I’m sure this has been done to death elsewhere, but what the heck. It hasn’t been done by me. Now that there have been three X-Men movies, with a slew of prequels on the way, and now that the second season of Heroes is very done, I think we can step back and assess.
(*I rely both on the X-Men movies and on my reading in late 1980s/early 1990s of The Uncanny X-Men, issues #201-301; I ignore the recent Heroes spin-off comic.)
Which is better, the X-Men or the t.v. show Heroes? Let me count the reasons.
In the X-Men‘s favor: they were first, they have solid leadership (especially under Professor X), Magneto is a compelling villian, Wolverine captures better than any other the wild side of the male soul, Storm makes a solid heir to the Professor’s throne and makes Hallie Berry look like a decent actress again, and only this franchise could pull together Patrick Stewark vs. Ian McKellan.
In Heroes‘s favor: Noah Bennett might be the most-bad-ass-dad of all time, the show has brought non-initiates (i.e., non-nerds) to the superhero table, the first season was amazing, Hiro Nakamura is like the best-Japanese-friend I never had, and the show is just plain fun.
To the X-Men’s discredit: the third movie was terrible, the uniforms are silly, and — maybe it’s the school — but teen angst keeps peeing on my fun-fire.
To Heroes‘s discredit: Peter Petrelli is a dumb-ass many times over, Mohinder Suresh waffles more than a bad senator, the little girl (what’s her name?) is creepy, Alejandro, and — let’s face it — much of the cast is very annoying much of the time, when you stop to think about it. Claire! Monica! Nathan! Can’t y’all get your act together? Plus, the second season was only so-so.
What they have in common: a grasp of moral ambiguity, the importance of teamwork, and of “family” in all its forms. Oh yeah, and good and evil mutants with superpowers.
The Verdict: More heroes = more fun. I’m glad we have both franchises, but, at the end of the day, I’m happy saying that Stan Lee is a genius. Kring has yet to prove himself. Go X-Men.