Powerless is DC’s version of Marvel’s Damage Control, a comic focused on the people who clean up after superhero battles, and an answer to last year’s Deadpool. The individual parts of the cast are excellent, but they don’t add up to much in the show’s pilot “Wayne or Lose.”
The show roped me in with Danny Pudi (Community), Ron Funches (standup comedy), and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) in starring roles, but “Wayne or Lose” was nothing more than an Eighties comedy plot in the world of superheroes. A group of downtrodden misfits (Pudi, Funches, and Christina Kirk) lose their will to fight their oppressive boss Tudyk, who wants the group to fail so he can relocate to Gotham. Along comes a “we can do it” motivator Vanessa Hudgens to save everyone’s jobs.
Set that story at a university (with Tudyk as the dean) and you’ve got every 80s-college comedy. Change the characters to cops and you get Police Academy. The brand of comedy is stale, but there’s the superhero aspect too.
I liked Deadpool. I’m not sure if Deadpool marks critical mass for comic book themed shows. Universal monsters were as popular as superheroes once, until Abbot and Costello Meet movies, which lampooned the oversaturated genre, trumpeted the end of the era, but that’s a discussion for another time. Regardless of whether this is the beginning of the end for superhero movies or not, the first parody/satire is usually the most effective.
Powerless is no Deadpool. The “sorry, not sorry” brand of humor worked better coming from the Merc with a mouth. Making fun of a super powered jump while still showing a super powered jump provided a chuckle. Having six or seven characters connect the dots between Bruce Wayne and Batman but refusing to make the connection turns them into fools. It also questions the intelligence of everyone who doesn’t know Batman’s identity in the DC universe. Plus, the show’s name is Powerless, even though we see plenty of characters with powers.
I didn’t like the pilot, but the cast could turn this around. I want to see Funches, Tudyk, and Pudi succeed. I’m just not sure they’ll be able to turn Powerless around before I lose interest.
Thanks for reading.