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Shocking! Black Lightning in the News

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From CW's press release:

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BLACK LIGHTNING (@BlackLightning #BlackLightning)

Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe haven for young people in a New Orleans neighborhood overrun by gang violence, he is a hero to his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. However, after too many nights with his life on the line, and seeing the effects of the damage and loss that his alter ego was inflicting on his family, he left his Super Hero days behind and settled into being a principal and a dad. Choosing to help his city without using his superpowers, he watched his daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) grow into strong young women, even though his marriage to their mother, Lynn (Christine Adams), suffered. Almost a decade later, Pierce's crime-fighting days are long behind him... or so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, and those he cares about in the crosshairs of the menacing local gang The One Hundred, Black Lightning returns - to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.

Based on the characters from DC, BLACK LIGHTNING is from Berlanti Productions and Akil Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti ("Arrow," "The Flash"), Salim Akil & Mara Brock Akil ("Being Mary Jane," "The Game," "Girlfriends"), and Sarah Schechter ("Arrow," "The Flash"). The Black Lightning character was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden.

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It's supposed to be New Orleans?  Interesting, since I have sound intel that the skyline shot they used is Atlanta, and even this Irishman from New England knows that those aren't the same place :) .

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According to the press release it is set in New Orleans. But apparently it was filmed in Atlanta.

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... And Vancouver? Because I'm pretty sure I saw a couple of The Flash sets.

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Could be. I got my information from The Futon Critic which published a WB press release stating among other things: "· Production is currently underway in Atlanta."

As far as I'm aware no mention was made of the show being set in New Orleans until the CW announced its schedule yesterday. Everything I read before that didn't mention a specific city.

Edited by paulvdb

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On 5/19/2017 at 2:16 PM, Trini said:

... And Vancouver? Because I'm pretty sure I saw a couple of The Flash sets.

That would be weird since the show isn't supposed to be on either the Arrow or Supergirl earths. 

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On ‎21‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 3:45 AM, MarkHB said:

That would be weird since the show isn't supposed to be on either the Arrow or Supergirl earths. 

True, but people from different Earth's and different cities have been mysteriously sharing apartments, rooftops and warehouses for years now! I can't find any information on whether they did go up to Vancouver or not. I would guess not since it was only a presentation but you never know if they needed a type of set that was already standing for Flash. Where they are actually going to shoot the series doesn't seem to be listed anywhere yet.

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Wanna Know More About The CW’s Black Lightning? The Creators Gave ATX the Scoop.
by Teresa Jusino | 6:11 pm, June 14th, 2017 
https://www.themarysue.com/wanna-know-more-about-the-cws-black-lightning-the-creators-gave-atx-the-scoop/

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Black Lightning doesn’t come to The CW until next year, but creators Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil gave fans at the ATX Television Festival in Austin a little taste of what they can expect from the show.

While there will definitely be a villain or two on the show (namely

 

Tobias Whale, who was introduced in the very first Black Lightning comic)

, Akil emphasizes that Black Lightning is “a character-based family drama” and won’t have a villain-of-the-week feel to it.

He said to his Sunday panel, “It’s a character driven show. I don’t know if there’s going to be a fight every week. There’s certainly not going to be a villain of the week. I don’t want to do that. We really want to explore the characters, even the villains. I think one of the most interesting characters right now from a storytelling standpoint is

Spoiler

Tobias. Because we’re not having him sort of twist his mustache. His hatred for himself and for others comes from a real place, so we want to know why he’s like that."

Brock Akil explained that one of the reasons they wanted to write Black Lightning in the first place was to combat the negative images of black fatherhood that are consistently shown in the media. “That image of a father saving his daughters, protecting his family, protecting his school, protecting his community,” is how Akil explains the basis of the show. “It is happening, but it’s not the narrative [on most shows and movies].”

LGBTQIA representation is also something important to the Akils, and they confirmed that

Spoiler

Anissa, who will become the superhero Thunder, will be a lesbian just like she is in the comics, and that there will be other queer representation on the show, too

. Most importantly, they want to portray the LGBTQIA community like real people, not just as a “cause of the week.”
*  *  *
While the show won’t be an official part of The CW’s “Arrowverse” (despite being produced by Greg Berlanti), that doesn’t mean the Akils are ruling anything out. “The storytelling [on Black Lightning] is a little bit more political. It’s topical, and it’s a little grittier.

Spoiler

… It doesn’t mean that down the road there won’t be visits,” Akil teased.

