NBC’s “Powerless” premiered Feb. 2, and it’s based on the same DC Comics universe as TV shows like “Arrow” and movies like “Batman v Superman.” It’s just connected.
Just as the DC superhero movies and TV shows are basically set on parallel worlds, “Powerless” is only connected in concept. It lives on “Planet P,” an Earth that also exists within the DC multiverse.
So, while Bruce Wayne obviously exists in “Powerless” (and is Batman), he’s a different version of Bruce Wayne than the one in “Batman v Superman” or the one on Fox’s “Gotham.” Similarly, all three of those Bruce Waynes are different takes on the ones seen in the 1989 “Batman” movie and the 1966 “Batman” TV show.
Simple, right? Just think of them all as existing on parallel worlds.
Which means you don’t have to be an expert in DC Comics lore to find “Powerless” entertaining. It’s an office comedy with the added complication of being set in a world where super-battles are commonplace. But “Powerless,” starring Vanessa Hudgens at her perkiest, is very definitely its own thing.
But if you are curious about some of the oddities that flew by as we were introduced to the collection of oddballs who populate Wayne Security in Charm City, let me help. Here, in no particular order, are five Easter eggs in the “Powerless” premiere:
1. He Has All the Best Words: The headline on the Charm City News newspaper in the opening scene reads “President-Elect Luthor Vows To Make Metropolis Super Again.” That sounds like a funny reference to our current president’s campaign slogan, which it is. But Lex Luthor was, in fact, elected president in the DC Universe in 2000. (It didn’t end well.)
2. World’s Oldest Cub Reporter: Did you recognize the father of Emily Locke (Hudgens)? Mr. Locke was played by Marc McClure, the same actor who portrayed Jimmy Olsen in the four Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve (1978-1987) and “Supergirl” (1984). He has, of course, aged considerably since then.
3. It Came from Outer Space: That weird starfish thing that flapped on Emily’s window is a spore from a gigantic alien starfish called Starro the Conqueror, who first appeared in the Justice League’s debut in 1960. The spores attach themselves to people’s faces and turn them into mind-controlled drones.
4. Holy Cameo!: The Wayne Security commercial was narrated by none other than Adam West, who played the eponymous hero on the 1966 “Batman” TV show. Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Batman!
5. Credit Where It’s Due: References to comics creators are littered throughout. The newscaster who announces the Joker’s capture is named “Marv Wolfman,” a man with lengthy credits at both Marvel and DC, and the co-creator of the New Teen Titans and Deathstroke, among others. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, and thus we have a “Siegel & Shuster Coffee” ad on the commuter train. Kane and Finger’s Pub, where our heroes repair for a drink, is named for the creators of Batman, Bob Kane and Bill Finger.
Of course, you don’t need to know any of that to enjoy “Powerless.” But still, it’s kinda fun to know about Starro, right? Even if it is kinda icky.