The road from comic book to television has been both long and public for Brian Michael Bendis
and Michael Avon Oeming
's super-powered crime series Powers
, which has been in development for cable network FX for almost four years now. Despite a failed pilot, however, that road thankfully remains ongoing, with the network's president once again affirming his faith in the concept and the likelihood that it will one day make it to air.
A pilot - scripted by former writer for AMC's The Walking Dead
, Charles Eglee - for the show was actually shot in 2011, but it didn't make the cut for network executives, who ordered reshoots and a reworking of the series as a result. The network also ordered additional scripts, to get an idea of what the show would be like after that problematic first episode, and according to FX president John Landgraf, it was those additional scripts that led to the beginning of the next incarnation of the show. Talking to IGN
at the Television Critics Association press tour, Landgraf explained,
[W]e had a pilot plus three scripts, and we decided between the pilot and the scripts that it wasn't quite the series that we needed it to be. When I say we, by the way, Brian Bendis is involved in every phase of this conversation and discussion. But one of the scripts was written by this guy named Charlie Huston, and he was a novelist. Both I and Brian and others thought, "Wow, there is actually something in the tone of this." So Charlie was approached, I think by Brian, and said, "Look, would you be interested in taking on Powers?" And Charlie said, "Well, I've never actually adapted anything before in my life. I have only written novels and stuff of my own, but Powers is my favorite graphic novel, and yes!"
So what ended up happening was we reconstituted the whole thing around Charlie as the creator, with Brian. Charlie went up to Seattle, and they sat down and they talked, and read through all the books, and they came back with a new vision, basically. Essentially, a new pilot to begin with, which is a new, different story than the pilot that we shot. So that pilot is officially gone and dead, and the actors are all gone, but we're developing a whole new pilot from scratch.
An established crime novelist (and creator of both the Henry Thompson
and Joe Pitt
series), Huston may be better known to comic book fans as the writer for recent Marvel titles Moon Knight
and Wolverine: The Best There Is
. That cross-genre background may be exactly what makes him the man to bring the right stuff to the new Powers
TV pilot, with Landgraf telling IGN that what the network is looking for from the show is definitely not a faithful adaptation of the comic, nor a weekly version of Marvel's superhero movies:
What it's always come down to for me is I know the underlying material is absolutely great. I know Brian has a vision, and Michael [Avon Oeming], but I feel like there have been so many great adaptations of graphic novels done that we have to add something. I would argue that what [Robert] Kirkman and his collaborators have done at Walking Dead has brought something to the table that didn't exist before and that movies weren't doing. I feel like we have to bring something to the table that doesn't exist. Television adaptations of graphic novels, for the most part, have been the pretty good food you'll take when really good food isn't available, you know what I mean? For me, I'm not going to take second fiddle to Marvel or anybody. I'm not going to be able to make a $200 million negative, and I think that Marvel has done a great job at what they do, and they've created a template that really works, so I'm not going to imitate that. I want to make something else with Brian and Charlie and others that's just as good but different, and trades on the particular strengths that television has in terms of what it can do. And if we can get Powers to that level, I'll make another pilot, and I'll put it on the air. But I'm not going to put anything less than an absolutely great version of Powers on the air. That's like remaking a great film into a good film, and I don't want to do that.
Given the history of the development of the show, it's a testament to the strength of the source material that FX has stuck with it for so long, and remains convinced that it can be made to work eventually despite all of the bumps in the road to date. If and when the show ever makes it to the air, fans definitely won't be able to say that the network didn't give it the support it deserved.