The 13-episode "Heroes Reborn" series debuts tonight on NBC, reviving the concept and some of the characters from the original "Heroes," which ran on the network from 2006 to 2010. Along with familiar faces -- headlined by Noah Bennet, AKA "HRG," played by Jack Coleman -- the show also looks to introduce plenty of new characters, including Luke (Zachary Levi) and Joanne (Judith Shekoni), as the show pick up years later in a world that's greatly changed for those with superhuman abilities.
The return of "Heroes" to NBC also prompted the return of BEHIND THE ECLIPSE to CBR, our Q&A column with the show's writers and producers that ran during the life of the original series. In this special installment, series creator Tim Kring answers both questions from the show's fans and from CBR News, spanning how the mythology of the original series affects "Reborn" to whether or not there's more "Heroes" to come after this current run.
CBR News: The original run of "Heroes" received its fair share of both acclaim and criticism during its four seasons. How have those reactions -- both positive and negative -- changed how you approached the series now?
Tim Kring: "Heroes Reborn" is really attempting to be its own thing. When you get in the writers room and start to break story it quickly becomes apparent that it is only the story itself that is dictating where you're going and how you're approaching it. So you just have to put all of the past reaction and future expectations aside and tell the best story that you can.
The current series focuses on both new characters and old, with more of an emphasis on the new, but how does the mythology of the show -- from the Company to parents and lineage -- play into the new series?
The idea was to create a story that did not require a tremendous amount of knowledge of the prior series. That being said, the new story is dependent on a couple of key points in the original mythology. This is why the character of Noah Bennet was chosen to be at the center of the main plot. It is his story that helps to unpack most of that mythology. He is on a journey of discovery and we go along on it with him. By the time you get to the middle of our story, you will know everything you need to know about the past series.
Jack Coleman appears to be the only returning actor set to appear in every episode. What about his character of Noah Bennett do you think makes him not only massively popular with the fans, but such an integral part of this world?
If you know the original series then you know that he was always kind of the spine of the story. He was a character from which many other characters stemmed. He is also a character that does not have powers, but has the most detective-like qualities to investigate the deep conspiracy that is at the heart of "Heroes Reborn."
One of the issues that seemed to arise as the original series progressed was how powerful some of the characters became: most notably Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) and Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka). With Peter, he was given a "one power max" system, that worked well and serviced the character. Hiro seemed like possibly more difficult to "fix." Has that made you more conscious about what powers people in the world of "Heroes" have, and creating hard limitations on those powers?
Yes. The big problem that arises with a lot of these powers is that they become simply too powerful, and then you have to find ways to take those powers away, or limit them. This is a constant balancing act in the writers' room. Having very potent powers is fun to write, but sometimes writes you into a corner. Stay tuned to see how we deal with some of this in "Heroes Reborn."
When the series picks up, the world has changed. People with powers have to register and are heavily discriminated against. It's interesting because that "fake present" seems entirely real if people with powers existed. We see discrimination today toward people that are different. Is that why this particular theme was chosen for the revival series? And do you think this idea of being an outcast and feeling alone and discriminated against is what appeals to people about the show and characters?
I think for us the idea of depicting the world the way we are is was driven by many things -- we left off with the original narrative when Claire Bennet [Hayden Panettiere] outs her powers to the world. So that left us two choices -- either we come back and these people are now celebrities, revered by the greater society, or we depict a world where they are persecuted and exploited. The latter just seemed to be where the drama is, and allows our protagonist to be underdogs (always a good thing for drama).Â
But it also allowed us to depict a world that was much more recognizable to ours. Even this premise, you simply cannot avoid comparing "evos" to many groups of people who are discriminated against currently. Those conclusions would be drawn by our audience whether we pointed them out or not. Depicting a world that the audience inherently recognizes, makes it easier for us to tell a relatable story for the characters that we have developed.
Let's turn to fan questions for the second half of our Q&A: Kamose1234 asks, "'Heroes Reborn' is said to 'reconnect with the basic elements of the show's first season,' with ordinary people discovering they have unique abilities, but are there plans for other elements from the last show to be just as impactful? I noticed in the trailer it seems the aspects of solar eclipses effecting people with powers, Mohinder's adventures, Japanese swords and a dystopian future are present. Will the mythology of these aspects evolve and connect over time like it did in the original show? Also would you say 'Heroes Reborn' is in the realm of the future from season one's 'Five Years Gone'?"
There is a lot here in this question -- many of the concepts from the original series are parsed out in new and different ways in "Heroes Reborn." These work within the narrative for all of the new viewers, While providing context and Easter eggs, and hopefully some answers, or new dimensions for any of the fans of the former series. We didn't want to just shoehorn stuff from the old show into the new, so anything that you find or recognize has real purpose and real meaning within the new narrative.
As for your question about "Five Years Gone" -- thankfully, we stopped that future from ever happening. So this five years later is a very different one, based solely on the idea that Claire Bennet [revealed] her powers to the world in the final moments of the previous series.
Michael S. asks: "Is this a one-and-done revival, or is there a real chance of having more seasons after this one?"
This is a one and done for this particular story. I have always seen the "Heroes" universe as being elastic enough to create new characters and new stories. After all, the world will always need saving, and with our premise, there are always people waking up to the discovery of their unique abilities.
Victor R. asks: "When 'Heroes' first debuted, the television landscape was a lot different. Now that superheroes are constantly on screens everywhere, how do you think 'Reborn' is going to stand out?"
First and foremost, "Heroes" was and continues to be about characters. Their powers are secondary. Both the original series and "Heroes Reborn" have elements of being a family drama, and melodrama, a broad comedy, a thriller, all while tap dancing in and around being a genre show. There was always a kind of sleight-of-hand quality to the original series where you thought you were seeing many more genre elements than you actually were.
So, while there are indeed many more shows with superpowers on TV, we continue to hope that a show about characters dealing with these unique abilities, while trying to save the world, can still stand out. Fingers crossed that we're right.
Antonio O. asks: "Where is Ando, and do the original comics still count in continuity?"
There are many characters from the original series that do not factor in to "Heroes Reborn." That does not mean that they do not exist within the universe of our mythology. They're simply not featured in this particular story. The characters that we did bring back all serviced the narrative that we were telling. So, should there be more storytelling the future, we reserve the right to bring any of those characters back. And yes, all of the mythology from the previous series is still part of canon.
And another one from Victor R. to conclude: "If you could've concluded the original run of 'Heroes' any way you wanted -- disregarding strikes, network meddling and all that jazz -- how would you have done it? What's the director's cut in the back of your head?"
This is a fascinating question because in many ways, the missing five years between the two series meant that we approached "Heroes Reborn" as Season 10 of the original series. So the ending has not been conceived yet. In my mind, there are many volumes, all with their own beginning, middle and end in what is a larger, ongoing, story-driven universe.
"Heroes Reborn" debuts with a two-hour premiere on NBC tonight at 8 P.M.