Kiki Sukezane, Rya Kihlstedt, and Henry Zebrowski - whose character Quentin features heavily in the prequel web-series.
Speaking at the Television Critics Press Association tour, Kring laid out the truth about the revolving cast aspect, and how this second shot at Heroes hews much closer to his original intention, “The primal existential questions of why and what’s my purpose? I always thought of it as a show that could repopulate itself.” And it’s definitely done that.
Most of the main Heroes cast have moved on, which is why the focus has shifted onto that bunch of fresh recruits. Aside from Jack Coleman’s return as Noah Bennet (aka Horn-Rimmed Glasses, aka HRG), the other returnees will only appear for smaller, supporting roles. Masi Oka picks up his katana as Hiro Nakumura (blessed with the ability to shift space-time), Greg Grunberg returns as telepath cop Matt Parkman, Sendhil Ramamurthy returns as Mohinder Suresh. What would Heroes be without the Haitian? Nothing. Luckily Jimmy Jean-Louis is also reprising his role.
As their absences in the above list suggest, Milo Ventimiglia, Adrian Pasdar, and Panettiere aren’t back. Kring confirmed that the Odessa attack which precedes the show holds the key to Claire’s fate, because… SPOILER ALERT!… she died in the city’s destruction. That in itself should hopefully be addressed by the inquiries made by her father Noah (aka HRG) as she… well, just watch the video above. If Claire’s regenerative ability was somehow affected, then what Kring said in that same breath could point to her return. He referenced Hiro’s ability to travel through time and how that could play a key role in a potential second season (yeah, yeah, he said it was a self-contained story, but whaddyagonnado?) Might someone finally save the cheerleader?
Heroes Reborn debuts with a two-hour premiere on NBC September 24th.