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Black Lightning is an American superhero television drama series developed by Salim Akil, airing on The CW. It is based on the DC Comics character of the same name, created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. It stars Cress Williams as the titular character alongside China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin Jones III, Damon Gupton, James Remar, and Jordan Calloway. The series sees the retired Black Lightning return to the hero life and its effects on his family life.

Black Lightning
Black Lightning (TV series).png
Genre
Based on
Developed bySalim Akil
Starring
Opening theme"Black Lightning" by Godholly
Composer(s)Kurt Farquhar[1]
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes29 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Robert West
Production location(s)Atlanta, Georgia
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time42 minutes
Production company(s)
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkThe CW
Original releaseJanuary 16, 2018 (2018-01-16) –
present (present)
External links
Website
Production website

Development on the series began in September 2016 when Fox ordered a pilot production commitment for Black Lightning. In February 2017, Fox passed on the series, with it being picked up by The CW with a new script for the pilot. The CW officially ordered the series in May 2017. The first season premiered on January 16, 2018, for a 13-episode run. On April 2, 2018, The CW renewed the show for a second season, which premiered on October 9, 2018. On January 31, 2019, The CW renewed the series for a third season.

Contents

PremiseEdit

High school principal Jefferson Pierce, who retired from his superhero persona Black Lightning nine years ago after seeing the effects it had on his family, is forced to become a vigilante again when the rise of the local gang called the 100 led by Tobias Whale leads to increased crime and corruption in his community of Freeland.[2]

In season two, as Black Lightning continues his feud with Tobias Whale, he and his family deal with the arising anti-superhuman bigotry within their community after its metahuman members' existences are exposed.

Cast and charactersEdit

  • Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce / Black Lightning: A retired superhero with the ability to harness and manipulate electricity who works as the Principal of Garfield High School. He returns to fighting crime after his daughters are kidnapped by a local gang.[3][2] Kaden Washington Lewis portrays teenage Jefferson Pierce.
  • China Anne McClain as Jennifer Pierce / Lightning: Jefferson's younger daughter, who is "an independent, outspoken scholar-athlete with a wild streak of her own",[4] who also possesses powers where her cells start generating energy; her electric power is orange unlike her father's which is blue.[5]
  • Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce / Thunder: Jefferson's elder daughter who is in medical school and teaches part-time at Jefferson's school.[4] Anissa is a metahuman like her father, having an ability to manipulate her density with her breathing and emotions, endowing herself with superhuman strength and durability. She can also create powerful shockwaves against her opponents with this power during combat. In addition, she has an accelerated healing factor. She eventually fights crime as Thunder,[5] and later becomes her father's protégée and partner. Describing her character as a positive role model, Williams said "I'm just really grateful to tell the story for young lesbians — and black lesbians in particular ... My hope is that when you watch Anissa, a young lesbian is inspired to walk boldly as who she is and to love herself and to love herself exactly how she looks."[6]
  • Christine Adams as Lynn Stewart: A neuroscientist at Bowman College and Jefferson's ex-wife.[7]
  • Marvin "Krondon" Jones III as Tobias Whale: A former politician who rose through the ranks of local government through corruption but was brought down by Jefferson's father, Alvin. After killing Alvin, Tobias was exiled and became the leader of the 100.[8] Despite being Black Lightning's chief adversary and wanting to kill him, Whale becomes involved with the A.S.A.'s efforts to capture and study him.
  • Damon Gupton as Bill Henderson: A veteran detective inspector with the police who becomes an unlikely ally to Jefferson, despite his role in the community. After exposing the dirty Deputy Chief, Cayman, he is appointed to replace him.[9] Henderson eventually learns that Jefferson is Black Lightning, fracturing their relationship.[10]
  • James Remar as Peter Gambi: Jefferson's oldest friend who became a father figure and mentor to him and works as his "tailor" while having connections with Lady Eve. His real name is Peter Esposito and was a former member of the A.S.A. until he turned against the organization and gave information to Alvin Pierce, resulting in his murder.[9]
  • Jordan Calloway as Khalil Payne / Painkiller (season 2; recurring, season 1): A track star at Garfield High and Jennifer's ex-boyfriend. After a bullet from Syonide's gun paralyzes him from the waist down, he becomes involved with Tobias Whale where he undergoes an experimental treatment done by the A.S.A. involving a spinal implant that gives him enhanced abilities, becomes a cyborg in the process. Tobias Whale is the one who names Khalil's new form of Painkiller.[11]

