Heroes Reborn: A Non-Spoilery Review from TIFF


By Shannon Fox, @shannonfox


This past Tuesday, I flew from New York City to Toronto for one very important reason:


The world premiere of “Heroes Reborn” at the Toronto International Film Festival.


“But why fly to Canada when the show premieres just a week later?” you may be asking. Well, I’m a little bit nuts. Let’s get that admission out of the way right at the beginning. But, guys, I have been DESPERATE for Zachary Levi to play a darker character ever since I first saw “Chuck vs. The Tic-Tac” (you know, the one where Chuck takes a pill called Laudanol and it suppresses all of his emotions and he turns into this super bad-ass of awesome). That desperation was fueled even further when I watched Spiral (like, he’s not really dark there, just sort of a jerk, but that end scene is SOME RIDICULOUS acting skills. No, wait, “skillz”, with a Z). So when his role on “Heroes Reborn” was announced to be quite a bit darker and a big departure from “Chuck” or any other role he’s played before, I was, to put it very lightly, FRIGGIN’ PSYCHED.


I had also sporadically caught the first series when it aired the first time around, too, so I was vaguely familiar with the show- though, I’ll admit, my appreciation was focused quite a bit on Zachary Quinto and Sylar, because that guy is SO GOOD AT BEING BAD.


So yeah, I COULD’VE waited until the 24th to finally lay my eyes on “Heroes Reborn”, but the opportunity to see it early came up and you know what? I TOOK IT.




The premiere was at the Winter Garden Theatre in downtown Toronto on Tuesday night, and it was AWESOME. I went with a bunch of nerd friends (we called the event “CaNERDa”) and stood in line in front of the theater for a couple of hours to get a good seat. It was neat- the red carpet was basically just on the other side of the audience line, so as we made our way into the theatre at showtime, we were able to catch quick glimpses of the cast coming in. I’ll admit though, I was sort of on a mission to get a good seat, so I sped by pretty quickly.


The Winter Garden Theatre is GORGEOUS. There’s a tree in the back of it (like, the trunk rises out of the floor), so we had foliage and pretty lanterns above our heads the whole time. Pretty magical, right? Like, if they don’t do a Tangled event eventually, they’re missing out on a HUGE opportunity. Anyway, the audience found their seats, and then the cast filed in (only about ten rows in front of us! I could’ve tossed popcorn at their heads.).


Then, the premiere began! Tim Kring, the creator of “Heroes” and “Heroes Reborn”, was announced. He came out onstage, and thanked the audience, cast, and crew for their dedication. And then… it was time to watch the episodes.


(NOTE: This is strictly a NON-SPOILER review. I will be recapping the episodes after they air on NBC, and those will be chock full of spoilers, but for now… mum’s the word for me!)


Okay, first, I want to address the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind: How much of the original series do you have to know to watch and understand “Heroes Reborn”?


Before I saw the episodes of the new show, I watched ONLY Season One of the original “Heroes” and the prequel, “Dark Matters”, and I understood what was going on just fine. That being said, I think you’d still be okay without seeing any of that- a lot of the first two episodes is setting up the stories. The previous characters or storylines from the original show that are pertinent to this story usually came with some exposition. BUT I think you should at least watch the prequel, mainly because it’s SO GOOD, and it explains the references to the original series a little more. Some of my friends that attended with me had seen all of the seasons and caught many more references and understood better than I did, but I don’t think it’s completely necessary.


Now, since this is The Nerd Machine and I’m sure you’re all curious about the role that Nerd 001 has to play in the “Heroes” universe, let’s talk briefly about Luke Collins. Guys, Luke Collins needs like fifty bajillion hugs. The guy is a tortured, torn-up mess. Is it tough to see our beloved Nerd Leader take such a dark turn? No, and here’s why: his performance is SO INTRIGUING. Yes, as a longtime Zac fan, it’s interesting to see how different Luke is from any other character he’s played, from his voice to his mannerisms. But I feel like Luke’s conflict shows very clearly on his face throughout the episodes, and it made me want to know SO much more about his thoughts and motivations. There’s quite a big difference in reactions between Luke and his wife, Joanne, and I’m interested to see how that’s going to play out in the episodes ahead.


