'Powerless': What we know about the upcoming NBC superhero comedy

Forget TV shows focusing on superheroes – 'Powerless,' starring Vanessa Hudgens, centers on the ordinary people living alongside the caped crime fighters.

Chris Large/NBC/AP
'Powerless' stars Vanessa Hudgens (center), Danny Pudi (l.), and Christina Kirk (r.).

More about NBC’s upcoming superhero comedy “Powerless” was revealed at the network’s upfront presentation, in which TV network staff discuss their future shows in the presence of advertisers and the media.

“Powerless” stars Vanessa Hudgens of “Grease: Live,” “Community” actor Danny Pudi, and Alan Tudyk of “Zootopia.” The TV show takes place in the world of DC Comics characters, a group that includes such familiar heroes as Batman and Superman, but the program centers on characters who do not have superpowers but who instead are living alongside these caped heroes. 

According to a clip shown at the NBC upfront, protagonist Emily (Ms. Hudgens) works at an insurance company that is sometimes forced to grapple with the damage caused by these superheroes.

“Powerless” is set to debut in the middle of the traditional TV schedule, so it will likely air in 2017 rather than as part of the crop of new fall shows later this year.

The comedy will be the newest tongue-in-cheek take on the superhero genre. Superhero tales have come to dominate Hollywood, with Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” and Warner Bros.’s DC Comics movie “Batman v Superman” becoming two of the highest-grossing films released so far this year. 

But one has beaten them both so far to become the highest-grossing film of 2016 (though either "Captain" or "Batman" could catch up): “Deadpool,” a superhero movie that parodies the genre, with protagonist Deadpool making fourth-wall-breaking comments and referencing other superhero films (when told he’s going to see “X-Men” character Professor Xavier, he asks whether the character is being played by Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy, both of whom have taken on the role in the past).

And a slightly different take on the superhero film is also arriving this August with the Warner Bros. movie “Suicide Squad,” which is a story of the villains, not the heroes. 

Meanwhile, the insurance company setting of “Powerless” also echoes themes in Marvel’s newest hit “Captain America: Civil War,” in which the government requires superheroes to be controlled by the UN after damage from superheroes during battles against villains leads to civilian casualties.

"Powerless" is the newest twist on the genre with which many moviegoers and TV watchers have become familiar.

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