EpisodesEdit

Season 1 (2018)Edit

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
11"The Resurrection"Salim AkilSalim AkilJanuary 16, 2018 (2018-01-16)T43.100012.31[12]
22"Lawanda: The Book of Hope"Oz ScottSalim AkilJanuary 23, 2018 (2018-01-23)T43.100021.94[13]
33"Lawanda: The Book of Burial"Mark TonderaiJan NashJanuary 30, 2018 (2018-01-30)T43.100032.21[14]
44"Black Jesus"Michael SchultzPat CharlesFebruary 6, 2018 (2018-02-06)T43.100041.88[15]
55"And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light"Rose TrocheAdam GiaudroneFebruary 13, 2018 (2018-02-13)T43.100051.81[16]
66"Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder"Benny BoomCharles HollandFebruary 27, 2018 (2018-02-27)T43.100061.64[17]
77"Equinox: The Book of Fate"Bille WoodruffLamont MageeMarch 6, 2018 (2018-03-06)T43.100071.46[18]
88"The Book of Revelations"Tanya HamiltonJan NashMarch 13, 2018 (2018-03-13)T43.100081.45[19]
99"The Book of Little Black Lies"Tawnia McKernanKeli GoffMarch 20, 2018 (2018-03-20)T43.100091.55[20]
1010"Sins of the Father: The Book of Redemption"Eric LaneuvillePat CharlesMarch 27, 2018 (2018-03-27)T43.100101.55[21]
1111"Black Jesus: The Book of Crucifixion"Michael SchultzMelora RiveraApril 3, 2018 (2018-04-03)T43.100111.50[22]
1212"The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain"Oz ScottJan Nash & Adam GiaudroneApril 10, 2018 (2018-04-10)T13.100121.54[23]
1313"Shadow of Death: The Book of War"Salim AkilCharles D. HollandApril 17, 2018 (2018-04-17)T43.100131.68[24]

Season 2 (2018–19)Edit

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
141"The Book of Consequences: Chapter One: Rise of the Green Light Babies"Salim AkilSalim AkilOctober 9, 2018 (2018-10-09)T43.100511.16[25]
152"The Book of Consequences: Chapter Two: Black Jesus Blues"Oz ScottCharles D. HollandOctober 16, 2018 (2018-10-16)T43.100521.02[26]
163"The Book of Consequences: Chapter Three: Master Lowry"Rose TrocheJan NashOctober 23, 2018 (2018-10-23)T43.100531.18[27]
174"The Book of Consequences: Chapter Four: Translucent Freak"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldAdam GiaudroneOctober 30, 2018 (2018-10-30)T43.100540.97[28]
185"The Book of Blood: Chapter One: Requiem"Michael SchultzLamont MageeNovember 13, 2018 (2018-11-13)T43.100550.90[29]
196"The Book of Blood: Chapter Two: The Perdi"Oz ScottPat CharlesNovember 20, 2018 (2018-11-20)T43.100560.99[30]
207"The Book of Blood: Chapter Three: The Sange"Eric LaneuvilleKeli GoffNovember 27, 2018 (2018-11-27)T43.100571.06[31]
218"The Book of Rebellion: Chapter One: Exodus"Tawnia McKiernanJake WallerDecember 4, 2018 (2018-12-04)T43.100580.96[32]
229"The Book of Rebellion: Chapter Two: Gift of Magi"Benny BoomAdam GiaudroneDecember 11, 2018 (2018-12-11)T43.100591.13[33]
2310"The Book of Rebellion: Chapter Three: Angelitos Negros"Salim AkilJan Nash & J. Allen BrownJanuary 21, 2019 (2019-01-21)T43.100600.86[34]
2411"The Book of Secrets: Chapter One: Prodigal Son"Rob HardyPat CharlesJanuary 28, 2019 (2019-01-28)T43.100610.93[35]
2512"The Book of Secrets: Chapter Two: Just and Unjust"Jeff ByrdCharles D. HollandFebruary 4, 2019 (2019-02-04)T43.100620.95[36]
2613"The Book of Secrets: Chapter Three: Pillar of Fire"Robert TownsendLamont MageeFebruary 11, 2019 (2019-02-11)T43.100630.94[37]
2714"The Book of Secrets: Chapter Four: Original Sin"Oz ScottPat Charles & Keli GoffMarch 4, 2019 (2019-03-04)T43.100640.77[38]
2815"The Book of the Apocalypse: Chapter One: The Alpha"Salim AkilJan NashMarch 11, 2019 (2019-03-11)T43.100650.75[39]
2916"The Book of the Apocalypse: Chapter Two: The Omega"Salim AkilCharles D. HollandMarch 18, 2019 (2019-03-18)T43.100660.85[40]

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

In September 2016, after being in various stages of development, Warner Bros. Television began pitching Black Lightning to networks.[41] The project was being developed by Mara Brock Akil and her husband, Salim Akil. They were partnered with Greg Berlanti, who was behind several DC Comics properties for the studio, eventually landing at Fox with a pilot production commitment.[42] In February 2017, Fox opted not to go forward with the project, deciding that it was "not a good fit into its already crowded genre drama space".[43] Warner Bros. Television presented the project to other networks, with The CW officially ordering a pilot for Black Lightning.[44] The CW also opted to discard the original pilot script, as it had been written for Fox, and shoot a short presentation instead.[45] The CW officially ordered Black Lightning to series on May 10, 2017.[46]

On April 2, 2018, The CW renewed the show for a second season, which premiered on October 9, 2018.[47][48] On January 31, 2019, The CW renewed the series for a third season.[49]

