The CW’s superhero lineup is constantly expanding, and now fans have their first look at the newest offering, Black Lightning, with a brand new trailer that introduces the hero played by actor Cress Williams. Though the series isn’t due until the mid part of the 2017-2018 television season, the network has seen fit to assure audiences that the electrically charged hero is in fact coming and that he will continue the dominance of superheroes on television and The CW in general.
After its humble beginnings with a single street-level hero in Arrow, the network’s DC Comics-inspired shows brought in a host of familiar super powered characters, like The Flash and later Supergirl, while also enlisting some not-so-well-known characters, like the members of the ragtag group of time travelers in Legends of Tomorrow. The result has turned one of TV’s broadcast networks into a superhero haven, one that’s largely defined (because it dares to defy!) by its close association with capes and cowls (though there’s not a whole lot of capes), and now it has the chance to introduced its first solo series led by an African American actor, and one who is familiar to the network, since Williams appeared on Heart of Dixie.
With Arrowverse architect Greg Berlanti producing the series it will be interesting to see how Black Lightning fits into the network’s schedule and lineup as it will likely be assumed that the hero is joining the other costumed crime fighters. But according to the network’s president Mark Pedowitz, that’s not the case, as not only are there no plans to integrate Black Lightning into the Arrowverse but according to Pedowtiz, “We are going to have something very unique in Black Lightning, which is a little bit more than a superhero situation.”
As seen in the trailer, that “more than a superhero situation” focuses on the titular hero’s backstory, which sees Jefferson Pierce having retired from being Black Lightning for some time in order to be a husband to his wife and father to his two daughters. In that time, he’s also become a high school principal, which is certainly not a part of the typical superhero formula of young, single, and trying to figure out how to balance being a crime fighter with having a normal life. Pierce is also significantly older and more mature than, say Oliver Queen, Barry Allen, or Kara Danvers, and his responsibilities go beyond being a twenty-something in a world full of super powered individuals.
With that you can see why The CW is keen to keep Black Lightning distanced from the rest of the Arrowverse, so that it can develop it’s own story and unique take on the DC Comics character that inspired it without having to worry about shared universes or crossover events right away. That’s not saying Black Lightning will never be a part of the network’s web of comic series, as Pedowitz did say “Black Lightning at this time is not part of the Arrowverse.” The key part of that being the phrase: “at this time.”
All in all, it will be interesting to see how the series turns out, and whether or not the network finds a way or even wants to integrate it into the larger universe it has created.
Black Lightning is a midseason premiere on The CW.