X-Men Envy Part II Major Spoilers Podcast

In this bonus episode, Rodrigo and Stephen continue their discussion on Heroes, X-Men, and what constitutes a rip-off vs. an homage.


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Music from this episode comes from Armin Brewer (intro) and James Kennison (closing) from the Nobody’s Listening Podcast. A big thanks to both of these guys for creating kick-ass music for the show!

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. The problem with Tv shows and Movies right now is that the big guys coughing up the money want stuff that already has a following. Originality is considered a risky investement, specialy when it comes to movies.

    Why do you think any and every movie/show/cartoon/comic to ever have any sort of succes is been made into a movie(or re-made into a movie), made into a show or plagiarised? Because it’s easy money and that’s what it all about.

    The best exemple of Heroes stealing from Marvel (to me at least) is the girl with “photographic reflexes”, if that’s not a rip off of Taskmaster I don’t know what is. The fact that she’s misteriouly gone from the show with no mention makes me think even they found it too obvious.

    Heroes and Fringe are both copies of relatevely old Tv shows: Mutant-X (remember that one? I’m surprised you didn’t comment on it) and the X-Files ( let’s replace the smoking man with a bald “observer” no one will notice it, I’m a genius!).

    I’m surprised neither one sued…

  2. Ricco, Rodrigo and all you other arrrrrs!

    I like Heroes, i do not consider it a Master piece of television (Dexter is though..go watch it if you haven’t) But i must defend Heroes…Its my Star Wars…A bunch of cool stuff mixed in with some utter crap…Like Star Wars…Also it has two leading characters a guy and a gal that have awkward sexually tense scenes, before they find out they are related. Oh the hilarity!

    But i must defend it because its better and more original than most people seem to give it credit for and now i shall present to you how that is in list form.

    The line between plagiarizing and tributing is made up of one simple question..Do you have a story to tell? The things you use to tell the story and make the point are NOT and i repeat NOT important.
    Eragon is for example not a LOTR rip-off and Jeremy Irons isn’t doing an impression of Gandalf and Ian McKellen but rather Obi Wan and Alec Guinness. Dressing stuff up is ripping off so if you put the X-Men in a fantasy setting ITS RIPPING OFF. If you put -new characters with new problems- in an X-Men setting but not calling them X-men its because Marvel doesn’t do TV.

    2)The X-men have been around for some time and have there for covered a bunch of issues and almost all major ones but in its core its about discrimination not throwing cars. And Heroes while they will have to resort to the exposure card sooner or later i’m thinking season 4-5 to get new material has so far not touched the issue.

    3)Instead we see new stories told with the same old powers THAT is goddamn art and not plagiarizing at all. Season one has a schizophrenic mom that’s a danger to her son and fighting inner demons…In this case literally. Is she a Hulk rip-off? ..No she is a super-imposed version of a woman with a husband in jail and financial troubles which lands her in drinking. This becomes even more obvious when we learn her dad used to beat her sister up ..because he had…a drinking problem!!!!

    4) Season three we finally see two distinct groups (Not in season 1 or 2 but three …not bad at all)
    So whats it about some old dude wanting to rule the world..OMG that’s so Magneto..Except its not about racism, fear, superiority….Its about power and the individual..An Ayn Rand book is actually an easteregg!

    5) And Mohinders fly impersonation is such an homage a whole scene ripped directly off…Smarty pants turns monster develops libido has insect like capeabilities…But after that its nothing at all like The Fly and instead they use his mutation to tell a story of wanting and a decay of moral as the characters lust for physical power and knowledge grows.

    I can keep going because despite of some clumsy writing and a lack of overview from the developers meaning a lack of quality.. The show does not lack original and new ways to tell a story.
    The use of superpowers is a trick used to superimpose issues the show deals with and because superheroes are popular..its clever really.
    And mutations are used because most other explanations to superpowers are lame and having one guy be bitten by something radioactive and another getting it in the eye is so much dumber.
    Besides they are used differently for example the characters contrary to Rodrigos statement do in fact choose their powers by getting power that reflects their Id. Beaten girls becomes powerful, ugly girl can create illusions, gangmember gets the ability to pull power (physical) from fear, office drone becomes a master of time and space, man with sick sister can heal… Its all pretty clever but really convoluted.

