Now that Powerless has been on the air for a few weeks, a nagging suspicion that I’ve had has grown into a full-fledged conspiracy theory: Powerless takes place in the future of Gotham.
Hear me out.
The timelines sync.
Thanks to a production style that is best described as taking place in “all the time periods,” Gotham is taking place at some indeterminate “past.” Powerless takes place now, basically, and so its modernity could easily be the future of Gotham.
The are both inherently ridiculous.
Powerless is, of course, being ridiculous on purpose while Gotham is only sometimes self-aware enough to realize what’s going on. That said, a “drama” where the man who will be the Riddler carries around a mug with a question mark on it and speaks in riddles all the time is not that far removed from a comedy where the Riddler’s henchmen all wear t-shirts with question marks on them and have to interpret riddles to figure out their orders.
The camp factor in both shows is so high that Powerless occasionally overshoots comedy so that it’s less funny and more disturbing, while Gotham frequently overshoots seriousness and just becomes dark comedy. And so, both shows end up meeting at the same place.
No one would leave their kid with these Waynes.
Last week’s episode of Powerless, “Sinking Day,” introduced us to Van Wayne’s father, Vanderveer Wayne Sr. Van the younger, played by Alan Tudyk, is a spoiled nightmare of a person who, in the pilot, was delighted all his employees might be losing their jobs because it meant he could move back to Gotham City. Vanderveer the older, played by irascibility incarnate, Corbin Bernsen, is cold and mean. And while Gotham’s Alfred is... not great with kids, I totally can see how Thomas and Martha Wayne, trying to decide who would look after Bruce in the unlikely event of their murder in a dirty alley, would think about these Wayne relatives and say, “You know what? Let’s just take a chance on the butler.”
Everyone in Powerless acts like they’ve grown accustomed to the insanity from Gotham.
Gotham as the prequel to Powerless makes even more sense when you consider that all the regular people in Powerless have grown up with the crazy of Gotham as their norm. You’d have to, right? When your parents tell you about the time a gangster named Fish Mooney and her gang of not-quite mutants roamed the streets of what is still somehow a major American city, you just roll with things. And that’s what everyone in Powerless does—they accept the supervillain antics all around them as normal.
There’s also the fact that Lex Luthor is the president of the United States in Powerless, following in the tradition of easily recognizable villains being mayor in Gotham. (Both Theo Galavant and the Penguin had a run.)
I’d also like to add that last night’s Powerless episode, “Emily Dates a Henchman,” revealed that Van has an obsession with Batman partially related to wanting reimbursement from the Batmobile damaging his car years ago. Now, in a regular universe, being upset that someone didn’t leave a note and insurance information would be normal. In this world, there must be so many people who want to track Batman down and ask for some reimbursement for the shit he destroyed—especially if little Bruce’s formative influences are a cop who executed several guys, a man who shot someone with a rocket launcher from about 10 feet away, and a notorious child slapper.
It is so easy to see Gotham’s little Bruce Wayne grow into the unseen adult Bruce of Powerless.
Part of the business plan of Wayne Enterprises in Powerless is a division called Wayne Security which creates devices to protect against superhero/supervillain confrontations. It creates the anti-Joker venom, and an umbrella to protect against rubble when superheroes toss villains into buildings above you. Then there’s a device to locate villains based on smell. Part of the division’s goal is to make money off of the devastation Batman causes. The other part is to provide things for Batman to use in fighting crime, like he uses the villain/smell detector in the pilot.
Are you telling me the weird-faced little gremlin from Gotham isn’t going to grow up to do that? He’s already weirdly focused on his family’s company for a child, I can see him dreaming this up. And I can see also his face on a book called Wayne or Lose.
It is even easier to see Powerless’ Batman having been the child from Gotham.
Last night’s Powerless recently included the line about how two Robins have supposedly died in its universe, and my immediate thought was, “Yeah, that seems about right.” It both seems correct that the Batman Gotham’s Bruce grows up to be would lose Robins at an astonishing rate—Gotham hates children and will ruin them at every opportunity—and that he wouldn’t be great at hiding their deaths from people.
The only thing I don’t understand is why anyone would want to live in Gotham. Charm City is basically established as Gotham-lite in Powerless, and it’s not a pleasant place. But Van’s whole motivation is to get promoted back to Gotham. Is his dad a member of the Court of Owls and he got all sorts of special Wayne treatment there? Because that’s so reasonable I can’t believe Gotham hasn’t done it already.