News

12 DC Comics Easter Eggs to Watch for on Powerless

Comedy plans to include obscure villains, Aquaman characters, and even a former Batman

by | January 30, 2017 | Comments

Powerless (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

In comic book movies, the damage caused by superhero battles is serious drama. On NBC’s new comedy Powerless, they laugh about it.

Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens) goes to work for Wayne Security, whose Charm City office is run by Bruce Wayne’s cousin Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk). Emily and her colleagues Teddy (Danny Pudi), Ron (Ron Funches), and Jackie (Christina Kirk) develop products to protect regular people on the street from falling buildings and supervillain blasts.

Powerless originally began as a workplace comedy in a superhero insurance company, created by Ben Queen. When the insurance angle proved limiting, NBC brought in Patrick Schumacker and Justin Halpern ($#*! My Dad Says, Cougar Town) to pitch a new angle. They came up with Wayne Security and a whole bunch of creative ways to integrate DC Comics characters and references into the show.

Schumacker spoke with Rotten Tomatoes at the NBC party for the Television Critics Association, and shared 12 Easter eggs from the first season of Powerless. They may be considered mild spoilers, but he doesn’t give away the jokes.


1. Superman Could Turn Back Time Again

POWERLESS -- "Wayne Dream Team" Episode 103 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jennie Pierson as Wendy, Ron Funches as Ron, Vanessa Hudgens as Emily, Danny Pudi as Teddy -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

This is a spoiler for the 1978 Superman: The Movie, but that movie ends with Superman turning back time after Lois Lane dies. Schumacker said they had actually developed an episode based on that for the early version of the show, and he thinks it could still work.

“There’s an episode we were in love with we’re calling ‘No Consequence Day,’” Schumacker said. “Imagine Lois Lane is killed. It’s public knowledge, they announce it on the news. One of our characters happens to be a conspiracy theorist and has heard about his happening before and he knows that when this happened before, Superman flew around the earth, reversed the rotation of the earth as well as time which means he’s going to do this again because he’s in love with Lois Lane. It also means that we have about eight hours to do whatever the f*** we want. What would you do if you had zero consequences? And then you’ll see whether or not Superman ends up saving Lois Lane. We’re going to try as hard as we can to make it work.”


2. Batman Will Appear

POWERLESS -- "Wayne or Lose" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Alan Tudyk as Van -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

Powerless has some fun with how many ways they can’t show Batman. He sends Van text messages and maybe calls, but we don’t hear his voice on the other line. Schumacker said, however, that Batman will make an actual appearance.

“There’s an episode that we’re doing right now that does involve Batman, and he will, in a very small way, make an appearance,” Schumacker said. “That’s all I can say.”


3. Another Famous Batman Will Be Heard

Batman: The Movie

Powerless got Adam West, star of the ’60s Batman TV series, to provide the voice of Bruce Wayne for a Wayne Security training video.  You’ll also hear West’s voice in some online promos for Powerless.

“He’s done some digital promos for NBC.com and YouTube,” Schumacker said. “We were like, ‘Well, we’ve got him in the studio. Let’s have him do it. It’ll be a nice thing, the voice of Bruce Wayne talking about Wayne Security.’”


4. Jack O’Lantern Returns

POWERLESS -- "Wayne Dream Team" Episode 103 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jennie Pierson as Wendy, ROn Funches as Ron, Vanessa Hudgens as Emily,Danny Pudi as Teddy -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

Jack O’Lantern already appears in the Powerless pilot, as revealed in promos too. This DC Comics villain has a lantern with the power to cast light, fire, illusions, and fog as well as teleporting and super strength. So Powerless didn’t explore all of Jack’s powers in his first appearance.

“The second episode is Jack-O’Lantern making a return wreaking havoc on the streets,” Schumacker said. “Our character is in line for a coffee essentially and you see the destruction happen on the street level.”


5. A Riddler Henchman Has Been Cast

POWERLESS -- "Wayne Dream Team" Episode 103 -- Pictured: Vanessa Hudgens as Emily -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

Batman must be used sparingly, and that probably goes for major Batvillains like The Joker, Catwoman, and The Riddler, too. At least The Riddler will send one of his minions to Charm City, Schumacker said.

“We have Vanessa’s character dating a guy who turns out to be a henchman for the Riddler, played by Robert Buckley from iZombie,” Schumacker revealed.


6. Aquaman Is Well Represented on Powerless

POWERLESS -- "Wayne Dream Team" Episode 103 -- Pictured: Vanessa Hudgens as Emily -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

In the movies, Jason Momoa is playing Aquaman, Arthur Curry. Aquaman must have a good sense of humor too, because he took the Entourage jokes well and several people from his home of Atlantis will visit Powerless.