 

Edited by tv echo
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Akil emphasizes that Black Lightning is “a character-based family drama” and won’t have a villain-of-the-week feel to it.

He said to his Sunday panel, “It’s a character driven show. I don’t know if there’s going to be a fight every week. There’s certainly not going to be a villain of the week. I don’t want to do that. We really want to explore the characters, even the villains.

Glad to hear this.

Since they announced that the show would be on CW, I know they'll connect it to the other DC shows; somehow at some point. (Especially if it lasts longer than a season.) Which show/character gets a cameo first is the question.

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57 minutes ago, Trini said:

Since they announced that the show would be on CW, I know they'll connect it to the other DC shows; somehow at some point. (Especially if it lasts longer than a season.) Which show/character gets a cameo first is the question.

As Berlanti and Kreisberg said when Supergirl was on CBS, "In success, all things are possible."

I'm just hoping that they'll actually film something in New Orleans, which is of course a city with a very distinctive flavor.

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I think this forum needs a spoilers thread...

It Sounds Like

Spoiler

Static Shock

Could Appear In BLACK LIGHTNING; Arrowverse Crossovers A Possibility
Josh Wilding | 6/16/2017
(article link)

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That is

Spoiler

Static Shock, a hero who himself has come close to the small screen a number of times over the years. "I love the idea of Static Shock, and in success, hopefully, we’ll be able to pull other characters in that way. So I’m holding out hope because I love that character." That would be very cool to see and with no other plans seemingly in place for Static, it would make sense for him to show up here.

As for the possibility of Black Lightning crossings paths with heroes from the Arrowverse, Akil added: "The storytelling is a little bit more political. It’s topical, and it’s a little grittier. It doesn’t mean that down the road there won’t be visits." Assuming the show succeeds, crossovers could happen then! 

Edited by tv echo · Reason: Edited to address comment below.

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No need to put that name in spoiler tags if you're just going to post the full link with that name in it outside the tags.

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Black Lightning at San Diego Comic Con:

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SPECIAL SNEAK PEEK PILOT SCREENINGS
WEDNESDAY, JULY 19

6:00–10:00 p.m. Special Sneak Peek Screenings — Comic-Con and Warner Bros. Television Group proudly continue our annual Preview Night tradition with an exclusive pilot screening of the midseason thriller Deception, plus exclusive video presentations of some of the most highly anticipated series of the 2017–18 television season — Krypton and Black Lightning — as well as a brand-new hour-long episode of Teen Titans Go!, and special surprises. Ballroom 20

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SATURDAY, JULY 22

4:50–5:10 p.m. Black Lightning Special Video Presentation and Q&A — Black Lightning makes its Comic-Con debut! [:snip:] Join series stars Cress Williams, Nafessa Williams, China Anne McClain and Christine Adams, along with executive producers Salim Akil & Mara Brock Akil for an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming series along with an electrifying Q&A session. ...

 Ballroom 20

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Series Publicity Contacts:

BLACK LIGHTNING
Leshelle Sargent: 818-954-7163, leshelle.sargent@warnerbros.com, Twitter: @Publicist_LVS
Ben Brown: 818-954-7337, benjamin.brown@warnerbros.com, Twitter: @BenBrownTV

http://comiccon.thewb.com

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Warning: these interviews include some spoilers...

Black Lightning's Cress Williams honored by 'historical undertaking' of suiting up
NATALIE ABRAMS JULY 12, 2017
http://ew.com/tv/2017/07/12/black-lightning-cress-williams-interview/ 

Black Lightning boss: 'This is an American story, this is not a black story'
EP Salim Akil breaks down The CW’s new midseason super series

NATALIE ABRAMS JULY 12, 2017 
http://ew.com/tv/2017/07/12/black-lightning-salim-akil-spoilers/2/

Edited by tv echo
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Ask Ausiello; location for the show:

Spoiler
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Question: Do we know where exactly Black Lightning will be set? —Josh

Ausiello: We actually have an update for you on this front. The show will now be set in Freeland, a fictional city — not Atlanta or NOLA.


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Casting news:

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Warner Bros. Television announced today that they've cast Marvin "Krondon" James III in the pivotal role of Tobias Whale ...

If Krondon isn't a name you're familiar with, you may need to look toward the world of music rather than TV. Born and raised in South Central LA, Krondon (KRNDN) is a solo rapper and the front man for Strong Arm Steady (SAS), who recently released his debut album, "Everything's Nothing." Prior to that, he wrote tracks for artists including Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Xzibit.
 

