Black Lightning is more than just a show about a Black superhero.
When I saw the first trailer for Black Lightning, I was excited. Admittedly, I had a crush on Cress Williams ever since he played Scooter on Living Single (yeah, I'm showing my age). Not only does Cress do an amazing job as the title hero, Black Lightning aka Principal Jefferson Pierce, but Salim Akil's writing is on point and the entire cast epitomizes awesome.
Jefferson Pierce is part John Shaft, part, part Joe Clark and part Sgt. Murtaugh. He's suave, intelligent, and gives a damn about his community, looking after former and current students alike, but he's definitely "getting too old for this shit." Sensing a theme?
That's right. The metahuman superhero is older and wiser than his fellow DC heroes. He has a family. There's none of the usual "I'm a hero and therefore, must be alone to keep everyone I care about safe" going on here. He has kids. He has an ex-wife who he gave up Black Lightning for years ago. But now that Black Lightning is back, he's confronting a villain that is very familiar.
Tobias Whale, played by rapper/actor Marvin Jones III aka Krondon is Black Lightning's arch-nemesis. They've been enemies ever since Pierce was a teacher who stood up to him. Whale is a former politician who rose through the ranks of the criminal underground and took over.
One of Whale's lieutenants, Lala was a student of Pierce's back in the day. Lala now leads The 100 Gang. Lala's young cousin, Will, meets Pierce's youngest daughter while at a club. Will, also a villain, has some business to square away with Lala, but that all goes sour and Black Lightning has to reemerge to rescue his daughter. When Whale finds out that Black Lightning has resurfaced, his obsession with the hero who almost stopped his business resurfaces. It's not just about business; it's definitely personal. Krondon's performance is scary good--reminiscent of the ruthless gangsters of the 70s, 80s and 90s.
And rightly so. Black Lightning was created in 1977 during the Blaxploitation film era that burst onto the scene when drugs were being pumped into Black communities and gangs began to sprout up like weeds being fed plant food. Black communities needed heroes like Shaft, Luke Cage (first comic appearance in 1972) and Black Lightning. Black Lightning, being the family man that he is, instilled his passion for helping onto his daughters Anissa and Jennifer. In the comics, they are also metahumans who go by Thunder (Anissa) and Lightning (Jennifer). The show is only two episodes into the season, but so far, Anissa has only just discovered that she has abilities. Jennifer hasn't.
One recurring request from comics fans is that they get to see Static appear in the show. Creator Tony Isabella doesn't want Black Lightning and Static to be in the same show. And for very good reason. Both Black Lightning and Static are powerful heroes. Having them both on the same show would either relegate Static to a type of sidekick or Have Black Lightning taking on a mentor-type of role.
BUT Static Shock will be coming to life. That's right. Dabier, who plays Will in Black Lightning will be playing Static Shock in a standalone show in 2019.
Does this mean that Static Shock will have gotten his superpowers from Black Lightning and not a chemical accident like in the comics? Will there be a funeral for Will where we learn that his name is full name is Virgil Ovid "Will" Hawkins? I mean, what teenage boy wants to walk around being called Virgil? Virgil doesn't exactly say "gangsta" or "thug life." Who knows!
I only know I'm excited for this show and can't wait to see more from DCU and Warner Bros. There's something almost nostalgic and feel-good about Black Lightning. We're rooting for the family man, the principal and the hero. We're rooting for the family to kick ass together.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW. Check your local listings for time zones.