“We have obscure Aquaman villains showing up and turning people’s arms into tentacles,” Schumacker said. “We have Atlantean businessmen showing up so that Vanessa and the R&D team can pitch them, and Wayne Security can potentially become a contractor. It explores the cultural differences between Atlanteans and our people in Charm City. Also, you find out that Ron was born in Atlantis.”


7. Two More Global Guardians Are Coming

POWERLESS -- "Wayne Dream Team" Episode 103 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jennie Pierson as Wendy, Vanessa Hudgens as Emily -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

Jack O’Lantern was a former Global Guardian before turning evil. The Global Guardians  are sort of an international Justice League, and since they’re not as well known as the JLA and its A-list members, they are fair game for Powerless.

“We have a guy who’s a member of the Global Guardians called The Olympian that shows up in a couple episodes,” Schumacker said. “Also, we’re currently working on a story with Green Fury — aka Fire. A lot of people know the tandem of Fire and Ice. They’re members of the Golden Guardians as well. Those are characters that I’m in love with.”


8. Supervillains Have To Do Community Service

POWERLESS -- "Wayne or Lose" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Canny Pudi as Teddy -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

Not all of the supervillains on Powerless are caught in the act. Some have already been captured and appear providing their community service. Schumacker took great joy in selecting random obscure comic book villains for those jokes.

“There’s a cameo by a very obscure villain named Prince Evillo — amazing name,” Schumacker said. “He is part of a workplace training video that he has had to do as a public service, because he’s been in a maximum security prison. So the HR department at our company has a cassette tape that basically is a film of Prince Evillo telling you all about respect in the workplace.”


9. Crimson Fox Represents the Underdogs

POWERLESS -- "Wayne or Lose" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Vanessa Hudgens as Emily -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

Schumacker talked about portraying less popular superheroes as underdogs on Powerless. Crimson Fox appears in the pilot, and Schumacker suggests that she’ll be back with greater ambitions.

“Yes, she’s super-powered, but she’s aware that she’s a second-tier hero compared to the Justice League,” Schumacker said. “She would love nothing more than to be invited to the Justice League, but she’s had to settle for Justice League Europe. Every episode seems to have some sort of member of the Justice League referenced, but I like seeing characters that are able to, on some level, relate to the everyman. Crimson Fox knows in a fight with Superman — not that that would ever happen — she would be destroyed. So they have a chip on their shoulder, and I think that’s funny. I think ultimately comedy is about dorks. Having a superhero think that he or she is a dork by comparison to Superman is funny.”


10. Comic Book Authors Get Some Love, Too

POWERLESS -- "Wayne Dream Team" Episode 103 -- Pictured: (l-r) Danny Pudi as Teddy, Ron Funches as Ron -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

Everyone loves the Stan Lee cameo in Marvel movies, but die-hard comic book fans really appreciate it when they’re favorite authors get name checked. Powerless is about to make them very happy.

“There’s a pastry cart that’s named Lamire’s Patisserie after Jeff Lemire,” Schumacker said. “There’s a pizza company, Palmiotti’s Pizzeria after Jimmy Palmiotti who’s writing Harley Quinn right now for DC.”


11. Don’t Play With Superhero Gear

POWERLESS -- "Wayne or Lose" Episode 102 -- Pictured: (l-r) Josh Breeding as Steve, Ron Funches as Ron -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

Brainstorming future episodes, Schumacker shared some other gags he hopes to work into Powerless.

“I want to be able to have a character walking in the background unable to pry a Dr. Fate helmet off of themselves because they have it in the office for some f***ed up reason,” Schumacker said. “I want to be able to reference Blue Beetle.”

One scene got cut out of the pilot, and Schumacker hopes to find another place for it. “Steve (Josh Breeding) tries on a mask the sole purpose of which is to combat Scarecrow’s fear gas,” Schumacker said. “So it’s like a neoprene mask that you would wear with a filter on it. Of course, it’s in beta and it doesn’t work, and Steve gets dosed with fear gas and starts going apesh*t around the office. That’s one of the ones we hope to bring back.”


12. Bruce Wayne’s Cousin Did Appear in the Comics

POWERLESS -- "Wayne Dream Team" Episode 103 -- Pictured: (l-r) Alan Tudyk as Van, Vanessa Hudgens as Emily -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

It’s OK if you don’t remember Bruce Wayne’s cousin Van. Now that Alan Tudyk is playing him, you’ll never forget him, but a Van Wayne did appear in one comic book. That’s where Schumacker got his name.

