While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has continued to expand through film installments as well as television series – both current and upcoming – on ABC, Netflix, and other networks/streaming services, the shared universe model has somewhat limited its reach. Conversely, DC Comics characters inhabit a number of different universes, all technically connected by the multiverse, which allows for multiple versions of the same character to exist – Grant Gustin on The Flash and Ezra Miller in the DC Extended Universe. The newest DC Comics series is NBC’s upcoming workplace comedy, Powerless.
Set at a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises called Wayne Security, Powerless kicks off with lead character Emily Locke’s (Vanessa Hudgens) first day as the new Director of Research & Development. The company is run by Bruce Wayne’s cousin, Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk), though it’s unclear clear whether Batman will be one of the DC Comics characters featured in the series. However, now we do know that Powerless exists separate from all other corners of the DC Comics multiverse.
During the Powerless panel at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, as reported by TVLine, executive producer Justin Halpern revealed the series is set on Earth-P (presumably for Powerless) as opposed to the world of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice or The CW’s Arrowverse. Fellow executive producer Patrick Schumacker further elaborated:
“Batman V Superman and Man of Steel are the cinematic universe. The Berlanti-verse is its own thing. And Earth-P is its own thing. And they all exist within the multiverse of DC.”
Halpern additionally revealed the extensive DC Comics multiverse has impacted which characters Powerless is allowed to include, saying, “When you ask for something that’s in the Berlanti-verse [stable of shows], there’s a lot of red tape. It’s on a different network.” But, the number of other DC Comics adaptations on both television and film allow for a bit of good natured teasing on Powerless. Halpern said:
“We have a joke in the pilot where we poke fun at the Batman V Superman film. It’s always going up to [the DC Comics brass] and being like, ‘Hey, can we s—t on this?’ and usually they have a good sense of humor about it.”
Given what we’ve already seen of Powerless from the early teasers – including one that pokes fun at the iconic “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman” line – it’s clear NBC’s superhero sitcom will offer plenty of meta humor. Plus, Powerless is in the unique position of being the first comic book-based half hour comedy, and NBC seems to be setting up the series as counterprogramming to all other DC Comics offerings. Whether Powerless finds success among DC fans and casual TV viewers remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a different take on the comic book multiverse.
Powerless will premiere Thursday, February 2nd @ 8:30pm ET/PT on NBC.