Black Lightning will be joining the superhero show lineup on The CW this January, but showrunner Salim Akil says it will be different than any other superhero show done before.
On a set visit, ComicBook.com got a chance to talk with Akil, where he said the toughest thing about making Black Lightning was remembering to make it a superhero show:
“I’m not really doing a show about a superhero. I’m doing a show about a man who has a family and is trying to affect his community. Someone asked me, what’s the most difficult aspect of doing the show, and it really is me coming to terms with that he has powers, because I could write a whole script without him ever using his powers, which nobody wants me to do.”
This sounds like Akil will be crafting a really human and down-to-earth story that happens to star a superhero, which is an intriguing new direction to take the superhero show genre. In keeping with the more realistic tone, Akil goes on to discuss what role violence and more specifically gun violence will play in this series:
“I know and understand the result of extreme violence in my own life, in my friends’ lives, and so I know what violence really is. I’ve held people who have been shot. I know what a gunshot looks like; I know what violence looks like. So if you ask me what violence is, I’d say it never leads anywhere. But at the same time, violence leads to freedom. Nobody ever fought for freedom without some degree of violence.”
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“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.”
Black Lightning stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce, China Anne McClain as Jennifer Pierce and Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce.