Earlier this school year, after taking Professor Chris Koenig-Woodyard’s course in the Graphic Novel, I thought that I would be done talking about superheroes in a classroom setting. Walking with my girlfriend, Sarah, a fourth-year English major, we exchanged curious looks when we saw a rainbow-coloured exterior outside of the library. Little did we know that our school would play host to NBC’s reboot miniseries Heroes Reborn. Looks like I wasn’t done with superheroes after all.
What’s more humbling is that the show didn’t just make use of the library’s exterior, but the entire school. The futuristic Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex was used as Renautas headquarters in Midian, Colorado. Renautas is a global technology organization that is secretly an evil corporation with aspirations to capture and control every person with superhuman abilities.
With some clever editing, nearly every building at UTM was transformed into looking as if it were only one place. The Renautas HQ, with its interior similar to the Instructional Centre, was where a Matrix-style shootout happened. Three “heroes” fought a man and his clones. Downstairs, one of the heroes tried to gain access to the facility’s main entrance, which is actually IB 110—home to Ken Derry’s famous Introduction to the History of Religions class—without the giant lobby desk.
Using the UTM campus is an ideal, original choice for any cinematographer if they’re searching for a place that looks like it’s off the beaten track. This is why we saw Tim Kring’s, creator of Heroes, characters roam outside the HMALC and lobby and link to the CCT building. UTM does not look like any other university in the world, which is why Heroes Reborn was shot there—for its unique, seemingly cut-off-from-the-world atmosphere, where no one knows what occurs behind the vast trees that surround it.
Choosing UTM as a place to film a futuristic laboratory for superhumans is perfect because we don’t learn in buildings, but rather within works of art, like the Instructional Centre, Deerfield Hall, and the Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex.
The GTA and Toronto itself have been home to many other films, such as 2016’s Suicide Squad. But if I am going to highlight good comic adaptation films (yeah, DC Comics fans, I went there), then we can talk about Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk (2008), which saw Edward Norton as the titular green monster tear up the St. George campus in a furious rage. Toronto also saw X-Men, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Billy Madison, Hairspray, and The Love Guru—to name only a few—shot here at home. Oddly enough, all the movies featured underdogs who came out on top.
It’s too bad that the rainbow gate used in Heroes Reborn was only used for the show, because it would have made a nice addition to the school’s grounds, looking as unique as that gorgeous stone structure at the front entrance of the school. If any other shows would like to use UTM as a film or TV set, the door is open, I say. Next time, let’s hope to be included in the shots too, rather than have licensed extras roaming in the background, for we are all talented beings belonging to one of the best schools in the world.