'Powerless' Creator Talks DC Comics Easter Eggs And Superhero Collateral Damage [Comic-Con 2016]

NBC screened their midseason DC Comics comedy Powerless at Comic-Con. The workplace comedy is set in an insurance company that handles claims for superhero-related destruction. In a roundtable at Comic-Con, series creator Ben Queen told /Film that this was not inspired by the backlash against Man of Steel's collateral damage.

"No, but I will say superhero movies and TV shows now are so serious, and that's a good thing," Queen said. "The idea of what it would be like to live in that world and be a normal person without powers. Frankly, how you get to work in the morning when you're dealing with super-related craziness like a tidal wave from Aquaman, just the aggravation of that seemed like a funny thing to explore." 

The show will be full of references that diehard comic book readers will appreciate, but of course on a broadcast network it will be accessible to casual viewers too. "When we reference a character or an event, we want it to be something that people relate to and laugh at," Queen said. "I will say, in every episode of the show that we've been breaking, there are obscure Easter Eggs for DC and comic book fans, the sort of things that I would want to see if I watched the show. DC has been awesome about that. The pilot is filled with stuff like Big Belly Burger to Lex Luthor's autobiography to beautiful Alex Ross drawings that double as photographs on the cover of Rolling Stone. The characters Marvin and Wendy who are the twins in the office, played by Kate Miccucci and Josh Fadem, those are inspired by the Super Friends cartoon in the '70s."

DC has had great success on television with Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. They were immediately open to Queen's pitch. "I had a general meeting with DC Comics to talk about things to do," Queen said. "In the meeting I said, 'Have you guys thought about a workplace comedy?' They said, 'No, that sounds good.' It was as easy as that."

So far, at least inasmuch as Queen has pitched, nothing is off-limits in the DC universe. "They pretty much have opened up the candy store for us in terms of what we can reference, what we can do," Queen said. "But we purposely did not set it in Metropolis. We created our own city. It sort of helps that outsider quality to the show. Within the city, we're using, let's just call them less recognizable superheroes within the city, but that doesn't mean they don't deal with Green Lantern-related insurance claims that you hear about."

The emphasis of the show will always be first and foremost on comedy. "I want the show to be super hard funny and then character," Queen said. "The comic book stuff was secondary because I know that and we have a couple people that can bring that. It was really just about delivering a good workplace comedy."

Powerless premieres next year on NBC.