DC Comics really didn’t want you to know that it not only was expanding its offerings to NBC, but it was doing it in the form of a comedy.
But one new showrunner later, that’s all changed. And when Powerless premieres next month, while you won’t see any actual superheroes. You’re going to know that you’re watching something that could’ve come straight from the comic book.
The cast and crew of Powerless talked to reporters during the recent Television Critics Association tour, revealing the show has made major changes to its overall premise – including making one of its star, Firefly‘s Alan Tudyk, a member of the Wayne family.
And yes, we’re talking about the Batman Wayne family. Well, a distant cousin.
Changes were made to the overall story after Ben Queen left the series in the fall, and was replaced by Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker.
If Halpern’s name sounds distantly familiar, it should. His “Shit My Dad Says” Twitter feed that has nearly 2.9 million followers.
Halpern tried to develop the Twitter concept into a CBS sitcom called $#*! My Dad Says starring William Shatner, but it lasted just a single season.
Since then, Halpern has continued to work in television, primarily on comedies like Cougar Town and Surviving Jack. He more recently spent a 10-episode stint on The CW’s iZombie as a consulting producer, writing the 2015 episode “Abra Cadaver.”
But now NBC and Warner Bros. Television has put him and regular collaborator Schumacker in charge of Powerless, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, expectations are quite high, Schumacker says.
That meant not only changing some of the characters, but the locale as well. Gone was the insurance company originally planned for its The Office-like setting. Instead, it became part of Wayne Enterprises.
“About 15 weeks into this, we decided that the insurance company angle wasn’t really generating the type of stories that we wanted to be telling.”
“It came about because there’s obviously a lot of recognition with the Wayne name. It is ultimately Bruce Wayne’s company.”
Wayne Security is a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises, and it’s a place where Tudyk’s Van Wayne will be in charge.
Yet, that’s where the connections to the comics world will end. While there might be some name-dropping here and there, the concept behind Powerless is to have a series in the superhero world where people are far from it. In fact, the series takes place in Charm City, and exists outside the current DC universe.
Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the films are their own thing, and NBC likely was not too interested in having crossovers with a rival network like The CW where other DC shows like The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl exist.
Instead, Schumacker says he has much better resource material to consult.
“The idea is that we’re going to pull from the whole canon of the comics. It really is the comics we’re pulling from. We really want to show as much of the berth of the DC universe as possible.”
Powerless stars Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame as research and development director Emily Locke. She’s joined by Danny Pudi from another popular NBC series Community as well as Love Is Strange‘s Christina Kirk.
The series, of course, shouldn’t be confused with the limited comic book series Powerless that was published nearly a decade ago. Because, well, it was published by Marvel and has a completely different premise.
Will Powerless find a niche in an already crowded comic book television series market? NBC is about to find out when the show premieres Feb. 2.
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