Set in the DC Comics universe, Powerless is a workplace comedy set at Wayne Security, run by Van Wayne, dim-bulb cousin of billionaire crimefighter Bruce Wayne. Van is angling for a job closer to Bruce at mothership company Wayne Enterprises in Gotham. EP Justin Halpern likened it to the Rockefellers and all the hangers-on relatives they’d employed, or how “You’ve got Trump and then you’ve got the idiot sons.”

“Is that a secret?” he asked, when some onstage gasped, as did some TV critics in the hall.

Powerless - Season Pilot
NBC

“He’s a fun character to play,” enthused Alan Tudyk, who plays Van on the NBC series premiering February 2. “He’s kind of happy in his own ignorance. He’s blithely stupid. … I look forward to playing him as long as I can.”

One TV critic noted that DC Comics is known for being “rather aggressively humorless” and wondered if, when it came pedal-to-the-metal time, execs would let the show laugh at that universe.

“Usually very, very protective of their characters, and for good reason,” Halpern acknowledged. “A lot of people have invested a lot in these characters. We ask for as much as we can get.”Among the challenges is the quantity of red tape created by the “[Greg] Berlanti-verse” on “another network” (the CW).

He predicted optimistically that the show would be afforded more freedom over time but acknowledged, “The lesson I’ve learned it to ask for everything – or, just go with it and get a laugh at the table read and then they’re stuck.”