Here’s Why Black Lightning Isn’t Part of the Arrowverse

Cress Williams in Black Lightning

The CW’s upcoming DC Comics series Black Lightning won’t be connected to the Arrowverse (at least at first), and showrunner Salim Akil explains the reasons behind that decision. When the new series was first announced as a potential show for FOX, it was assumed that the adventures of Jefferson Pierce would be like Gotham to its DC Comics-inspired cousins on The CW: tangentially related, but not connected in any tangible way. That made sense, as inter-network crossovers have yet to become a thing, but as soon as Black Lightning made the almost inevitable move to the home of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, it may have been assumed the series would also join the shared universe of those shows.

But long before Black Lightning was set to premiere, CW president Mike Pedowitz confirmed the series was not designed to be part of the Arrowverse, but rather to exist in its own separate corner of the DC TV shows currently on the air. The decision may be contentious amongst fans eager to see another new hero join the ranks of Oliver Queen, Barry Allen, Kara Danvers, and the crew of the Waverider, but just looking at the promos the network recently released as marketing has ramped up ahead of the series premiere it’s plain to see how Black Lightning is effectively establishing its own distinct world.

Related: Black Lighting Doesn’t Pull Any Punches In New Promo & Synopsis

As reported by The Wrap, Akil stated as much during The CW’s panel during the TCA winter press tour 2018. The showrunner touched on the decision to keep the new series separate from the network’s flock of superhero shows, but also addressed whether or not the choice was his or whether it was influenced by the studio and the network. According to Akil, the decision was his and it was fully supported by all parties involved.

“I say this with all due respect, but they’re not really relevant to the show that we’re doing. The great thing that Warner Bros. and CW allowed us to do was create our own world. We really wanted folk to get to know this family before we started branching out.

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. 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.”

In addition to being the network’s first superhero series led by a black cast, the series features a title character who is a middle-aged man with two children in their late-teens and early twenties. Sure, you can split hairs with regard to Oliver’s son William or Barry’s recent marriage to Iris, but neither Arrow nor The Flash began with those elements as part of the show’s foundation. As such, it’s easy to see how Black Lightning may feel like more of a departure from the other Arrowerse shows.

The desire to allow the show space needed to grow on its own and the opportunity not to be beholden to the needs of a larger universe — complete with its own annual crossover events — makes sense. Though it’s likely the show’s success will be weighed against the network’s other superhero programs anyway, the decision to begin the series on its own terms and in its own distinct world seems likely to work in the favor of Black Lightning. 

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Black Lightning premieres Tuesday, January 16 @9pm on The CW.

Source: The Wrap

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