At San Diego Comic-Con Friday, NBC debuted the pilot episode of Powerless, the new half-hour comedy set in the DC Universe. Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pudi, and Alan Tudyk, the show focuses on an insurance agency that protects people against the damage caused by superhero fights.
Things are going well at Retcon Insurance until the boss is killed by falling debris and his replacement is a spoiled CEO’s son, played with a gleeful mix of menace and ignorance by Tudyk.
The characters in Powerless’ world are all a little fed up with their lives being interrupted by superhero activity on a daily basis, and it all comes to a head when Hudgen’s character Emily Locke asks local superhero Crimson Fox to set their metro car back on the track instead of on the ground so they can all get to work on time. Crimson Fox instead throws them on top of a car, though the other riders in the train applaud Emily’s willingness to stand up to being background characters in their own lives.
The pilot is quite funny, with jokes about Aquaman’s sexual prowess, whether or not death by Wonder Woman qualifies as an “act of God”, and whether or not that one guy in the office is actually the Green Lantern in disguise.
The show’s premise can be summed up in one line by Emily, given in the office after an argument with new boss Dell Heller:
“Folks with powers, it’s their world, we just live in it. That doesn’t mean we have to like it now, does it?”
After the screening of the pilot, the cast and creators took some time to talk about the show with fans assembled at the SDCC panel.
“(Powerless) takes place in its own little part of the DC universe. It’s not the Arrowverse or anything, but it’s the DC Universe. Charm City is like heretofore unseen city in the DC universe, that’s another way of saying it’s brand new. We have our own heroes, Crimson Fox, Jack o Lantern. We love that we’re kind of an underdog city in the DCU,” explained showrunner Ben Queen.
Hudgens was thrilled to be on board, despite the fact that comedy is not her foremost talent.
“It’s really cool. I feel like such an underdog because everyone here is so funny. I feel so blessed to be a part of something when I’m surrounded by such amazing people to work with. I can’t wait to see where the show goes.”
“I think there’s a couple differences here (between Abed and Teddy). One, there is a moment in the episode where Teddy doesn’t know what to say because I think Abed would have had something to say at any moment. It’s nice to play a character closer to my intelligence level. He’s much more normal,” Pudi said. “He’s where I’m at in my life because I’ve got kids I’m trying to raise them and I don’t know what I’m doing. He’s also searching for Batman, just like everybody else.”
Alan Tudyk also waxed poetic a bit about playing the villain, and how his character isn’t a “douche”, but rather a “tool”.
“He’s an idiot, he’s come to be a boss and doesn’t know how to boss. he has ideas about being a boss, obviously,” Tudyk said. “He doesn’t understand social norms it seems like, he doesn’t understand boundaries.”
The characters got plenty of chances to shine in the pilot and will hit TV mid-season on NBC.