    And there is so much more…

  3. I don’t hate Heroes, in fact I’ve seen every episode and read every comic. The fact that I like it is why it bothers me when fans keep saying it didn’t rip off the X-Men.

    1st thing first, Eragon was written by a 10 year old so I think we can cut it some slack, and it rips off the old King Arthur myth simply replacing good old Excalibur by a dragon.

    2nd Heroes is unoriginal, not uninteresting which is why the denial hurts so much. It’s like peolple saying West Side Story was completely original and has nothing to do with Romeo & Juliet.

    3rd Every plotline Heroes writters can possibly come up with have been covered in some way or another in Marvel’s X-Men, it’s been out since the freaking 60s for Pete’s sake! Their take on the story might be original but someone has already done it before.

    Lastly, ever wonder why they’re not called mutants even thou it’s the more logical name for them?

  4. Lifesaglitch sez: Besides they are used differently for example the characters contrary to Rodrigos statement do in fact choose their powers by getting power that reflects their Id. Beaten girls becomes powerful, ugly girl can create illusions, gangmember gets the ability to pull power (physical) from fear, office drone becomes a master of time and space, man with sick sister can heal

    And I sez: And that soldier gets injected with a “super serum” and gets super powers. And because the formula is destroyed he’s the only one. It’s a good thing he’s on America’s side. I can’t remember if he was a captain though.

  5. For naming the show after the X-Men, you sure talked a lot about other stuff. ;)

    But seriously, I think it’s inevitable that when you come up with a story nowadays that somebody can narrow it down to some stereo-/archetypes, even if you tried to subvert them in any way you cold think of.
    But as Lifeisaglitch said, the story that you want to tell in that setting matters, not so much the setting itself (but if you come up with a really cool setting that grabs people’s attentions, that helps too).
    The reason why Marvel wouldn’t want to print Heroes is that they could tell all the Heroes plots in their X-Men universe if they wanted to.

  6. @Stephen he was an homage… notice how he has no plot significance but is on-stage just long enough for one to go ooooh right I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE…They even picked a guy that had almost the same role i the 4400. The deserve geek creed not critique.

    So tell me how has Angela Petrelli, HRG, Sylar, Arthur Petrelli, Nikki Sanders or Nathan Petrelli been “told” before in the X-Men …other than that they have superpowers and they come from diffferent backgrounds whats so alike? And think about this, don’t just go for the obvious archetype traits or superficial stuff….Think about what kind of stories and dilemmas they made for the characters and tell me where they pop up in the X-men comics… Even the premise of mutants having a secret organizattion with an ambigious moral standing keeping an eye on their own, waaay before exposure
    Sounds like old news…but is it?

    Did Alan Moore rip-off Blue Beetle or did he tell us a new story with Nite Owl…all im saying.

  7. @Campaigner

    As response to the last to lines…Yes (sorta they couldnt do the company storie which is sorta an important one) but they would have to make up new characters instead of making Wolverine clones.

  8. I fell like i need to clarify myself—– O__o sorry my writing are often mad scribbles.
    You seem to miss the point im clumsily making.

    Plagirizing is making money on other peoples work…Let say i was going to make a movie and i blatantly rip-off the X-Men *setting*..i still have 99 percent of my work to do on story, characters, message, interaction…I could rip-off the X-men again…but then i would get sued.
    Now ripping something off is done mostly by making up a new setting..which is easy for example a movie about giant monsters featuring a ninja that has to go inside of them and take them out..also he has a robot sidekick.. (Seems originale so far dont it)

    Then i rip-off the story and characters of Star Wars and i can have all the Ninja/Monsters scenes i want as long as i don’t call the monsters Deathstars or Walkers….Monster Wars!!!
    This is plagiarizing…The Sopranos are not ripping-off Goodfellas though.
    (see how it works, or at least how i think it works)

    At least give me examples of the ripping-off, i might have missed something you saw (You have most assuredly have read more X-men than i have)…Something that’s a part of a story or character.

