Not every character in comic books can be a hero. After all, if everyone has powers and advanced technology at their fingertips, than heroes would not be all that special. And sure, there's plenty of normal humans in the lives of the heroes. But for every Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred Pennyworth, there are thousands of normal innocent bystanders getting caught in the crossfire. So who are all these people running from fallen debris and being taken hostage by bank robbers? Well, they are the characters in the new sitcom Powerless.
Powerless tells the story of Emily Locke, a normal human woman who goes to work for a relative of Bruce Wayne, at a company that tries to find ways to keep regular humans safe from the powerful heroes and villains of their world. Not just from being kidnapped and murdered, but also from getting crushed by falling cars or run over during a getaway. The sitcom stars Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, Grease Live!), Alan Tudyk (Firefly), and Danny Pudi (Community).
While people should not be watching Powerless to see Batman and Superman in action, showrunner Patrick Schumaker has some cute ideas about bringing in actors who play heroes in the DC Universe, though not playing those heroic roles. Recently, he shared his ideas with CBR:
“If they’ll let us do it, I would have Jason Momoa show up next season as the Sparkletts guy. He’ll never show up as Aquaman. Ben Affleck will never show up as Batman. We can’t rule out that Grant Gustin could show up some other time playing somebody else, that there’s a little bit of a crossover. You have so much license, given the high-concept nature of this show, I think you have a lot of license... The idea of a multiverse, I think, gives you license to have an actor from one of the other shows show up playing somebody different. Because who’s to say in this world that Barry Allen or Wally West – Barry Allen if it’s Grant – isn’t a courier? He doesn’t have any powers, necessarily. Or maybe he does, and we just never show it. Maybe he’s the FedEx guy.”
Gustin, of course, plays the title role on The Flash. His character, Barry Allen, is a forensic scientist for the police department who is perpetually late. That's certainly a joke that also works well with being a delivery person. The Flash also makes strong use of the multiverse, meaning there are parallel worlds. Assuming Powerless exists in a different world than the various other DC shows and movies, it's not outside the realm of possibility that Barry Allen would have a different job or be without powers in this world.
It's a common practice to have actors who have previously been seen in superhero films and television shows guest star on other superhero shows. On Supergirl alone previous Supergirl actresses Helen Slater and Laura Vandervoort have appeared in multiple episodes, as have former Superman Dean Cain, and his Lois Lane, Teri Hatcher, is also set to join. Powerless looks to be continuing that tradition, according to Shumaker:
“We had in the current pilot – he was in the original pilot too, and we re-purposed some of the footage they shot in the original pilot for a new pilot – the actor who played Jimmy Olsen in Richard Donner’s original ‘Superman,’ Marc McClure. He actually stands in for Emily’s father in the pilot. So we already kind of start with some little Easter egg-y stuff that alludes to the films and other media that have existed, historically, for DC Comics.”
Powerless premieres, February 2, at 8:30 p.m. on NBC with 'Wayne or Lose'.