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Black Lightning is an American superhero television series developed by Salim Akil, airing on The CW. It is based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It stars Cress Williams as the titular character alongside China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin Jones III, Damon Gupton, and James Remar. The series sees the retired Black Lightning return to the hero life and its effects on his family life.
by Tony Isabella
Trevor Von Eeden
Developed bySalim Akil
China Anne McClain
Marvin “Krondon” Jones III
Opening theme”Black Lightning” by Godholly
Composer(s)Kurt Farquhar Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes1 (list of episodes)
Mara Brock Akil
China Anne McClain
Warner Bros. Television
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Original networkThe CW
Original releaseJanuary 16, 2018 – present
Development on the series began in September 2016 when Fox ordered a pilot production commitment for Black Lightning. In February 2017, Fox passed on the series, with it being picked up by The CW with a new script for the pilot. The CW officially ordered the series in May 2017. The first season premiered on January 16, 2018, for a 13-episode run.
Jefferson Pierce, who retired from his superhero persona Black Lightning nine years ago after seeing the effects it had on his family, is forced to become a vigilante again when the rise of the local gang called the 100 leads to increased crime and corruption in his community.
Cast and charactersEdit
Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce / Black Lightning: A retired superhero with the ability to harness and control electricity who becomes a principal at a charter high school. He returns to fighting crime thanks to his daughter and the threat of a star student being recruited by a local gang. China Anne McClain as Jennifer Pierce: Jefferson’s younger daughter who is “an independent, outspoken scholar-athlete with a wild streak of her own,” who also possesses powers. Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce / Thunder: Jefferson’s older daughter who is in medical school and teaches part-time at Jefferson’s school. She is a metahuman like her father, and eventually fights crime as Thunder. Christine Adams as Lynn Stewart: Jefferson’s ex-wife. Marvin “Krondon” Jones III as Tobias Whale: A former politician who rose through the ranks of local government through corruption but was brought down by Jefferson’s father, Alvin. After killing Alvin, Tobias was exiled and became the leader of The 100 gang. Damon Gupton as Henderson: A veteran detective inspector with the police, who becomes an unlikely ally to Jefferson, despite his role in the community. James Remar as Peter Gambi: Jefferson’s oldest friend, who became a father figure and mentor to him, and works as his “tailor”. RecurringEdit
Kyanna Simone Simpson as Kiesha: Jennifer Pierce’s best friend and the daughter of Henderson, who encourages Jennifer to challenge her perfect image. Edwina Findley as Tori Whale: Tobias Whale’s younger sister. Chantal Thuy as Grace Choi: A bartender who becomes the love interest of Anissa. Skye Marshall as Mrs. Frowdy: Garfield High’s vice principal. GuestEdit
Jill Scott as Lady Eve: The owner of a funeral parlor who connects Tobias Whale with a secret group of corrupt leaders. Senator Nina Turner as herself
No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
1″The Resurrection”Salim AkilSalim AkilJanuary 16, 2018T43.100012.31 After his older daughter Anissa is arrested for protesting, high school principal and former superhero Jefferson Pierce is again pulled over for a crime he did not commit due to racial tension is prevalent in his community. The last straw comes when his youngest daughter, Jennifer, gets in trouble at a club owned by a gang called the 100, and he is forced to use his powers to rescue her. Gambi, his mentor and friend, urges him to become Black Lightning again, but Jefferson refuses to break the promise he made to his ex-wife Lynn to give up heroics. A 100 gangbanger, Will, and his friends abduct Jennifer and Anissa from school despite an agreement between Jefferson and the gang, and Lynn frees him from his promise. With Gambi’s help, he saves the girls but is unable to find Will’s boss, Lala. After being brought to the head of the 100, Tobias Whale, by his two underlings, Lala is instructed to kill Black Lightning. Anissa’s trauma activates her own powers, causing her to break a sink in half.
2″Lawanda: The Book of Hope”Oz ScottSalim AkilJanuary 23, 2018TBATBD
3″Lawanda: The Book of Burial”Mark TonderaiJan NashJanuary 30, 2018TBATBD
In September 2016, after being in various stages of development, Warner Bros. Television began pitching Black Lightning to networks. The project was being developed by Mara Brock Akil and her husband, Salim Akil. They were partnered with Greg Berlanti, who was behind several DC Comics properties for the studio, eventually landing at Fox with a pilot production commitment. In February 2017, Fox opted not to go forward with the project, deciding that it was “not a good fit into its already crowded genre drama space”. Warner Bros. Television presented the project to other networks, with The CW officially ordering a pilot for Black Lightning. The CW also opted to discard the original pilot script, as it had been written for Fox, and shoot a short presentation instead. The CW officially ordered Black Lightning to series on May 10, 2017.
Salim Akil stated that Black Lightning would not follow the villain of the week format or be a procedural, because he wanted to “explore the characters, even the villains”.
In late February 2017, Cress Williams was cast as Jefferson Pierce / Black Lightning, followed a month later by the casting of China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams as his daughters, Jennifer Pierce and Anissa Pierce, respectively, and Christine Adams was cast as Lynn Pierce, Jefferson’s ex-wife. At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that James Remar and Damon Gupton had joined the cast as Pierce’s friend Peter Gambi and detective inspector Henderson, respectively. The following month, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III of the hip hop group Strong Arm Steady was cast as Tobias Whale.
At the end of September 2017, Kyanna Simone Simpson was cast as the recurring role Kiesha.
Black Lightning’s costume was designed by Laura Jean Shannon.
Filming for the series takes place in Atlanta.
Black Lightning began airing on The CW on January 16, 2018, and is set to run for 13 episodes.
1″The Resurrection”January 16, 20180.8/32.31TBDTBDTBDTBD
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 100% approval rating with an average rating of 8.43/10 based on 42 reviews. The website’s consensus reads “Black Lightning doesn’t reinvent superhero TV, but it does give the genre a necessary jolt with real-world plots, scary new villains, and a star-making performance from Cress Williams.” Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 79 out of 100 based on 23 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Daniel Fienberg, in a review for the The Hollywood Reporter, praised the series for being “smart and relevant and full of an attitude that’s all its own.”
Connection to the ArrowverseEdit
Further information: Arrowverse
Despite airing on The CW and being created by Berlanti, Mark Pedowitz, president of The CW said in May 2017 that the series “at this time, is not part of the Arrowverse. It is a separate situation.” Berlanti had previously stated when the series was in development at Fox that it would not crossover with his other DC Comics television properties on The CW nor would it exist in the Arrowverse. However, Akil later stated that they were not ruling out eventual crossovers. In August 2017, Pedowitz added, “If [the showrunners] wish to bring it in, that is their call. We had a long discussion with the studio, Mara, Salim, and myself. We were fine with them making it separate from the Arrowverse, they have a different point of view. If they end up wanting to go that way, that will be their decision.”