'Heroes Reborn' Teaser Asks A Tough Question

It can't be a coincidence that NBC decided to unveil the newest teaser for their upcoming reboot, Heroes Reborn , only one day after canceling Hannibal, the network's most critically-acclaimed show. Perhaps they were hoping to placate irate viewers, or merely distract them, but either way, the new 40 second promo is here for us all to overanalyze the crap out of. While it doesn't feature much in the way of plot or characters or even any actual footage from the show, it does a good job of establishing what the tone of the 13-episode miniseries is going to be.

The first 15-second teaser for Heroes Reborn , released this past February during the Superbowl, featured shots of returning star Jack Coleman, new star Zachary Levi, and a hooded figure seemingly summoning an aurora borealis. But those fleeting glimpses were apparently too much, because the second trailer scales things back by a lot. In the vein of FX's recent promo for Season 2 of Fargo — which featured nothing more than a woodpecker and a snow-covered lake — NBC has gone for a more cryptic at this new world, featuring over half a minute of war, protests, poverty, fire, and even the world's most depressing dog.

These images of death and destruction are underscored by a cover of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters," sung by what sounds like a choir of schoolchildren. (It reminds me of the trailer for The Social Network, and its haunting choral rendition of Radiohead's "Creep.") In each lingering shot of burning farms or poverty-stricken neighborhoods or war-torn city streets are posters, flags, or graffiti bearing the phrase, "Where Are The Heroes?"

This is a great question. Where have the heroes been since the original series ended five years ago after four seasons? Either their absence has been very, very bad for Planet Earth... or what we're seeing in this promo is merely a possible future, like the many possible futures we were shown throughout Heroes. (I can remember at least three distinct future timelines: post-nuclear explosion, post-virus, and post-serum.)

Whether these shots are of present-Earth or future-Earth, they certainly set a relentlessly grim tone for the miniseries. This may seem odd for a show that, in its inception, levied its dark moments with pervasive optimism, bright colors, and cheerful protagonists. But, of course, this shift in tone shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, considering "dark and gritty" is the best way to reboot a superhero franchise. (See also: Batman Begins, The Amazing Spider-Man, Man Of Steel, Daredevil, Fantastic Four.)

Eventually the bleak barrage of blight and despair gives way to a familiar shot of the show's now-iconic logo: a total eclipse of the heart. I mean, sun.

It's the first recognizable image in the entire teaser, and is likely to elicit some raised eyebrows from viewers who, based on the first half of the promo, were expecting something equally weighty. It will be interesting to see how magnificently NBC handles "dark and gritty" when it comes to this Heroes reboot. Reborn premieres on Thursday, Sept. 24. Until then, check out the teaser below.

Images: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC; Screengrab/YouTube; masi-oka-fan/tumblr