“Powers” could have easily been like so many other comics optioned and developed for film and TV that ultimately went nowhere. As early as 2009, a TV series based on the comic book created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming was in development at FX. In 2011, FX produced a pilot for the series, which it later redeveloped in an effort to nail the right tone for the superhero police procedural. Ultimately, the cable network passed on “Powers,” but the show found new life elsewhere when Sony’s PlayStation Network decided to make it their first original series. Starring Sharlto Copley as Christian Walker and Susan Heyward as Deena Pilgrim, “Powers” the TV series finally debuted in March. In May, the series was renewed by PSN for a second season.
At Comic-Con International in San Diego, “Powers” creators Bendis & Oeming and new showrunner Remi Aubuchon — who replaced Charlie Huston following Season One — sat down with CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland in the world famous CBR Floating Tiki Room to discuss what viewers can expect from “Powers” in its second live-action cycle. The trio discuss how “Powers'” lengthy journey ultimately allowed it to find the right home, respond to criticism of the first season, and Bendis and Oeming tease what may be next for them beyond their ongoing “Powers” comic book and the show.
Although it took a while for the “Powers” television show to find a home, the home it found ended up very fitting for the series. “Powers” originally began as an independent comic and interestingly enough, the television series ended up on an almost independent network. Bendis said the match was completely serendipitous.
“We’d be geniuses if it was all planned but it wasn’t. But you do get a feeling sometimes that this is what it was meant to be. When we were at FX, it was a great experience but it was always like, ‘Why doesn’t this fit?’ It fits here,” Bendis said. “By the way, the difference between independent comics and little network is that the little network is millions of subscribers. Comics would kill for the little alternative network situation that PlayStation [Network] is.”
However, being on a “smaller” network does give them certain advantages. “There are certain parameters that we’re sticking to like with every television show but there’s freedom of not having a firm time in which to tell a story in a given episode,” Aubuchon said. “If an episode needs more time we give it more time. We really have no standards and practices–”
“Yeah!” interjected Bendis.
“I’ve never had standards,” added Oeming.
“So they fit in really well,” joked Aubuchon. “What’s neat about doing a show like this — which is kind of like the opposite of a superhero show — we’re in your face about saying, ‘Yeah, take that, genre! Let’s flip it around and mess with it’ — it’s a great place to be able to do that.”
The group also discussed the admittedly mixed responses to the show’s first season and how those criticisms informed what they learned and how that affected their approach to Season Two. “I think we did a lot of things right in the first season,” said Aubuchon. “Finding a way to take something as dynamic and established as ‘Powers’ and to try and translate that to a television show is not an easy task. And there are mistakes that we made but there are some really cool things that I think and some accidental things that turned out well.
I think the one big thing we learned from last season was to embrace the book a little more and that’s what we’re working on this season.” The showrunner also said that they want to take Bendis’ “in-your-face style of dialogue and embrace that more” as well as delving back into the years of mythology surrounding the series.
“I was unaware there was any criticism about the show, so that’s news to me,” joked Bendis before discussing the natural evolution of television shows in terms of quality as they progress. The writer said that while “Powers” started off rocky, once the show found its footing, it improved greatly. He cited other shows with weaker first seasons, such as “Seinfeld” and “Buffy,” that really took off in the second. “You kind of had to let them figure it out and when they found it, boom!” he explained. “As television professors, we’re happy that we’re an upswing show. That’s why we’re very excited to come flying out of the gate in the second season like ‘The West Wing’ did, like ‘Seinfeld’ did, like ‘Larry Sanders’ did.”
As for future further collaborations between Bendis and Oeming, they said they’re planning another run of “The United States of Murder Inc” at Marvel Icon in the fall and a new set of “Powers” when the second season debuts next year, as well as many other projects lined up.
“If anything we’ve over-committed our collaboration but we’re so excited that we have all these things we can do together,” Bendis said. “This 15-year journey of [the ‘Powers’ TV show], to do it with your friend and then be better friends at the end of it — you’ve sat up here when friendships have fallen apart, when partnerships have fallen apart — business and friendships are tough. But to find someone you can do this with — and we’ve had the low times and the high times — but to be next to each other for both — it’s the best part. Nothing else matters. We’re on the set together. I have a lot of friends who are building their television career or building their empire outside of comics and I’m, like, this is the best part. The friendship part.”
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