The Black Lightning co-showrunner teases what makes the show so different than the other shows in the Arrowverse, and the possibility of it crossing over with Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, or Legends of Tomorrow. Over the past five years The CW has carefully crafted one of the more surprising connected live-action universes that audiences have ever seen, with annual events that bring together all of their different shows and heroes in massive team-up episodes. Last year, The CW TV universe officially welcomed Supergirl into its ranks -- with the show's transition over from CBS to The CW in its second season - and now this time around, another very distinct and unexpected point of view is about to be added to this ever-growing universe.
That new perspective will be coming courtesy of Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), aka Black Lightning. Taking place years after Pierce had originally retired from the iconic DC hero persona, Black Lightning follows Jefferson when he realizes the only way to protect his family and community is by putting the suit back on again. And in case that synopsis didn't already make it sound like a superhero unlike any other, then the first trailer for Black Lightning made it abundantly clear how unique it's going to be.
During a recent interview with EW, co-showrunner Salim Akil went into great detail about what he thinks separates Black Lightning from not only DC superhero shows, but the entire live-action comic book genre in general:
"Well, one, he’s older. [Laughs] He’s got aches and pains, he’s not as useful, and that is something that is unique. Two, there are not many superheroes going into Chicago, going into Watts, going into the areas and dealing with the issues that Black Lightning is going to deal with, and I think that’s unique. His villains are people that viewers hear about and read about every day. I think that’s unique. The third thing is he’s black. [Laughs] We don’t have a lot of black superheroes. I’m happy about it, because there’s a resurgence of it, but it’s still not totally representative of our culture, so amongst all the different so-called black superheroes, Jefferson stands alone and unique in the fact of who he is as a person. Again, he’s a father, he’s older, he’s wiser. To your point, he’s spent years doing this and then he hung it up. He’s a husband, he’s a principal. He is a man of man colors, no pun intended. That’s what makes him so identifiable so you can relate to him. His uniqueness doesn’t just rely on the fact that he’s a black superhero; his uniqueness is that he’s as human as everybody in America. That’s what makes him a beautiful character to explore."
When asked what Black Lightning's tonal and thematic differences to the other CW DC shows could mean for a possible crossover, Akil said, "Yeah, I’m not opposed to it at all."
At this point, it's fair to assume that Black Lightning will cross over with the other DC TV shows at some point. However, it's also possible that Jefferson's first interactions with the other Arrowverse heroes may not be in one of the massive team-up annuals since the series likely won't premiere until after this season's highly-anticipated four-series crossover event.
At the same time, it's clear that Black Lightning will be a much smaller and more intimate series than any of those other shows are, with the new series taking an on-the-street approach to its story in an even more literal way than Arrow's first two seasons did. In many ways, not only does that feel like the right approach for this series to be taking, but it also injects yet another distinct tonal series into the The CW's superhero lineup, which has done a fairly successful job up until this point at giving each of its series their own look and feel. And as of right now, it doesn't look like there's any reason to think Black Lightning won't just continue that success streak.
Black Lightning premieres midseason 2018 on The CW.