More info at the link.

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‘Black Lightning’ bolts onto The CW in January
 

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The CW has set a premiere date for one of its midseason series: “Black Lightning” will debut Tuesday, Jan. 16.

The show, from creators Salim and Mara Brock Akil, will take over the 9 p.m. Tuesday spot following “The Flash.” Its current occupant, “Legends of Tomorrow,” wraps up its fall run on Dec. 5 and will return later in the season — whether back to Tuesdays or to a different spot on the schedule, The CW hasn’t said.

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WBTV/DC doing a promo event in Washington D.C.; including the premiere of Black Lightning. Cast and producers are participating.

http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2017/12/14/warner-bros-and-dc-entertainment-announce-dc-in-dc-238510/20171214wbt01/

http://www.dcindc2018.com

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Get ready for "DC in D.C." During the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, Warner Bros. Television Group, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will team up for "DC in D.C.," a landmark pop culture event that brings together the worlds of entertainment and public service to illuminate the story of America and current issues through the lens of comics and Super Heroes. Events will take place Friday, January 12, and Saturday, January 13, 2018, at the Newseum, and will culminate with the world premiere screening of the upcoming DC series Black Lightning - based on the first African-American DC Super Hero to have his own stand-alone comic title - in the Warner Bros. Theater at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, with a party to follow at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

"DC in D.C." brings together stars and producers from Warner Bros. Television's DCTV series, as well as comic book writers and artists from DC Entertainment, who will join invited guests from politics, government service, entertainment, business, academia and more. The event will explore the intersection of comic books, culture, entertainment and enlightenment through a series of panel discussions open to the public. Additionally, "DC in D.C." will present the premiere screening of the DC Universe animated movie Batman: Gotham By Gaslight (for ages 18+) at the Newseum.

Scheduled participants include:

· The stars of Black Lightning - Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin "Krondon" Jones III, Damon Gupton and James Remar - along with executive producers Salim Akil & Mara Brock Akil

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SATURDAY, JANUARY 13 - NEWSEUM

11:00-11:45 a.m. The Many Shades of Heroism: DC Heroes Through the African-American Lens - 2018 will not only bring Black Lightning, a new African-American DC Super Hero to television screens (40 years after the electrifying hero was created), but also a new DC comic book from Oscar(R)-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) and more exciting storytelling featuring African-American characters. In this panel, Black Lightning star Cress Williams and executive producers Salim Akil & Mara Brock Akil will join the acclaimed John Ridley, author and comic book writer Alice Randall (The Wind Done Gone, Earth M), and Black Girl Nerds Editor-in-Chief Jamie Broadnax as they look beyond the super suit to the African-American men and women who are heroes to their community.

6:30-8:15 p.m. Black Lightning Sneak Peek Screening -
 

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BLACK LIGHTNING WORLD PREMIERE - BY INVITATION ONLY

Black Lightning Red Carpet Arrivals, Cocktail Reception, World Premiere Screening and Q&A - Smithsonian's National Museum of American History - Warner Bros. Theater

Black Lightning Premiere Party - Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture

Directly following the screening, series stars Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin "Krondon" Jones III, Damon Gupton and James Remar will join executive producers Salim Akil & Mara Brock Akil for an electrifying Q&A session about the series and its upcoming first season.

Immediately following the Q&A, guests are invited to Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture for the Black Lightning premiere party.

Edited by Trini
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While there are still seats available for the panels, the two public film events - the Gotham by Gaslight premiere and the Black Lightning preview - are sold out. :(

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Short p/review from TVLine:

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Black Lightning (The CW)

Premieres Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 9/8c

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?: Cress Williams (Hart of Dixie) is Jefferson Pierce, a high school principal who years ago retired as Black Lightning, but is tempted to “Supersuit up!” anew when an old foe resurfaces.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Even on a network rife with vigilantes and powered people, Black Lightning is like no superhero show we’ve seen, weaving in family dynamics while taking the fight to urban environs and exploring the distinct tensions therein. (Seriously, the villain Tobias Whale is here to trigger you.) And as an older hero, there’s a nice maturity to Jefferson’s relationships with his ex-wife and their two daughters (one of whom might be harboring her own secret).

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More info about the DC in D.C. event; a pop-up shop that will feature Jitters coffee! Plus other merchandise and displays.

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A fully transportable, high-tech container space that measures 40 feet by 10 feet, the DC Pop-Up Shop will not only support a DC merchandise shop, charging stations and a free Jitters coffee bar, but will also feature interactive displays covering the history of DC — from its earliest origins to the television powerhouses that those Super Heroes represent today. And even though it’s cold outside, the Pop-Up Shop is fully heated. ...

