What is Marvel's new Heroes Reborn and why can't we shake this feeling of impending doom?

Sam Barsanti
·2 min read

Today, Marvel Entertainment—that’s the whole company, covering the movies, the comics, and the games—posted a curious teaser that simply had the name Heroes Reborn and “whatever happened to Earth’s mightiest heroes?” underneath. We don’t know specifically what that means, but there is one obvious implication, and based on the… oh, let’s say mixed reaction that the post is getting on Twitter, a lot of Marvel fans are coming to the same conclusion.

Heroes Reborn was previously the name of a comic book event that Marvel published in the ‘90s, and even given the divisive nature of big comic book events, it’s not remembered especially fondly. Basically, Marvel handed its most high-profile teams (The Avengers and The Fantastic Four) to two high-profile creators who had since left Marvel (Cable and Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld and future DC Comics boss Jim Lee), and gave them free rein to modernize the characters’ backstories and separate them from the convoluted histories and connections that come from the main Marvel universe. Essentially, it was an opportunity to reboot characters like Captain America, Iron Man, and The Thing for the edgy, skateboard-riding teens of 1996.

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The premise was sound, in that Marvel eventually found a more successful way to do this with Brian Michael Bendis’ beloved Ultimate Spider-Man comics, but fans weren’t thrilled with the way characters were changed and even edgy ‘90s teens had started to turn on Liefeld’s very particular art style by then, so Marvel eventually brought the FF and the Avengers back to the regular universe after revealing that Mr. Fantastic’s omnipotent son Franklin had hidden them all, including bad guys like Doctor Doom, in a secret pocket universe for safekeeping (comic books!).

Marvel’s teaser, then, seems like some kind of revival of Heroes Reborn, since it has the same name and the tagline seems to imply the same premise, but it is worth pointing out that the name Heroes Reborn can also mean a few different things now. For starters, Marvel Heroes was the name of a very good (yet under-appreciated) online action RPG that Marvel shut down in 2017, so Heroes Reborn could be the name of a reboot of the game. Also, Heroes Reborn was the name of NBC’s Heroes reboot from 2015, and while it wouldn’t make any sense for Marvel to be teasing something about that, we did want to check in and see if anyone else remembered NBC’s Heroes reboot.