There is no denying that superheroes have taken over television and film in the past few years, and they show no sign of slowing down any time soon. Television has been especially grateful giving us some really “super” shows, including Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Gotham.
But early next year, NBC is getting back into the superhero game with a new take on the superhero genre with Powerless. The show focuses not on the heroes but the ordinary people that live in this superhero world. Oh, and it’s DC Comics’ first comedy. And it’s so, so, so good. Trust us.
We sat down with the Powerless cast at San Diego Comic-Con where we got some scoop about what we can expect from DC Comics’ first comedy, including the “after” the hero saves the day, its usage of DC characters, and the focus on the ordinary people of this world.
Here are five things we learned about Powerless from our Comic-Con interviews:
1. Powerless Tells the Story of the “After” the Hero Saves the Day
There is no shortage of superheroes on television, from The CW’s line-up of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow to FOX’s Gotham. But those shows all share one common thing: they focus on the extraordinary heroes. NBC’s Powerless brings something new to the table.
The story doesn’t end after the hero saves the day. With Powerless the story is just beginning.
“What happens afterwards?” Vanessa Hudgens asked of when the hero saves the day. “What is the aftermath of that? That’s what we get to explore. We get to be the people living in the world of superheroes and villains picking up after them and trying to find our own strength as a person living in this world of people who are bigger than life.”
2. Powerless Shifts the Focus from the Heroes to the Ordinary People
Typically when audiences tune into a superhero show they’re tuning in for the superheroes that occupy it. But with Powerless, the focus shifts from the heroes to the ordinary people.
That’s evident from the pilot’s opening action sequence where the point of view depicts the change from hero to citizen.
“The visual conceit of it is — as opposed to Flash or Arrow or something like that, where it’s a show about putting you in the costume with the superhero,” director and EP Michael Patrick Jann said. “It’s like having the experience and being the superhero. This is standing on the sidewalk and watching it go over you…It gives it a sort of different feeling. It puts you, the viewer, on the ground with the regular people, whoa re really the stars of our show.”
3. Powerless Has A Ton of Reign With DC Comics References
While Powerless is a comedy it still lives in the world of DC Comics, which means that there are going to be references to and cameos by certain DC heroes. While you’re certainly hear references to the big-name heroes (like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern) there will also be appearances by some of the lesser-known heroes like Crimson Fox, who appears in the pilot.
“They were very encouraging,” executive producer Ben Queen said of DC Comics. “They’ve opened up the candy store in terms of what we can reference, what we can do.”
While the show is able to reference certain names like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, the show purposely is choosing to exist somewhere outside those famous DC cities so it can allow lesser-known heroes to take center stage.
“We purposely didn’t set it in Metropolis,” Queen continued. “We created our own city so that we could kind of — it helps that outsider quality to the show. Within this city we’re using less-recognizable heroes. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get Green Lantern-related insurance claims.”
4. These Ordinary People Are Heroes in Their Own Right
Usually it’s the superheroes that bring the “super” to these shows, but on Powerless the unknown heroes are the ordinary people that occupy this super world.
While most superheroes possess super abilities or super skill, the ordinary people of this world show that they have superpowers of their own. And it’s Vanessa Hudgens’ character Emily that inspires those around her.
“[My character Teddy] is excited about what happens with Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) when she stands up for herself in the office,” Danny Pudi said. “In the whole it inspires him to sort of be like, ‘What else can I do?’ I’ve got to do these things to help out.”
5. There Will Be Obscure DC Comics Easter Eggs in Every Episode
When it comes to comic book television shows, one of the things that fans will often notice are Easter Eggs scattered through an episode. Whether it’s references to a hero or a place that comic fans will recognize that a typical viewer might not. That’s true for shows like Arrow and The Flash, and it’s also true for Powerless.
“When we reference a character or event, we want it to be something that people relate to or laugh at,” Queen said. “But also in every episode of the show we’ve been breaking, there are obscure Easter Eggs for DC and comic book fans. The sort of things I’d like to see if I were watching the show. DC has been awesome about that.”
Watch our interviews below with Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pudi, Ron Funches, and executive producers Ben Queen and Michael Patrick Jann:
Powerless premieres midseason on NBC.