Talent Appearances & Signings: Visiting talent from both WBTV and DC Entertainment will stop by to meet fans and sign autographs. The casts from WBTV’s Gotham and Black Lightning are currently slated to attend, alongside noted DC writers and artists including Jim Lee, Tom King and Geoff Johns.

 

Black Lightning Charging Station: Tying into the Saturday night world premiere of WBTV’s Black Lightning, the Pop-Up Shop will also feature a Black Lightning charging station for visitors to “Power Up” their devices on the go. 

Custom T-Shirts: Also available for purchase onsite will be a selection of nine exclusive DC in D.C. themed T-shirts featuring DC’s greatest Super Heroes and imagery of DC’s greatest books. Artwork will include Superman meets JFK, Superman meets Reagan, Action Comics #1, Detective Comics No. 27, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Black Lightning, Freedom Fighters and more.

 

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Interview with Damon Gupton who plays Inspector Henderson :

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Damon: This version of Henderson is completely different from the other versions. This version is pretty unique because this is a very real world that we are operating in, so I wasn’t able to draw from the Henderson of the comics as much as I thought I would. One of the only physical similarities is maybe that he wears a hat from time to time (laughs). I think the one thing I am able to pull from the earlier representations of him, which have been both white and Black, is his doggedness. The fact that he is a good cop and believes in the letter of the law. That’s the biggest through line I have, but this is a completely different Henderson from the comics. ...
 

Damon: When Salim Akil (Co-creator & Executive Producer) offered this, at first I was like ehh, it is another cop. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, but then I realized that it was a cop written in our voice. I have never played a cop written by someone like Salim and presented by someone like Mara Brock Akil (Co-Creator & Executive Producer) or even in this realm. Me as a fan of comic books, I had never really known of Black Lightning. I knew of Black Panther and all of the Marvel stuff. Once I started researching the history of Black Lightning, I thought how cool would it be to be apart of the first African-American superhero family on television. It is a whole different viewership to try to connect to on a network that definitely tries to build relationships with its viewers. I wanted to be apart of this project that tells stories about our families and communities. So there are a lot of things that came into fruition and I thought this is a cool kind of project to be involved in because nothing has been done like this before. So it was hard to kind of pass that up.

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Some reports of the Black Lightning panel at the Winter TCAs:

TV Guide: 'Black Lightning Shows It's Never Too Late Join the Fight for Justice';

The Wrap: Black Lightning Executive Producer Explains Why Newest CW Superhero Isn’t Part of the Arrowverse'

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“Oftentimes there’s so many reports about studios and networks, and I just want to say again that what you see is a direct result of people supporting us in this,” Akil said. “This idea of why they’re not in this universe or why they’re not in the ‘Justice League’ is because … [we were told] ‘You’ve got to do this the way you want to do this. You’re going to live and die by that, and we support you.’ That’s what you’re seeing.”

 

Deadline: (several quotes)

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“The BS meter is we have a predominantly African American writing staff,” Akil responded. “That’s a good thing…They’re not all African American but…we have people who have either lived this life or know someone who has. And the BS meter also is our cast. They know what the language feels like in their own community.”

It’s CW’s first African American superhero, but another TV critic wondered why the character turns down membership in the Justice League.

“I say this with all due respect, that is not relevant to the show we’re doing, Akil responded to the in-the-weeds question.


EW: (with a new promo photo)

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“The conflict here is not necessarily saving the world or battling aliens,” says Cress Williams, who stars as the electricity-powered title character. “It really is looking at real-life problems in an actual city, in an actual neighborhood and trying to conquer those problems — i.e., drugs and corruption, gun violence, police violence, and just oppression that happens below the poverty line.”

...

“I started out thinking family drama first,” says showrunner Salim Akil, whose wife, Mara Brock Akil, is also an EP. “I wanted every person — Hispanic, white, black, Asian, whoever you are — to be able to recognize yourself.”

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Another TCA report:

Nerdist:

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“I just drew from my life,” Salim told the room of reporters at the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday. “Jefferson is already a community-based superhero, he’s already a principal, he’s already a father. It gave me an opportunity to talk about things that were personal to me. I grew up in a community like Freeland. I was surrounded by those things that you see in Freeland and in Chicago and Oakland. It came naturally. It wasn’t a choice made out of, ‘Hey this is what we want to say.’ It came out of a choice of, ‘This is what I know and this is what we know so let’s do what’s real. Let’s do what’s authentic and real to me,’ which I think everybody embraces. I’m appreciative of that. It’s very personal to me.”

