FX Boss Sees Powers as Chance to Do Serious, Gritty Take on Superhero Drama

FX hopes to do something different — something dark and The Shield-like gritty — with its live-action adaptation of Powers, which is currently in the pilot stage.

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“Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, who created Powers -– which is a very well-regarded, Eisner award-winning graphic novel -– view it as a story more in the model of David Fincher’s Seven, or Zodiac, or [FX’s own] The Shield,” FX president John Landgraf shared at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Saturday morning. “It’s a really gritty, edgy, very real, very dark cop show that also happens to have superhero elements in it — but they’re not front-and-center. They’re around the margins, in the back of it.”

Powers follows two detectives, Christian Walker (played by Sleeper‘s Jason Patric) and Deena Pilgrim (Lucy Punch, The Class), who are tasked with investigating homicide cases involving people with superpowers. The pilot cast also includes Alona Tal (Veronica Mars) and Carly Foulkes (aka the T-Mobile pitchgirl).

The Walker character, Landgraf points out, “has a really fascinating, kind of epic, emotional journey, so what we saw is the possibility to do an interesting, different take on the cop show. It’s pretty hard to top The Shield or match that… because the bar is really high. But [we asked ourselves], ‘Is there the emotional weight to tell a seven-season story?’ And we think that with Powers there is.”

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Although the Powers pilot — written by Charles H. Eglee (The Shield, Dark Angel) and directed by Michael Dinner (Justified, Sons of Anarchy) — won’t be finished for another five weeks or so, Landgraf has seen dailies. If ordered to series (a decision will be made in two to three months), he believes it could take the small-screen superhero concept to new, dramatic heights.

“The superhero genre is ripe for reinvention,” Landgraf posits. “Everything television has ever done in that genre is the equivalent of an 8 or a 9 o’clock show -– light, breezy, special effects-oriented. I’m not saying that Powers isn’t fun, but it aspires to be a serious drama, and it’s fascinating to me to try to reshape and reinvent familiar genres.”