WritingEdit

Salim Akil stated that Black Lightning would not follow the villain of the week format or be a procedural, because he wanted to "explore the characters, even the villains".[50]

CastingEdit

In late February 2017, Cress Williams was cast as Jefferson Pierce / Black Lightning,[3] followed a month later by the casting of China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams as his daughters, Jennifer Pierce and Anissa Pierce, respectively,[4] and Christine Adams was cast as Lynn Pierce, Jefferson's ex-wife.[7] At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that James Remar and Damon Gupton had joined the cast as Pierce's friend Peter Gambi and detective inspector Henderson, respectively.[9] The following month, Marvin "Krondon" Jones III of the hip hop group Strong Arm Steady was cast as Tobias Whale.[8]

At the end of September 2017, Kyanna Simone Simpson was cast as the recurring role Kiesha.[51] The following month, Edwina Findley joined the cast as Tori Whale,[52] while Chantal Thuy was cast as Grace Choi.[53] In January 2018, it was revealed that Skye Marshall had been cast as Mrs. Fowdy.[54]

DesignEdit

Black Lightning's costume was designed by Laura Jean Shannon.[55]

FilmingEdit

Filming for the series takes place in Atlanta.[2][56] Filming for the first season began August 14, 2017.[57] Filming for the second season began June 28, 2018[58]

MusicEdit

Kurt Farquhar composes the score for the series while Godholly provides original music for the series. These tracks include "Black Lightning", "Power", "Green Light", "Welcome to Freeland", "Can't Go" and "Thunder". Kier Lehman is the show's music supervisor and responsible for the songs used in the show.[citation needed]

ReleaseEdit

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD and Blu-ray release dates
First aired Last aired Timeslot (EST) Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 13 January 16, 2018 (2018-01-16) April 17, 2018 (2018-04-17) Tuesday 9:00 pm July 26, 2018[59] January 28, 2019[60] 2018[61]
2 16 October 9, 2018 (2018-10-09) March 18, 2019 (2019-03-18) Tuesday 9:00 pm (1–9)
Monday 9:00 pm (10–16)[62]
TBA TBA TBA

BroadcastEdit

Black Lightning began airing on The CW in the United States on January 16, 2018 during the 2017–18 television season.[63] The first season consisted of 13 episodes and ran until April 17, 2018.[64] The second season premiered on The CW in the United States on October 9, 2018.[65] In November, it was announced that the series would move to airing on Mondays for the second half of the season after previously airing on Tuesdays since its debut.[66] The 16th and final episode of the second season aired on March 18, 2019.[67]

Netflix, which owns the international distribution and streaming rights for Black Lightning, airs new episodes of the series weekly in regions outside of the United States, including Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, most of mainland Europe, and South America. Each season is released on Netflix in the United States one week after the season finale airs on The CW.[68][69]

Home mediaEdit

The first season was released on Blu-ray and DVD in Region 1 on June 26, 2018.[59]

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has received a 96% approval rating, with an average rating of 8.35/10, based on 48 reviews.[70] The website's critical consensus reads, "Black Lightning doesn't reinvent superhero TV, but it does give the genre a necessary jolt with real-world plots, scary new villains, and a star-making performance from Cress Williams."[70] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 79 out of 100 based on reviews from 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[71]

Daniel Fienberg, in a review for The Hollywood Reporter, praised the series for being "smart and relevant and full of an attitude that's all its own."[72] Nafessa Williams's portrayal of Thunder has received praise for being the first representation of a black lesbian superhero on television.[73][74][75]

AccoladesEdit

Year Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
2018 People's Choice Awards The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show of 2018 Black Lightning Shortlisted [76]
Saturn Awards Best Superhero Television Series Black Lightning Nominated [77]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Breakout TV Show Black Lightning Nominated [78]
Choice Breakout TV Star Nafessa Williams Nominated
2019 GLAAD Awards Outstanding Drama Series Black Lightning Pending [79]

Connection to the ArrowverseEdit

Despite airing on The CW and being created by Berlanti, Mark Pedowitz, president of The CW said in May 2017 that the series "at this time, is not part of the Arrowverse. It is a separate situation."[2] Berlanti had previously stated when the series was in development at Fox that it would not crossover with his other DC Comics television properties on The CW nor would it exist in the Arrowverse.[80] Akil later stated that they were not ruling out eventual crossovers.[50] In August 2017, Pedowitz added, "If [the showrunners] wish to bring it in, that is their call. We had a long discussion with the studio, Mara, Salim, and myself. We were fine with them making it separate from the Arrowverse, they have a different point of view. If they end up wanting to go that way, that will be their decision."[81] Salim Akil noted references in the first season to the Arrowverse heroes Vixen and Supergirl were a "fun" way "to tease the fans". He also further reiterated that the series existed on a separate Earth from the other Arrowverse series (like Earth-1 from The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow and Earth-38 from Supergirl) and was hopeful that any future crossover would involve the heroes of the other series visiting the Earth that is associated with Black Lightning.[82]

ReferencesEdit

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