Warning: spoilers ahead for the Powerless premiere! Don't read any further if you haven't seen the first episode of the brand new NBC series!
It's no secret that DC knows how to make a fantastic TV series. For all of its missteps on the silver screen, DC's television projects like Gotham and the Arrow-verse have managed to nail the tone and style that fans expect from this particular universe. Now, Detective Comics has finally decided to get into the realm of comedy with NBC's new workplace series Powerless, and the result is a hilariously worthy addition to the small screen DC mythos.
After only one episode, Powerless has already thoroughly proven that it has a profound understanding of the world in which it lives. The series premiere alone seemed packed to the brim with delightful DC references, so we have taken it upon ourselves to compile some of the best. Check out our list of DC Easter eggs from the Powerless series premiere and let us know which one was your favorite! Without further delay, let's kick this off with a character who definitively proves that Powerless isn't messing around when it comes to its obscure DC characters.
What It Refers To: Vanderveer "Van" Wayne is Bruce Wayne's dimwitted cousin and a thorn in the side of The Caped Crusader whose publication history dates as far back as 1962. He has not appeared in DC Comics too many times, but his most famous pre-Powerless appearance occurred when he hired a con man to portray Batman while he imitated Robin in an attempt to impress Bruce and Dick Grayson. Spoiler alert: it didn't work.
How It Was Used in The Episode: Although the basic characterization of Alan Tudyk's Van Wayne remains relatively consistent with what DC fans remember from the 1960s, his narrative purpose has changed substantially. In Powerless, the lesser Wayne the head of the Charm City branch of Wayne Security, and seemingly positioned as a minor workplace antagonist against Vanessa Hudgens' Emily Locke. It's a modern twist on a classic DC archetype, and one that was only added when the pilot got retooled.
What It Refers To: Just in case the Lex at the beginning of the company name doesn't already give it away, LexCorp is the company owned by none other than Superman's arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. A point of pride for the megalomaniacal billionaire, the company is a powerhouse in the DC lore that keeps Luthor's evil schemes funded and protects him from a wide variety of lower-level threats.
How It Was Used in The Episode: Although we don't really get to see LexCorp as an evil entity during the events of Powerless' series premiere, the show still does a pretty good job with regards to keeping its primary function quite similar to the comics. LexCorp is a direct financial competitor to Wayne Enterprises, and in many ways, it's a superior company. That might have something to do with the fact that the CEO isn't always disappearing.
What It Refers To: The Joker has used a wide variety of weapons over the course of his career as one of the most iconic villains in the history of comics. However, arguably his most famous weapon is his Joker Venom -- a chemical substance that causes lethal fits of laughter and leaves its dead victim with a grisly, rigor-mortis smile across his or her face. It was originally a way to get around censors, but it has turned into something much more nightmarish over the years.
How It Was Used in The Episode: Wayne Security is responsible for a number of life-saving inventions, and one of those products happens to be an EpiPen-esque device designed to counteract the effects of traditional Joker Venom. Granted, the Powerless team pretty much stole this idea from LexCorp, but it's really the thought that counts, isn't it?
What It Refers To: The Justice League has faced off against a wide variety of villains over the course of its long publication history. From Darkseid to Brainiac to the aforementioned Lex Luthor, all of them have had different impacts on readers. However, none of them can compare to the one that started it all: Starro the Conqueror. This five-pointed baddie made his first appearance in 1960 facing off against the original League line-up -- forever solidifying his place as one of DC's greatest villains.
How It Was Used in The Episode: Although he doesn't get to do anything quite so grandiose during the events of Powerless' series premiere, Starro still gets one of the most prominent appearances of any major DC bad guy. He can be seen climbing a building in the background while Emily Locke narrates the beginning of the episode, until he turns and shows his one large eye to the camera.
What It Refers To: Crimson Fox isn't the most iconic DC superheroine, but she nevertheless maintains a long publication history that dates back to the 1980s. She has superhuman speed as well as agility, and (perhaps most notably) she can emit pheromones that generate an intense sexual attraction in men. Needless to say, she's pretty unique.
How It Was Used in The Episode: Crimson Fox doesn't necessarily get a starring role in the series premiere of Powerless, but she's the most prominently featured hero in the episode. She's the first metahuman that Emily Locke sees upon arriving in Charm City, and the episode seems to present her as an up-and-coming hero in the small screen DC universe. It's not much to go off of, but it's enticing for the future of the series with regards to the type of heroes that we will get to see.
What It Refers To: True to his name, Jack O'Lantern is a DC villain with a demonic, Halloween-inspired motif. He wields a magic lantern that grants him a variety of mystical powers (not unlike Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott) and his powers gradually increase as the day progresses, reaching their dark peak at midnight.
How It Was Used in The Episode: In the same way that Powerless features a relatively obscure hero in the form of Crimson Fox, the series premiere also features the infinitely mysterious Jack O'Lantern as the first significant threat to Charm City. We never get a great glimpse of the DC bad guy, but it's the threat posed by his reign of terror that inspires Emily to have the team create an early warning system based off of his unique smell.
Batman V Superman
What It Refers To: Superheroes have a habit of breaking from their usual statuses as super friends to lay a beat down on one another. Just about every major comic book universe has utilized this trope at least once, and DC most notably capitalized on the famous rivalry between Batman and Superman last year when Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice debuted in theaters. It's a fact of life; audiences love to watch those two go at it.
How It Was Used in The Episode: During the Powerless series premiere, Van makes an offhand comment about superheroes "fighting each other for vaguely defined reasons." Although it's a line that feels entirely at home in the DC universe, it also seems like a very meta swipe Zack Snyder's superhero epic. Honestly, it arguably encapsulates Powerless' fun tone better than any single line in the premiere.
What It Refers To: I think it's safe to say that Kryptonite is easily the most well-known and iconic superhero weakness in the history of the genre. These irradiated pieces of Superman's home world come in a wide variety of colors and can have some different effects on the Man of Steel, ranging from removal of his powers to psychosis, and even death. To put it bluntly: it's nasty stuff, and it has popped up numerous times in almost every major Superman story.
How It Was Used in The Episode: During a brainstorming session, Ron (Ron Funches) suggests the possibility of creating Kryptonite windows for buildings so that the Last Son of Krypton cannot accidentally barrel through a building during one of those aforementioned superhero fights. The idea is eventually shot down once Emily Locke points out the very obvious flaw that these will prevent Superman from helping people inside of buildings.
Powerless airs every Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. EST on NBC. Take a look at our midseason premiere guide for more information regarding all of the other highly anticipated spring TV debuts!