NBC's phenom hit Heroes, the X-Men comic books, and the USA scifi series The 4400 all feature heroic mutants. These super-powered humans have been born with "mutant genes," or they've had some tinkering at the genetic level. But we still see the same powers cropping up again and again. Since the X-Men were first published in 1963, they've got the jump on the two television shows. Are Heroes and The 4400 just ripping off their powers? Let's find out with a look at five mutant abilities that these stories share.
Telekinesis: This power is the most common among the three. While the X-Men had "Marvel Girl" Jean Grey who could move things just by thinking about them, The 4400 have Richard Tyler and his mega-powered daughter Isabelle, both of whom share telekinesis. Of course, the first ability that Sylar ever took from anyone on Heroes was also telekinesss, which he put to extreme use by opening up people's brain cavities.
Healing: Woverine's enviable healing ability has spawned numerous knockoffs, including both Claire and Takezo Kensei on Heroes. On The 4400, Shawn can't heal himself, but he does have the ability to heal others, and in a clever twist he can reverse this ability and injure others as well. While it doesn't have the instant pizazz that Wolverine and Claire get when they grow their own face back, it's a nice adaptation of that ability.
Telepathy: The ability to read minds and project thoughts has long been a mainstay in the X-Men books, and The 4400 seem to have most of their powers stem from the mind. Last year police officer Matt Parkman on Heroes was the only person who could read minds, but this season he seems to be able to project his thoughts outwards to others as well. Isabelle on The 4400 is something of a wunderkind among the 4400, and counts telepathy as just one of her many abilities.
Precognition: The ability to tell the future always seems to be popular, but it also always seems to come with a price. On Heroes, Isaac Mendez could paint visions of the future, but he couldn't escape his own death at Sylar's hand, which he had painted previously. The 4400's young Maia can see visions of the future, which she records in diaries. This is similar to the X-Men character called Destiny who also recorded her visions in diaries. Although she is now dead, her diaries were one of the main plot points of the 2001 — 2004 series "Xtreme X-Men."
Creating illusions: Creating illusions and different realities for people happens in the X-Men with Psylocke, Candice does it on Heroes (until Sylar bashes her head in) as does Matt's father, and Alana on The 4400shares this trait. Matt's father can actually trap people in that reality, leaving their body in a comatose state, making him particularly nasty.
Until Claire pops some claws out of her hands, or Isabelle starts calling herself Marvel Girl, we'll consider them more as loving tributes instead of a direct knockoff. Although The 4400 needs to stir things up a bit and start handing out some alternate powers. Heroes has them beat in that area, with new powers popping up every week. Of course, with Heroes' "Volume Two" wrapping up very soon, we'll see who survives the cut.