Filming is underway in Atlanta, Ga. on a pilot for The CW’s next superhero show, “Black Lightning” and the first look at the costumed vigilante himself has been revealed. While the network has not ordered “Black Lightning” to series yet, based on this image alone the show is already taking the look of the “Arrow”-verse to the next level.
Designed by Laura Jean Shannon, who previously worked on projects ranging from “Good Girls Revolt” to “Iron Man,” this costume, work by “Hart of Dixie” alum Cress Williams — playing the role of Black Lightning and his alter ego Jefferson Pierce — has a very different feel from what is normally seen on shows like “The Flash,” “Supergirl” and “Arrow.” The “Iron Man” influence is obvious and should he helpful in carving a new path for CW superhero stories.
Given the story of “Black Lightning,” it’s reassuring that the show is looking at taking its own path.A short description of the series reads, “Jefferson Pierce made his choice: he hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with one daughter hell-bent on justice and the other a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend — Black Lightning.” The character was actually the first black superhero to be given his own comic book in the DC Universe, which is something executive producer, pilot writer and director Salim Akil was thankful for.
“I knew way too much about the world as a young boy growing up in Richmond, California. I was no stranger to violence, death, hopelessness or the feeling that no one cared about what was happening in my life,” he says in a release. “Comics were a great way for me to escape. 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.”
According to Akil, there’s no better time than the present to bring the character back, introducing him on a much larger scale. “Resurrecting him at a time in our society when a sense of hope is lacking … ‘Black Lightning’ will be that hope,” he says. “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.”
What’s interesting about “Black Lightning” is it’s not just the costume that sets it apart from the rest of The CW’s superhero shows. It’s the first time in the “Arrow”-verse that a series has focused on someone who isn’t young caucasian. Williams is 46 years old, which isn’t exactly the main demographic for the network. While “Arrow” and “The Flash” do include older characters — from John Diggle (David Ramsey) to HR (Tom Cavanagh), it’s rarely as the series lead.
With production on the pilot underway, it now becomes a waiting game for fans to see if The CW decides to order a full series of the show — which would presumably debut in the fall of 2017 or spring of 2018.