Despite Reservations Black Lightning Really Delivered
Seeing the initial information for The CW’s newest DC comic series, Black Lightning, I was a little skeptical. I’m a big fan of Cress Williams’ previous work (Friday Night Lights, Living Single, ER), but seeing him in the glowing super suit wasn’t really reassuring. Damn, was I wrong? The pilot episode of Black Lightning seemed like the CW took everything they learned from the success of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and crafted a nice 42-minute episode that was both action-packed and moving. The acting is topnotch, and the story was grounded in reality, keeping this superpowered hero on the street level without feeling unrelatable.
There’s a lot that could’ve gone wrong, being a show based in an African American microcosm. In the current social/political climate, it would be more than easy to go over the top and overdose on drugs, thugs, and police bashing. But the showrunners do a good job of presenting the current struggle in African American communities.. mainly showing how the people inside these communities are dealing with the aspects of drugs and violence and not just having a Black man in a costume swooping in and unrealistically cleaning up the streets.
Don’t get me wrong, this show is not perfect. No pilot is. There’s a lot they needed to fit into less than an hour of content. Establishing characters, plot, and leading the audience to tune in the following week. What I see is a very ground story about a former hero who’s trying to live his life, raise his family, but at the same time be a force for justice in his community. Saying Black Lightning is a take on The Dark Knight Returns can be argued. It’s going to be interesting seeing where the series is by the end of Season 1.