Which brings me to my general response to the premiere as a whole: I NEED MORE. For a show that has SO many characters and storylines, I think this can be considered a definite positive reaction. While the premiere contains two hour-long episodes, “Brave New World” and “Odessa”, each character is only given several minutes of airtime, since there’s so many to get through. Both HRG, played by Jack Coleman, and Tommy, played by Robbie Kay, seemed to get the biggest chunk of these first two episodes. We are also introduced to a plethora of others, though: Ryan Guzman’s Carlos, Gatlin Green’s Emily, Kiki Sukezane’s Miko, Henry Zebrowski’s Quentin (continuing his story right where the prequel left off), and, as previously mentioned, Judi Shekoni’s Joanne (there’s another character that we spend a bit of time with, but I’ll refrain from mentioning that one, since it’s a bit of a spoiler). Added to those are a large amount of side characters and returning characters, though it seems we may have to wait for later episodes to welcome back some of the latter. With such a large cast, two hours only BEGINS to chip away at each of their stories and how they’re all connected, so I was with the rest of the TIFF audience when the second episode ended and a loud noise of frustration echoed through the crowd. Thanks, Tim Kring- I’ll now be waiting with bated breath until the third episode premieres on October 1st.


So yes, “Heroes Reborn” definitely lives up to the hype, at least in my opinion. Fans of the original series will find the same fast pace and interweaving story lines that they came to love and expect from the original. But be forewarned: the world that we are brought back into is not the the one of the original series, and we are shown that very early on in the premiere.


As for the TIFF experience, we were treated to quick Q&A with Tim Kring and the cast after the watching the episodes. The cast revealed that a lot of their preparation involved a lot of hours at the gym (apart from Greg Grunberg, who gleefully admitted that his preparation for coming back to Matt Parkman’s character included NO hours at the gym), and Zac was even asked whether or not the “Heroes Reborn” cast would be welcome at a future Nerd HQ again (the answer was yes, obviously).




I am so grateful that I was able to attend the world premiere at TIFF- it was a really fun and unique experience that I won’t forget! As for the rest of you, you can catch the two-hour premiere of “Heroes Reborn” THIS THURSDAY, September 24th, at 8PM. Don’t miss it!


Moments To Look Out For In the Premiere:

  • A very Chuck-esque moment (at least I thought so), but NOT with Zac’s character.
  • A plot-device that’s both a big risk and completely unexpected, but so far so good!
  • Something that will have fans of the original series FREAKING OUT.
  • There’s a toy shown that I want SO BAD!


Are you excited for “Heroes Reborn”? Will you be watching on the 24th? What do you hope to see? Let us know in the comments!


  1. SashaSeptember 18th, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Aaaaargh. Now I wait even more impatiently.
    Loved the original even though I only caught it on Netflix (starting to watch it with the SOLE purpose of gazing longingly at Santiago Cabrera, who was written off far too soon unfortunately).

    And I completely agree on wanting to see Zachary go darker.

    Thanks for this lovely review which really left us wanting.

  2. DeeZeeSeptember 18th, 2015 at 10:29 am

    I’m cautiously optimistic, as I am with any new TV show that has great potential. I loved the first season of the original series and I am hopeful that–with this being positioned as a 13-part mini-series–it will have a discreet storyline with a beginning, middle, and an end. That’s what the original show was intended to be.

    I look forward to seeing Zac do a different kind of role, but I also hope the story arc for his character is an interesting one. It’s one thing for his fans to like it, but another if he can gain new fans in the process.

    Thanks for the article. I hope everyone watches this.

  3. JayneSeptember 18th, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for a spoiler-free recap which just whets my appetite for more … So much that I’ve created a US Apple ID so I can buy the series on iTunes & hopefully not have too much of a delay in watching as I’m not sure when we’ll get Heroes Reborn in the UK. I’m really looking forward to your recaps Shannon, thanks for the time you take doing these for us, I really appreciate it!

  4. skorpeoSeptember 18th, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Yay for more writing deliciousness from The Shans!!

    I’ve been plowing through the original series, but I’ve never heard of “Dark Matters”…. Have I been living under a rock and not known it?

    Oh, wait…I remember now: I was married. (Ooooooooh, SNAP!!)

  5. KrisSeptember 24th, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Yay. Will get to see this premier-ing in Singapore (cable tv) tomorrow/ Friday evening!

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