    (Lastly your Kung-Fu, Zombie, Cowboy flick…is a setting not a plot..you cant really rip-off settings to much unless they are very intricate …So if you plagiraze anything its yet to be seen without a plot. Which Rodrigo movie-man didnt point out…Come on you guys, i enjoy the show but it was like you were half asleep during that discussion. :) …

    Im not complaining about the extra podcasts though, you guys top ELR for me *thumbs up*

  9. Lifesaglitch: Alan Moore didn’t rip off Blue-Beetle to tell a Nite Owl story. He originally wanted to use Blue Beetle, The Question, Captain Atom, etc, but DC wouldn’t let him, so he modified the characters. You can still tell Rorsach is The Question, Archie is the Bug, and Nite Owl is Blue Beetle. Moore even goes on record as saying as much. He makes no excuses for the similarity, because he intentionally created the series with this in mind.

    I think you are mistaking our conversation about heavily borrowing, lifting, and ripping off plot points and characters, and let’s face it the “homage” to Captain America is pretty much lifting the plot point of his origin (the WWII setting replace with the War on Terror), for use in the show, for a hatred for Heroes. Would it still be an homage if that soldier later appears wearing a red, white, and blue costume?

    There is a difference between a trope, an homage, and a rip-off – or heavily borrowed, if you want to use that phrase.

    I understand your passion for Heroes -I don’t think anyone said we hated Heroes, in fact I watch it every week, and do enjoy it. The X-Men is a team of super-heroes, but it is in no way ripping off JLA. Perhaps I’m too old, as I’m easily twice your age, but when you’ve been around long enough, the Many Deaths of Batman, Knightfall, and RIP easily appear to be the same story, just as Days of Future Past and the second season of Heroes appear to be the same story. Told differently? Perhaps. And as we pointed out in the show, there are many more people who haven’t read X-Men (which features a guy who can turn things to ice) that are watching Heroes (a girl that can turn things to ice) that makes the argument you continue to plead your case for a minor issue.

    For further discussion, since you’ve admitted you don’t know a lot about the x-men, check out this interesting comparison chart. http://www.vikkel.com/archive/2007/02/19/Heroes-vs-XMen-an-ability-comparison.aspx

    There’s another comparison here http://www.fanpop.com/spots/heroes/soapbox/827

    oh, and another comparing the characters here http://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2008/11/03/battle-royale-heroes-vs-x-men/

    If “borrowing” character traits and story lines (modified of course) to tell a x-men stories that fans want, but skirt the line between originality and lawsuit, then that is fine. But to have the creator of the show say he’s never read an x-men comic and then produces this show seems really fishy, and thus is the basis of the Interweb nets argument.

    Finally, go back and listen to this episode again (you do listen to our shows more than once, right? hehe), and you’ll see I try and take your side in the discussion, yet Rodrigo is able to bring up all the same points everyone else is making. :D


  10. Lifesaglitch: Alan Moore didn’t rip off Blue-Beetle to tell a Nite Owl story. He originally wanted to use Blue Beetle, The Question, Captain Atom, etc, but DC wouldn’t let him, so he modified the characters. You can still tell Rorsach is The Question, Archie is the Bug, and Nite Owl is Blue Beetle. Moore even goes on record as saying as much. He makes no excuses for the similarity, because he intentionally created the series with this in mind.

    As Kevin Spacey put it: WROOOONG! Rorscharc despite wearing a Fedora and a mask is not no matter Alan Moore’s original idea the same character as The Question…. Its this kind of shallow comparison that makes me well…angry actually….If they had let him use the characters it would actually have been a lesser story because he(Mr Moore) then wouldn’t have been forced to make Rorschach so messed up and interesting a character.