And Mara is proud she and Salim are never forced to take their voice out of their work. “Akil Productions, one thing that Salim and I set out early to do and it’s a through line in all of our projects, is that we do black on purpose,” she said. “It’s important to us to put our humanity into the picture, into the tableau that is out there in storytelling. The authentic nature about how we communicate, how we use humor to survive sometimes, to get through the next moment as opposed to just being funny. Sometimes how we get back out there is to laugh at it, otherwise the alternative is to cry and not do anything. The authentic voice, the black on purpose, the storytelling about the layered characters of Freeland and of this family, and the community [was important to us].”

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Reviews are starting to come out:

ComicBook.com:

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Some of the themes explored in Black Lightning are the kind that will often draw criticism from a certain subset of fandom who insist that they "do not belong" in the escapist fantasies of superhero fiction. The world of Freeland, though, is far from escapist in nature. Black Lightning is not trying to be another Flash but to carve out its own path that reminds (or perhaps informs) mainstream audiences that superheroes can be more than just escapism.

Indeed, Jefferson himself is so reluctant in the pilot that it sometimes feels Anissa -- who will appear as Thunder in the show's first season -- is the most heroic member of the family. Certainly, a younger-skewing network like The CW virtually guarantees that a significant portion of the audience will be primarily focused on Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain). Each of them gives a performance worthy of the attention and Williams, in particular, comes into the show looking and feeling like a fully-formed superhero.


IGN:

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The world of Black Lightning feels alive with real-world issues at the forefront of its story. Creators Salim and Mara Brock Akil have left out the league of assassins, interdimensional speedsters, and alien invaders in order to focus on gang violence, police brutality, and racism within the black community. If you take away the superhero angle, Black Lightning would still be a great drama series on its own.

Williams is excellent as Jefferson. He skillfully inhabits the roles of father, principal, and superhero seamlessly. Since most of The CW heroes are so young, it’s a nice change of pace to see a hero who’s already lived that lifestyle and tried to do something different. Instead of smashing heads in, Jefferson is trying to make sure young people are getting a good education and staying off the streets.


CinemaBlend:

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We've seen gang violence depicted on TV many times before, but rarely within these specific contexts, since Black Lightning is a story as much about hope and heroism than it is about violence and social decay. One factor that helps keep this show separate from the other currently unconnected Arrow-verse shows -- as well as from the de facto comparison series, Netflix's Luke Cage -- is its non-metropolitan setting. Though the Black Lightning comics were initially set in an outskirts neighborhood of Metropolis, the live-action series altered its comic book location, which allows the ironically titled Freeland to develop its own troubled identity, which can't be done with series set in giant and well-established locations like New York City, Central City and others.

Black Lightning creators Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil also made this series stand apart by putting a spin on the stereotypical origin story. Similar to how Netflix's The Punisher was more about re-embracing a vengeful persona than crafting one outright, Black Lightning also shows us why someone would NOT want to become a city-saving superhero, balancing the glorification and the downfalls accordingly. ...

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NY Times review/interview with the producers:

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Of particular interest to the Akils was the idea that Black Lightning had set aside his superhero status and returned to it in middle age.

“It echoes the idea that we can all get into this fight, at whatever place in our lives, at whatever age,” Ms. Akil said. “There’s a lot to fix, a lot to make right, and it’s not going to solve itself.”

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Greg Berlanti, an executive producer of CW’s many comic-book adaptations, including “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Riverdale,” as well as “Black Lightning,” said it was more important that Mr. Akil feel a sense of investment in his show than have it conform to other DC superhero shows.

“I think it’s compatible,” Mr. Berlanti said of “Black Lightning,” “but I also think it’s an evolution. These shows, whether we’re a part of them or not, are only going to stay interesting, exciting and relevant for the audience if there are fresh voices behind them. New people with new stories to tell have to lead the charge. What’s so exciting is that Salim is one of those people.”

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Seeing a dearth of black superheroes in film and TV, Mr. Williams said, “I felt like I was quickly aging out of them.” But after landing “Black Lightning,” he said he connected to the concept of a hero who feels unsure if his powers are helping him win his battles or exacerbating the conflicts.

“It’s easy to draw the parallel of Jefferson Pierce being Martin Luther King and Black Lightning being Malcolm X,” he said.

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