Superheroes are living large. This month, we saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theaters as well as the release of season two of Netflix’s Daredevil. That’s in addition to a long list of blockbuster comic book movies and shows that include Deadpool and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War.
Soon, a different kind of comic book show will be making a return. Powers, based on a comic book series of the same name, is the first original-scripted show produced exclusively for the PlayStation Network, and takes place in a world where certain individuals (referred to as Powers) have fantastic abilities like super strength and invulnerability. They gain fame and become huge celebrities, but don’t necessarily develop a moral compass. The Los Angeles Powers Division is a police force comprised of normal (un-powered) human beings who specialize in superhuman crimes, but some must deal with deep flaws of their own. Especially the lead character, Christian Walker (Sharlto Copely; District 9, Hardcore Henry), who was once a superhero but lost his powers.
The show premiered last year with its first episode available for free on YouTube, but the rest of the season was broadcast over the PlayStation Network, and could be watched on a PlayStation 3 or 4 (with a PlayStation Plus subscription) or computer with a season pass purchase. The entire first season of this dark and mature-themed show is now available for viewing online through the PlayStation Store and Crackle–a streaming service, similar to Hulu, that’s a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment. It will ready audiences for the action-packed premiere of season two on May 31.
John Koller, vice president of platforms marketing at PlayStation, talked to [a]listdaily about what viewers can look forward to in the second season, and what happens when great power doesn’t always come with great responsibility.
How was Powers chosen as PlayStation Network’s first scripted original series?
We evaluated several scripts before deciding on Powers, but felt that the comic book tie-in was a natural fit for our audience. Since games are at the core of everything we do, it’s important for all of our content to be gaming-inspired and relevant to PlayStation fans.
What has the general response been to the first season of Powers?
Excitement about the series and its creator–famed Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis–helped make Powers the most successful show ever on PlayStation Network (PSN), outperforming all other current-run shows and reruns available on PSN.
What are some of the challenges in promoting a series that’s exclusive to the PlayStation Network?
The primary challenge we initially faced was how to broaden viewership, while also giving something special and unique to PlayStation Plus members. We feel our Plus members are a priority, so we created the first exclusive window for them. We then solved the broader viewership challenge by launching the first episode on sites across the web, including YouTube and IGN, to allow the non-Plus members a taste of PlayStation original content. This effectively broadened viewership to a range of Plus and non-Plus members.
How important is a scripted series like Powers to growing the PlayStation console and PlayStation Network’s audience?
Fundamentally, PlayStation is a company driven by great narratives and fantastic storytelling. Powers fits perfectly into the PlayStation brand, helping solidify our position in the market as the best place to play. We know the PlayStation brand is a big part of why PS4 has been so successful, and the best way to continue this momentum is through authentic, rich, content and experiences.
There are some very popular superhero-themed shows on both television and streaming. What do you think makes superhero shows so attractive, and how does Powers stand out?
We’re really in the midst of a superhero resurgence, which is great news for those of us who grew up with favorite shows like Justice League and Super Friends. What makes today’s shows unique is that most of them tackle current day and relatable issues, which brings the idea of a superhero world closer to home. The Powers story establishes early on that a large range of superheroes live amongst us, but it questions how we all coexist. In the Powers world, not all superheroes are for good or for evil–some are just for themselves and their own self-interest. It’s a very mature view of culture, making viewers question how they would respond if they lived in this dynamic world.
The first season of Powers released as weekly scheduled episodes. Has any thought been given to releasing an entire season at once, the way Netflix and others do?
We wrestled with this decision because there are good outcomes that can come from both approaches. Ultimately, we decided the upside of people talking about and advocating to friends about the latest Powers episode between show drops outweighed giving the viewer every episode all at once. We continue to build equity in Powers and we believe that scheduled episode releases helps build this momentum.
What lessons were learned from season one that will be applied to the next season?
We learned quite a bit. The production teams and executives at Sony Pictures TV are incredibly talented and have been through many show launches–such as Blacklist, Breaking Bad and Preacher–so they have a real sense for good writing and overall talent. We learned–with their direction–that good writers are the key to a great production. Investing heavily in top script writers was the first big decision we made entering season two, and it will be noticed immediately by viewers.
This season has so many intense twists and turns that will really leave the viewer wanting more. We also learned the value of continuity at the showrunner level, which is why we brought back Remi Aubuchon, one of Hollywood’s best executive producers, and gave him the reigns to shape Powers along with creator Brian Michael Bendis’ vision. I can’t wait for viewers to watch.
How did Tricia Helfer and Enrico Colantoni become involved with Powers?
Both Tricia and Enrico are well known in the gamer community for their work on hit shows, and we all believed that involving them with critical roles in Powers would bring both great acting talent and broad appeal to the show. Tricia plays Agent Lange, an ex-love interest to detective Walker, who plays a hardened FBI agent in charge, and who has, let’s say–unique powers. Enrico plays senator Bailey Brown, who used to be a Power named Cobalt Knight. I think viewers are going to love what both Tricia and Enrico bring to the cast.
Any hints on what else fans can expect from season two?
Bendis has created Powers to challenge many of our beliefs, one of which is: What if those without powers could wield as much power as those who do? The story is intricate, dynamic and is well produced. This season will be really special.