Superhero drama Black Lightning may be produced by Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl) and it may air on The CW, but you'll be disappointed if you were looking for Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) to battle villains like Damien Darhk or go up against aliens or beings from an alternate universe.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Williams explains, “The conflict here is not necessarily saving the world or battling aliens,” when it comes to his heroic actions, he says, “It really is looking at real-life problems in an actual city, in an actual neighborhood and trying to conquer those problems — i.e., drugs and corruption, gun violence, police violence, and just oppression that happens below the poverty line.”
In fact, Pierce isn't interested in being a hero at all, which is what makes Black Lightning so interesting.
When we meet Pierce, his wife Lynn (Christine Adams), and his daughters Jennifer (China Anne McClain) and Anissa (Nafeesa Williams), he's given up crimefighting in favor of family life and a job as a principal at a charter school. But real life seems determined to pull him back into his role as the famed Black Lightning.
Showrunner Salim Akil and his wife, executive Mara Brock Akil also want to make sure Black Lightning is accessible for any viewer, saying, “I wanted every person — Hispanic, white, black, Asian, whoever you are — to be able to recognize yourself.”
There is, however, an Arrowverse theme he's keeping, “What [those shows] do really well is to lead you on a journey to a crescendo." Akil says, in previous dramatic and comedic projects he, ..."didn’t necessarily lead to a crescendo. We led to a resolution. That’s what you do in dramas. But here, we’re leading to a crescendo.”
Black Lightning premieres Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 9 p.m. (after The Flash) on The CW.