We are in the midst of a golden age of Superheroes in film and television. Numerous remakes, the rise of the anti-hero, and Netflix original tv shows based on Marvel characters are loved by all. And now we have a new addition to the lineup, Powerless, a show that is trying to forge new territory in the “been there done that” world of Superheroes.
Powerless, a new comedy on NBC is a great example of taking all those cliches, tropes, and the same old characters we’ve come to know and love and using them to fuel something different and at face value, quite creative. Making an office type comedy in a world of superheroes rings of another meta show, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. It’s combining two tired genres and smashing them together to make something worth watching.
It’s also similar to What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary about a group of housemates who happen to be vampires. It’s hilarious, tongue and cheek and still uses all the old blood sucking cliches we love but in a different light. The question is, how well does Powerless execute its vision of a witty look at Joe Schmos living with Superheroes?
At more than a few episodes in, it’s not looking good despite the refreshing plot premise. The show follows Emily, a young woman with glowing hopes of changing the world who gets a job working for Wayne Enterprises. Yes, that Wayne! Her Boss, Bruce Wayne’s bumbling and narcissistic cousin sets the tone for this goofy comedy with a super-twist. It should be noted that Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame plays Van Wayne, the cousin, and hopefully, his star power can carry this show-up, up and away.
Powerless takes a look at the normal day to day lives of the non-super hero living in super areas. What would you do if Spiderman and Green Goblin were locked in a battle during your morning commute? What if Superman flew through your office building during an important meeting? Just because you live in a town where superheroes fight crime doesn’t mean the world is put on hold. And what if there was a company that invented gadgets to protect from falling rubble, Joker attacks, and other fallouts resulting from superhero battles? But the show isn’t taking place in Gotham, instead, it’s a place called Charm City.
It’s a superhero show where, surprise surprise, the supers aren’t the heroes at all, but the supporting cast.
I think it has potential. I like the premise and the characters, but the writing is pretty glaringly novice. In terms of exposition and character introductions, it’s a little choppy. But it’s just the first season, and perhaps, as the show continues, it will find it’s groove. I do like that Powerless finds a way to not take the world of comic book heroes too seriously and gives a voice to the usually unheard.
Your guess is as good as mine if this show will keep up the ratings. But if you’re looking to reinvent a tired genre you could find some helpful ideas with Powerless.