CW’s Black Lightning is making a mark as one of the few live-action comic book adaptions to feature predominantly Black superheroes. Additionally, instead of battling the usual breed of adversaries — aliens, highly skilled ninjas, metahumans, etc — the family of superheroes tackles worldly issues like drugs and gang violence.
“I didn’t want to be too fantastical because so many people out there are suffering and I felt like they needed a hero,” said showrunner Salim Akil on the decision to incorporate real-life societal issues into the narrative.
Joined by star Cress Williams at Deadline Studio at SXSW, Akil emphasized his desire for the audience “to be concerned about what’s going on in Chicago, what’s going on in Watts, what’s going on in Oakland. I wanted people in those areas to feel like there was someone who was thinking about them and so I wanted the show to reflect that.”
The series, based on the characters from DC created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden, focuses on Jefferson Pierce (Williams), a father of two daughters and principal of a charter high school, who is pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.
“I love that he is flawed,” said Williams. “The old adage goes a lot of times is that villains are the most interesting to play because they’re inherently flawed and but what’s great about Jefferson is that he’s flawed as well and so he’s not just two-dimensional. He’s that three-dimensional being with family ties and his own demons to exercise and so makes him a compelling character.”
Check out the video above to see what Akil has to say about what’s to come in the remainder of the season.
Black Lighting airs Tuesdays on The CW.
The Deadline Studio at SXSW 2018 is presented by MoviePass.