The CW has added yet another super hero show to its line-up with the introduction of “Black Lightning” recently. Although, I knew nothing of this super hero going into it, from the teasers I have to say I was not excited about this particular show. I was worried it would be cheesy and poorly executed. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the series premiere and have high hopes for a new kind of realistic super hero drama. So far the show has proved relevant, exciting and definitely something that needs to be written about in today’s society. Cress Williams (formerly of Hart of Dixie) plays Black Lightning. I liked Cress Williams in his previous CW show, and was very pleased with his performance in the series premiere of this show as well. James Remar is also cast as a sort of “Alfred” character in his relationship to Black Lightning. Having another powerful African American super hero on the scene is definitely long overdo. “Luke Cage” did well on Netflix, and ‘The Black Panther” movie will be making its premiere soon, but there is nothing on mainstream television that speaks to the current social and political climate that has been at the forefront of so much current news and events. And so much still needs to be said, so it was refreshing to see it tackled head on.
The writers were able to take a character that is not super well known as far as a mainstream super hero, and transformed him into a modern-day seeker of justice in a real world setting , in which so many have lost hope. What is especially clever about this new series is that it is not a story of a hero finding his powers for the first time. Its not a emergence story. Its a “re-emergence story”. It is the story of a father who put his powers behind him and went on to have a life and a career without his powers. One where he could make a difference legally. But he is sucked back into using his powers again when his daughters lives are at stake, and he doesn’t believe the law can save them. Jefferson Pierce (aka Black Lightning) is a high school principal who tries to inspire kids to be better and do better in a tough neighborhood that is being overridden by gangs and police violence. What is interesting about his powers is that not only does he use them again after a 9 year hiatus, but that his oldest daughter starts to manifest powers as well. We don’t yet know what her powers will be or if the younger daughter will manifest powers as well, but keeping it all in the family is an interesting twist!
So much of the CW’s super heroes are semi-fantastical. Although we love The Flash, Arrow and SuperGirl–the cities and environments they live in are not exactly realistic or plausible. So we suspend our disbelief and just enjoy their powers, fantastic story lines and moments of humanity. But creating a super hero who lives in the real world–one in which we see stories of gangs, police brutality and injustices happening every day–creates a whole new kind of faith and hope in what OUR world could be like. Not sure what this first season will hold for Black Lightning, or how it will hold up to other new-comers and series, but the first episode is definitely off to a great start!