Continuing his emphasis on diversity, Greg Berlanti is teaming up with husband and wife creative team Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil to bring a black superhero to television, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show will focus on DC Comics superhero Black Lightning, who can generate and control lightning.
Meet Black Lightning
Black Lightning a.k.a. Jefferson Pierce made his debut in 1977 as DC Comics’s first headlining black superhero, so it’s fitting that he will continue that legacy in TV. Deadline describes the character as a retired hero who gets pulled back into the fight and into vigilantism.
The description also mentions a daughter and ties to a star student, who is being recruited by a local gang. In the comics, the hero had two daughters, who both eventually became superheroes: Thunder, a member of the Outsiders, and Lightning, a member of the Justice Society of America.
Black Lightning himself also has a distinguished pedigree as a hero who worked closely with the Justice League, particularly Green Arrow.
Where will Black Lightning End Up?
Since Berlanti is a key figure in the CW’s Arrowverse, having created all of the channel’s current superhero shows, it’s no surprise that Black Lightning could easily fit into the current DC Comics television lineup.
However, as a presumably middle-aged hero, Black Lightning doesn’t seem well suited for the CW’s demographic of mostly teenagers and young adults. Deadline says the show is being pitched to networks, so it could end up almost anywhere.
If picked up, the superhero show would be the first on a network to feature a black lead. Marvel, of course, has Luke Cage premiering on Netflix later this month.
Berlanti and the Akils have been highly successful in pitching shows in the past. The Akils created the long-running shows Girlfriends, The Game, and Being Mary Jane. In addition to the Arrowverse, Berlanti executive produced hit show Blindspot and will see yet another CW show, Riverdale, premiere soon.
It’s almost a given that Black Lightning will find a home somewhere, with creators like these.
The only question that remains is how much being on a different channel – which is likely though not a done deal – could affect Black Lightning. Would it be related to its Arrowverse siblings or more of its own thing, like Fox’s Gotham? Of course, the show could always pull a Supergirl if it has to.
No matter where it ends up, Black Lightning is sure to make an exciting addition to the DC Comics shows already on TV.