    Also sure they took the Captain America origin plot but did they use it as their own? ..No they did an homage and intentionally so, they even did a double homage (4400 remember?) and then they killed him because he wasn’t a part of their actual plot and they weren’t ripping Marvel off.
    (Fighting Terrorism…ummm no! Arthur needed guinea pigs so that he could make the world a libertarian paradise (The man says i am better! And read books by Ayn Rand for Gods sake) ….Funny that Arthur should be italian..Ever heard of how Cosa Nostra had its beginnings?)

    Also ..f*** the power comparison and the timetravel. X-men aren’t ripping of Batman because instead of being a badguy(Mr Freeze) Iceman is a good guy…a chick…a gay dude… a dog..a robot.
    The stories are what matter (Marvel haven’t sued Tim Kring because they know he and the writers are doing the lengthy and hard parts themselves…just set in a universe that is sort of like their own.

    The power comparison thing just shows that you aren’t getting the point (Well my point that is)
    Seriously i think people have so low expectations of Heroes they only catch a few buzz-words (Nathans speech about the middle east) and do not catch what its really about Arthur (Ron Paul voter) going all powers don’t kill people-people kill people..as opposed to Angela and HRG members of the: People need checks and balances and those checks and balances are us – the self-appointed Illuminati.

    Also i know you don’t hate heroes… I Hate Heroes!!!…The stories are convoluted, they have to do patch solutions to some of the plots, many of the characters motivations make no sense and they retcon without informing viewers… ALSO DAPHNE COULD NOT IN ANY WAY TRAVEL FORWARD IN TIME….Back in time? Sure (faster than light) but you cant stand stiller than dark or what ever logic they used!!!! But saying the show is ripping-off X-Men just seems ignorant to me.

    Also the power comparison is just plain stupid Stephen…You as a comic-book guy put to much into the super powers…I mean its like saying James Bond is ripping of the three musketeers because they have guns and knives….Fire and Ice…. Ripping-off is stealing the work somebody did, not the chisel and and the same kind of marble.

  11. I don’t think we disagree. I just think we define ripping-off differently.. So why cant you define it right like i do :D

  12. “But saying the show is ripping-off X-Men just seems ignorant to me.”

    To you of course, but to the thousands of others out there who have made the same connection, not so much.

    Ripping-off is not stealing, a rip-off (by definition) is an inferior imitation of something, which Heroes most definitely is.

    Let’s not argue semantics. You have your views, and the rest of us have ours. You aren’t going to change my mind, and given another 18 years, you’ll be that cranky man on the porch too.

  13. X-Men “Age of Apocalypse”: the catastrophic futur in Heroes, X-Men “Weapon-X”: Heroes Pinehearst (ran by mutants in this version), Bishop’s futur mutant police force : Heroes company ( in the present), X-Men “decimation”: Heroes second Eclipse, X-Men “Mutant Growth Hormone”: Heroes formula, the list goes on and on…

    The fact is that if you’ve been reading X-Men (and the other X-People comics) long enough not a single plot-line feel a 100% original because in one way or another it’s already been done there.

  14. Its not an imitation (True Blood is though) X-Men is about discrimination at its core and has the whole people vs muties thing going. (True blood is like that with vamps..hey and it has that paquii…rogue chick in it)

    Heroes is about controle of power. And the majority of the work cannot be compared to X-men at all. “Normal people” with theme based super powers are not something Marvel has a patent on. Because its a tiny thing in the bigger picture, mutant/people relations are though and they havent come in to play at all in heroes..Unless you count one online comic (The killsquad)

    Also too me ripping-off DOES mean stealing and earning on something somebody else worked hard on not just something that been done before better ..If that was the point we should maybe be discussing Heroes VS the story of Prometheus…And to tell you the truth i think Sylar is so much more kick-ass than the Olympian gods :D

    ”In conclusion:
    Heroes rips on other stuff, super powers are a superficial story element, and what this is about is people seeing the words super powers and genetics appear beside each other, not something that you can actually rip-off like a plot or a specific characters and character interactions.. ”

    :D thanks for rant-racing me Stephen..

