The Arrow series finale surprisingly confirmed that Powerless, the canceled 2017 NBC sitcom set in the DC Universe, is part of the Arrowverse. Coming on the heels of Crisis On Infinite Earths, Arrow concluded its historic 8-season run by reuniting most of its main characters as they said farewell to the late Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). However, Oliver clearly changed a great many things in Star City when he remade the Multiverse and fused the Arrowverse series together into one world, Earth Prime. But the last thing fans expected in the finale was a nod to Powerless, the little-seen superhero/workplace comedy, and Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk), the hilariously hapless cousin of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
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Created by Ben Queen (no relation to Oliver Queen, obviously), Powerless ran on NBC from February to April 2017 and it was a unique comedic take on the DC Universe. Set in the fictional Charm City, which was inundated with costumed heroes and villains, Powerless starred Vanessa Hudgens as Emily Locke, who worked at Wayne Security, a subdivision of Wayne Enterprises that created questionable products to defend ordinary people from superhero-related calamities. The uptight Emily oversaw a motley bunch of ingenious misfits like Teddy (Danny Pudi) and Ron (Ron Funches), but she answered to Vanderveer “Van” Wayne, a nightmare boss if there ever was one. Van was hopelessly incompetent but he yearned to be called back to Gotham City and work alongside his more famous and successful cousin, Bruce, whom he called “B-Dubs”. Van Wayne is actually a canonical character from DC Comics; he was introduced in Batman #148 in 1962. Despite an appearance by the late Adam West, Powerless had pitiful ratings and NBC yanked it off their schedule rather than air the final three of its 12 episodes before canceling it in May 2017.
However, the legend of Van Wayne shockingly lives on in Arrow‘s Star City. In the Arrow series finale, “Fadeout”, Thea Queen (Willa Holland) and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), suited up as Speedy and Arsenal, respectively, are seen leaping over the rooftop of the Van Wayne Industries building. The two members of Team Arrow are on the hunt for John Byrne (named for the famed comic book creator), who kidnapped Oliver’s son William. Yet despite the urgency of their mission, Roy took the opportunity to propose to Thea, his on-and-off girlfriend since Arrow season 1. Still, despite the drama in the foreground, the prominent shout out to Van Wayne and Powerless during the scene is hard to ignore since it immediately made Van Wayne canon in the Arrowverse.
Since the Easter egg was specifically about Van Wayne, it’s possible the Arrowverse’s incarnation of Bruce’s cousin is different from the version Alan Tudyk played in Powerless – mainly because Arrow’s Van appears to actually be successful. After all, he has his own company so Arrow‘s Van branched out on own as opposed to begging for scraps at Bruce’s table and being relegated to a section of Wayne Industries where he could do the least amount of harm to the company. Additionally, this means Alan Tudyk now has two characters that are Arrowverse canon since he also plays Mr. Nobody in Doom Patrol, which is officially set on Earth-21.
However, the very fact that Van Wayne exists in the Arrowvere at all opens up some intriguing questions: Since Van would also be the cousin of Kate Kane AKA Batwoman (Ruby Rose), is she aware of Van running his own shingle in Star City? Does the rest of the cast of Powerless work at Van Wayne Industries? Is Van’s company actually a competitor to Gotham’s Wayne Industries? Did Van always exist in the Arrowverse and this is merely the first mention of him or is he one of the many alterations to Earth Prime that Oliver Queen made when he rebirthed the Multiverse as the Spectre in Crisis? And, if it’s the latter, why in the world did Oliver Queen bring Van Wayne into the Arrowverse? Perhaps Oliver and Van knew each other in the past since they were both, at one point, screw-up members of billionaire families. Fans may never learn the answers but it’s nonetheless amusing and a clever nod that the Arrowverse found room for Powerless in its ever-expanding Multiverse.
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