At this point, the world has witnessed countless films and TV shows dedicated to chronicling the lives and crusades of super-powered beings. Of course, what makes superheroes and villains special is that there aren’t that many of them, even in the exaggerated realms they inhabit. To that end, one wonders what exactly the rest of humanity occupies their time with when not dodging the chaos caused by the latest prizefight between extraordinary entities like Superman and Doomsday. Aiming to answer that very question is Powerless, a new workplace sitcom set within the DC Comics universe.
Officially ordered to pilot last month by NBC, Powerless centers on one of the most unsuccessful insurance companies in America, and shines a spotlight on the daily trials and tribulations of its employees. The inaugural addition to the series’ regular cast was Vanessa Hudgens (Sucker Punch), who is set to portray altruistic claims adjuster Emily Locke. While Hudgens isn’t exactly a big name among the comic community, her casting suggests an attempt by NBC to court an audience beyond those who would normally be inclined to check out a TV series based on a DC property.
Thankfully, three more names have now joined the Powerless cast, and two of them arguably possess more in the way of geek cred. First up is Danny Pudi, best known for the role of pop-culture savant Abed Nadir on the cult comedy Community. Pudi will play Teddy, Emily’s best friend and the resident office prankster. Teddy sees it as his duty to make his terminally serious workplace just a little bit more fun.
Next on the casting docket is Alan Tudyk, perhaps still most remembered for his work on the short-lived Joss Whedon dramas Firefly and Dollhouse. Tudyk will play Del, a spoiled rich brat who has used his connections to cheat his way up the corporate ladder. Del has just been named Emily and Teddy’s new boss, and to say he is unpopular with those beneath him would be putting it mildly. Interestingly enough, Tudyk has some experience with DC already, having done voice work for several of their animated outings. Lastly, actress Christina Kirk (A to Z, Manhattan) will play Jackie, an in-universe fan of superheroes who finds herself cracking under the pressure of being Del’s assistant.
Powerless is something of a risky bet for DC, in that the idea of setting a TV series in a fantastical comic book world while focusing on average everyday characters is not exactly one that has been heavily tested. Sure, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. draws viewers while not starring the likes of Thor and Iron Man, but its human leads are still special agents in their own right. Will the masses be intrigued enough to tune into a show about insurance adjusters that just happen to exist in the same world as Batman? If not, Constantine may end up with a new roommate in the graveyard of failed NBC attempts to bring DC to life.
Powerless has received a pilot order from NBC, but has yet to begin production.