  15. It doesn’t need to be a willfull imititation to feel as such. I’m just saying that if it has mutants it’s all been done before in Mavel at one point or another.

    I’m curious to know what you think of Mutant-X (Tv show almost identical to X-Men but with the etive spin used in Heroes).

    Mutant-X is pretty much the bridge between X-Men and Heroes.

  16. Ricco: I think I only saw one half of one segment of one episode (roughly 5 minutes) of Mutant-X, but isn’t that supposed to be a Marvel approved X-Men show? That kind of defeats the ripping-off from the X-Men argument. From the series premise overview I just read, it does appear you are correct about the bridge between the two shows.

  17. I’m just saying that a stronger argument could be made that Heroes is a better version of Mutant-X, which is a crappy version of X-Men itself. So it’s a rip off at the second degree ;-)

    Yeah the show was pretty bad, still saw a few episodes I remember they had a plot about the “powers killing their users” like they did in Heroes.

  18. @Ricco

    “Mutant Growth Hormone”: Heroes formula, the list goes on and on…
    Once again..classical plot thing and but while its like a drug(steroid) thing in the Marvel U, its totally a way for the Heroes creators to talk about weapons…I almost laughed out loud when Nathan talked about giving powers to the right people in the middleeast…As you know Taliban and Saddams regime both got weapons from the US to fight bigger bads (The soviets and Iran)..and who is at war now?… Just their way of adressing stuff like that.

    X-Men “Age of Apocalypse”: the catastrophic futur in Heroes, X-Men
    …Its your kids Marty …Sure something bad happening in the future … But the only solid link is once again the words superhero and genetics appearing beside eachother…Season 1 is actually a Watchmen rip-off They even do the clock of doom thing. One episode is called 7 minutes to midnight,

    “Weapon-X”: Heroes Pinehearst (ran by mutants in this version),
    Secret organisation…once again you see the connection because ..superhero and genetics… Pinehearst is a completely different animal and the writers didnt read too much Wolverine here but they might have played too much Bioshock….Ahhh

    Bishop’s futur mutant police force : Heroes company ( in the present),
    Now thats better, though once again normal people (and sentinel) and mutant relations dont play in so its like comparing Harry Potter to The Bartimaeus trilogy…But yup mutants policing mutants not new and is something Marvel invented…Still though i would argue the company is a better version in this case.

    X-Men “decimation”: Heroes second Eclipse, X-Men
    Yeah definite rip-of. But even if X-Men didnt exist you know the whole loosing powers thing would come at some point in Heroes. Sort of like exposure…But its like embeded in our reptile brain to write stories like that :D

    I see that Heroes couldnt have existed without the X-Men (Suits want something tested) but i refuse to acknowledge it is the biggest source of inspiration (plot or message wise). If only DC had existed and somebody had to import superheroes into TV lnd to a “modern” audience something X-men-like would appear naturally. They may have picthed it X-men meets Bring it on, The Godfaher, Star Wars and Pokemon (You know Hiro is Japanese and Sylars gotta cathc em all)…But thats not how they are writing it.

    And i leave you with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ACW-ovub-E

  19. @Rico

    A boy who grew up without his dad meets an elderly professor… Oak..i mean Suresh he then sets out on a quest to become the strongest of his kind…Also he has a weird relationship with an electricity emiting being…They are so ripping off Pokemon!!!…I mean they even have Tracy and Daphne mention Pokemon. XD

  20. Peter must then be Gary..though Mohinder is the one related to Doctor Suresh hmmm
    Arthur Petrelli is totally Giovanni though.

  21. Hiro uses katana on Sylar its critical hit.

    HRG uses gun on Sylar. It has no effect.

    Lyle uses water on Elle ITS SUPER EFFECTIVE!

    Nathan Used Fly

    Sylar Used Cut

    Peter used Explosion

    Angela uses foresight

    Daphne uses quick attack

    Oooh we could keep going all day couldnt we..

  22. Talking about Pokemon, how long before the fat cats run out of old shows/comics to copy and make a live actions of Pokemon? I’de say 2 years, 3 tops.

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