“By the way, I say that Alan’s character is related to an existing character,” Schumacker said. “It’s very loose. Vanderveer Wayne is a character that existed in one comic, one issue in 1962. We came to DC and we’re like, ‘OK, there is this guy who ostensibly was Bruce Wayne’s cousin who was a con artist. Can we retcon him, make him a businessman, make him the black sheep cousin of the Wayne dynasty?’ Everyone was like, ‘Works for us.’”

Powerless premieres February 2  at 8:30 p.m. on NBC


Tag Cloud

Extras spy thriller Character Guide NYCC Mary Tyler Moore Trivia GLAAD AMC Kids & Family Summer 20th Century Fox Freeform Tarantino Cosplay social media mockumentary Lifetime romance 2016 History cancelled TV shows Mary poppins toy story TV Land BET psychological thriller Pride Month 71st Emmy Awards Valentine's Day Adult Swim Peacock Tumblr richard e. Grant Reality Acorn TV crossover free movies Cartoon Network SXSW Film Festival Esquire Spike spinoff nature President finale GoT Ovation Binge Guide Dark Horse Comics foreign zero dark thirty Rock E! X-Men game of thrones crime RT History WarnerMedia mutant CBS All Access supernatural VH1 batman Sneak Peek Video Games versus FX Paramount Network Anna Paquin SDCC First Reviews A&E USA Apple TV+ teaser Horror MSNBC cancelled television Pirates disaster 2018 Country dceu Western police drama BBC serial killer cars Spring TV Superheroes Britbox Biopics Arrowverse Apple TV Plus Pop comiccon YouTube Red animated period drama Sony Pictures unscripted RT21 The Witch Captain marvel elevated horror hist Emmy Nominations Universal green book halloween ABC Best and Worst dragons historical drama Super Bowl Bravo Animation ghosts harry potter justice league Ellie Kemper Star Wars miniseries book Chernobyl theme song zombies TNT YouTube National Geographic cooking Ghostbusters DC streaming service sequel Sci-Fi APB Photos transformers Amazon Prime Disney streaming service Comic Book cults Comedy Central Reality Competition American Society of Cinematographers See It Skip It New York Comic Con thriller Logo cartoon blockbuster OWN 24 frames IFC Podcast WGN Pet Sematary TV Hulu facebook renewed TV shows anime Nat Geo Masterpiece Marathons Schedule Stephen King TCM CNN kids cinemax The Walking Dead sitcom medical drama PBS composers children's TV talk show Starz biography game show anthology discovery singing competition TV renewals Turner Classic Movies Lionsgate quibi doctor who Tomatazos Christmas witnail Black Mirror ESPN adaptation Marvel Television Disney Channel CW Seed Opinion MCU Teen Interview Fall TV Infographic PaleyFest cancelled TV series Trailer politics DC Comics Box Office Marvel Studios south america crime drama Showtime Pixar Polls and Games based on movie war cats revenge Winter TV Apple Countdown San Diego Comic-Con Watching Series strong female leads adventure Premiere Dates Television Academy Rocky Song of Ice and Fire The Purge Classic Film Drama what to watch tv talk Elton John stand-up comedy Calendar travel TruTV NBC dramedy video Writers Guild of America crime thriller Grammys television Trophy Talk LGBTQ DGA Star Trek Mystery CMT dc technology Netflix blaxploitation casting Toys Family Columbia Pictures Nickelodeon spanish language The Arrangement Amazon Prime Video YA movies FXX spider-man TCA Shondaland YouTube Premium E3 Comics on TV LGBT Emmys 2017 Syfy science fiction Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comic diversity Mudbound Women's History Month Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Rom-Com HBO Max Red Carpet Holidays jamie lee curtis boxoffice Oscars Fantasy spain series Walt Disney Pictures robots Mary Poppins Returns golden globes Winners SundanceTV Shudder breaking bad A24 Certified Fresh El Rey FOX zombie Marvel Amazon BBC America Music Thanksgiving DirecTV sports Crackle Action hispanic vampires 2019 Brie Larson Sundance Now Musical Turner true crime werewolf TLC Warner Bros. ABC Family VICE docudrama Lucasfilm Cannes ITV space Mindy Kaling Awards Tour cancelled CBS aliens Food Network cops 45 Sundance USA Network ratings Crunchyroll HBO romantic comedy political drama slashers streaming canceled TV shows Epix Awards MTV festivals latino binge Superheroe Disney Plus Heroines natural history IFC Films Rocketman Election indie Fox News TCA 2017 Martial Arts GIFs The CW First Look Comedy award winner Musicals Film Paramount TBS 21st Century Fox Spectrum Originals 2015 Disney independent 007 Nominations canceled TIFF Vudu Creative Arts Emmys DC Universe joker psycho Set visit Year in Review Quiz