SDCC ’16 Cast Interview: NBC’s ‘Powerless’ “fills in the blanks of the comic books”

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NBC brought SDCC-goers a sneak peak at Powerless, a hybrid of a workplace comedy and a DC superhero show, in a special preview night screening.

The comedy involves a group of non-superpowered characters living in the DC universe and working at an insurance agency, cleverly dubbed RetCon Insurance Co. In addition to the more traditional relationships and subplots of workplace comedies, Powerless also shows its characters professionally and personally dealing with the fallout and consequences of superhero battles.

“In many ways I think that’s why I was drawn to this project – because it is a fresh take at the superhero world, but also what we’re going through on the whole with entertainment,” said Danny Pudi, best known for his role as Abed on Community. “It kind of fills in the blanks of comic books. What happens in between the battles? It’s about the real people are affected by this – what do they do?”

Featuring Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk, and Ron Funches, the show is filled with DC universe references and heroes – Crimson Fox appears in the pilot – but focuses more closely on the lower-stake consequences of living in that world. It’s also unlikely that mainstream superheroes like Batman or Superman would appear on the show, which is instead focusing on rhe residents of Charm City, described as an “underdog city” with its own set of less mainstream heroes who cause chaos for their residences.

“Surge prices for Uber during super battles – it’s a real thing,” said Hudgens. “Or the super villains breaking onto our airwaves… why can’t they deal with it privately?”

Hudgens said she was drawn to the project because she was interested in exploring comedy, citing The Office and Parks and Recreation as her favorite shows. Comedian Ron Funches was also invited to help create a character for additional episodes of the series after the pilot, and said he pitched a wide-eyed, optimistic IT guy to offset some of the more cynical characters.

“That’s the fun in it: being the Twitter remarks you’d make after watching a superhero movie,” he said.

Powerless, produced by Ben McQueen and Michael Patrick Jann, is slated for a mid-season debut on NBC.

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