The CW has grown its own DC Comics television series over the past few years. After Arrow debuted, Central City CSI tech Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) was introduced and spun off into his own series on The Flash, followed by The CW bringing together characters from each of their established series for the ensemble superhero time travel show, Legends of Tomorrow. Then last year, the network acquired Supergirl, which had debuted and aired its first season on CBS, bringing The CW's superhero series up to a total of four. However, another is set to join them soon enough: Black Lightning.
Originally in the works at Fox, Black Lightning is being developed for TV by Mara Brock Akil and her husband/partner Salim Akil (The Game, Being Mary Jane) along with Arrowverse architect Greg Berlanti. The CW ordered Black Lightning to pilot earlier this year, later casting Hart of Dixie's Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce, the titular superhero. Now, we have our first look at the actor suited up as Black Lightning.
DC Comics debuted the poster of Williams suited up as Black Lightning, released by The CW and Warner Bros. Television. The costume was created by Laura Jean Shannon (Jumanji, Iron Man), and follows the style of many CW superhero suits in that it looks a great deal like Black Lightning's comic book counterpart, but with some updates.
Created in 1977 by by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden, Black Lightning is the first African American superhero to lead his own comic book title. The CW's Black Lightning series, however, will find Jefferson Pierce at a time in his life after he decided to hang up the suit. That is, until one of his daughters - Jennifer (China Anne McClain) and Anissa (Nafessa Williams) - becomes hellbent on justice and one of his star students is recruited by a local gang. Salim Akil spoke of his own history with the Black Lightning character and Jefferson Pierce's updated suit:
“I was about 13 when Black Lightning was created, and finally there was a Black Super Hero that gave a damn about our neighborhood and our lives. Resurrecting him at a time in our society when a sense of hope is lacking...Black Lightning will be that hope. And in updating the suit, it will signal to a new generation that it’s time to harness and release our power, and become our own Super Heroes.”
Already, Black Lightning is set to be a new kind of superhero show on The CW. Though Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is arguably an older superhero, much of Arrow - and the rest of the network's lineup of comic book programming - has followed the main character's arc to becoming the hero fans know. Black Lightning, on the other hand, will see a retired superhero get back into the game, which will no doubt offer a much different dynamic.
Still, you wouldn't know Jefferson Pierce has been retired from vigilantism based on his suit, which looks like many of The CW's fellow superhero outfits in that it adapts the comic book costume to a sleek, modern, and relatively practical armor. It follows the same rough design as Black Lightning's costume from the comics, with the lightning symbols on his chest piece, but features circuitry details on the arms that are wholly new, referencing the character's lightning powers.
As for his powers, it seems The CW's iteration of the character may follow the original comic book canon, in which Jefferson drew his lightning ability from a belt that he could use to project shields or throw lightning bolts. The character was later established to be a metahuman with abilities, but since Williams' suit features what appears to be a power source in his belt, it may be that the series is adapting the early explanation for his abilities.
Black Lightning premieres on The CW at an unspecified date.
Source: DC Comics