In the ever-expanding realm of DC Comics adaptations, there’s one underappreciated gem that often gets overshadowed by its more illustrious counterparts. Enter ‘Powerless,’ a quirky sitcom that dared to explore the mundane lives of everyday people in a world filled with caped crusaders and villains. While it may not have soared to superheroic heights, its brief journey on NBC in 2017 left an intriguing mark on the DC Universe.
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A Unique Approach to DC Lore
‘Powerless’ was an ambitious project that aimed to infuse the familiar DC Universe with a dose of workplace comedy. Set in Charm City, it revolved around the employees of Wayne Security, a subsidiary of the illustrious Wayne Enterprises. The show’s protagonist, Emily Locke (played by Vanessa Hudgens), along with a zany cast including Danny Pudi, Ron Funches, and the versatile Alan Tudyk as Vanderveer Wayne, navigated a world where superheroes and supervillains were part of the daily backdrop.
Unlike other adaptations that might have reveled in the fantastical elements of the DC Universe, ‘Powerless’ took a more subdued approach. While it occasionally touched on the absurdity of living in a world with characters like Plastic Man and Arm-Fall-Off Boy, the show often focused on relatable, office-centric storylines. This decision, while safe, left fans craving more of the comic book charm that makes the DC Universe so beloved.
A Square Peg in a Round Hole
One of ‘Powerless’s’ challenges was its choice of network. NBC, famous for hits like ‘The Office,’ seemed like a logical home for a workplace sitcom set in the DC Universe. However, the show felt out of place amidst NBC’s usual lineup, which leaned heavily toward police procedurals and grounded comedies at the time. In a season dominated by the likes of the ‘Chicago’ series, ‘Powerless’ was a colorful outlier that struggled to find its footing.
Adding to the hurdles, the series debuted mid-season, an unconventional move for a new show. Unfortunately, it entered a crowded field of mid-season offerings, facing stiff competition and failing to capture the audience’s attention. Despite its valiant effort, ‘Powerless’ had an uphill battle from the start.
A Quiet Legacy
While ‘Powerless’ may not have garnered a dedicated fanbase or cult following, it did leave a lasting impact in some unexpected ways. Notably, it featured the final live-action appearance of the legendary Adam West, who graced the show with his presence. A fitting farewell for the actor who forever changed the perception of Batman.
Perhaps the most intriguing legacy of ‘Powerless’ lies in its connection to the animated series ‘Harley Quinn.’ Writer Justin Halpern, who contributed to ‘Powerless,’ went on to co-create ‘Harley Quinn.’ This series took the concept of ‘normal’ humans in a superhero world to new heights, exploring unique dynamics and even delving into the romantic relationship between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
Furthermore, ‘Harley Quinn’ brought along some familiar faces from ‘Powerless,’ with Ron Funches voicing King Shark and Alan Tudyk contributing his vocal talents. This surprising crossover added depth to the interconnected world of DC adaptations and highlighted the creative evolution from ‘Powerless’ to ‘Harley Quinn.’
In retrospect, ‘Powerless’ may not have been a resounding success, but its existence paved the way for a more daring and imaginative take on the DC Universe. It’s a reminder that even in the realm of superheroes, sometimes it’s the underdogs that leave the most interesting legacies.