Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Heroes - Unmasked?

As I sit here impatiently waiting for the next episode of Heroes, which I happen to think is the best thing on television, I can't help wondering: how many other people think the show could still be drastically improved by the addition of brightly colored spandex?

I'm a superhero fan from way back. I absolutely love the genre, and I guess I'm something of a purist. And so, while I have to say I love Heroes to death, I also have to say I simply don't understand why they think it's necessary to keep these guys in street clothes... not to mention denying them traditional superhero names.

Just what kind of a superhero (or even super agent) name is "Horn Rimmed Glasses", anyway? The fact that they've had an episode which gives the character a MUCH better name (Company Man!), yet the fans keep calling him HRG, drives me freakin' crazy.

Many people I've spoken to suggest that this is some sort of calculated ploy to attract viewers who aren't old-school superhero fans like me. And given the viewers' inability to recognize a better superhero name when they hear it, maybe there's some truth to that. But we've seen a steady stream of superhero films lately that have all done pretty well. Surely this is evidence that it's not really necessary to deny genre conventions to appeal to the average viewer. Mightn't it serve the viewers better to show them what the genre is really all about, rather then keeping them in ignorance out of a misguided fear that they can't handle it?

I'm holding out hope that the show's creators fully intend to develop their world into a more traditional (if not 4-color) superhero universe. They do seem to be slowly ratcheting up the power level and special effects, at least. But I have a poor track record about predicting these things. For years, I was convinced that Buffy's friends were going to take their place at her side in battle with their own fully developed sets of powers: Willow the Witch, Xander the weapons and military tactics guy, Oz the werewolf, and so on. But that apparently was never Whedon's intention.

So, I'm probably just as wrong as I sit here hoping for the scene where Flying Man puts together a "costume" to hide his identity (because he's a famous public figure) and protects him from high speed impacts (because those gravel landings in bare feet can be a bitch). The rest of the characters would follow suit (no pun intended) for their own reasons. None of the characters (except maybe Hiro) would ever need to say out loud that they need costumes "because that's how it's done in the comics". It would all just make sense - because believe it or not, superhero comics have an internal logic that actually works.

Oh, well. At the very least, Heroes is paving the way for the *next* superhero TV show. Hopefully, its creators will not feel so constrained.