RIDE THE LIGHTNING
DC’s Black Lightning zaps viewers with a dose of reality...
most DC superhero TV shows begin with their protagonists’ origins. Not so Black Lightning. Based on the character created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, it introduces its titular champion nine years after he retired from fighting crime.
“I wanted him to be fully out of the game,” says executive producer Salim Akil, who developed the show with his wife, Mara Brock Akil. “What’s interesting to me is not what you’re doing it’s why you do it and why you are pulled back in. He quit for the love of his family: ‘I love my wife, I love my kids, and I’m coming home beat up…’ So when [his wife] says, ‘I need you to stop,’ he did. Nine good years you’re on the wagon – because your superpowers can almost be like a drug. So she’s telling him to get off this drug.”
Now back in the game, Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) has two daughters (China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams) who might just be following in his footsteps.
“It’s a family drama,” says Brock Akil, “and it’s also about, ‘How do you be a superhero and a family man?’ There’s not very often that burden put on most of the heroes. Imagine worrying about dying – and he can die – ‘If I go out here and use my gift I might lose the greatest gift of my life, which is seeing my girls grow up, and walking them down the aisle…’ All the things that we dream of doing while we struggle every day, putting one foot in front of the other, he’s got that too.”
While Black Lightning will face his longtime archenemy Tobias Whale (played by Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) and his gang, the 100, the show, shot and set in Atlanta, will tackle plenty of real-world issues.
“We chose a real city because we’re living in real times,” says Akil. “Anybody from Atlanta knows that sex trafficking is huge. We can’t ignore that. We want to address that. That’s why we chose a real city – because we want people to be able to recognise the villains and the problems that are surrounding us. We’re not fighting aliens. We’re fighting real villains, and you’ll be able to recognise the issues. And this guy is vulnerable, so he can be hurt.”
Black Lightning will air on the CW in the US in 2018. A UK broadcaster is TBC.
Cress Williams and the on-screen fam feeling pumped.