We've been hearing rumblings for a while now that DC is working on a new superhero TV series: Black Lightning. Originally picked up by Fox, it's now switched over to The CW and is joining the Arrowverse! Whatever the case may be, the time is right for Black Lightning, and it looks as though the series is about to start filming!
Who is Black Lightning?
Created by writer Tony Isabella with artist Trevor Von Eeden back in 1977, Black Lightning is an important figure in #DC history. At the time, DC was working towards launching their first book with a black main character, and their first ideas had been... well, let's just say weird. DC had come up with the idea for the Black Bomber, a white racist who turned black under stress! Thankfully, the Black Bomber never saw the light of day, and instead Tony Isabella proposed using a character idea he'd toyed with, Black Lightning.
Tony Isabella himself is actually an important figure in comic book history too, particularly when it comes to championing diversity. Isabella had worked with Marvel before heading over to DC. During his time at Marvel, he helmed popular stints on both Luke Cage and Iron Fist; he was the co-creator of Misty Knight, played by Simone Missick in the Luke Cage Netflix series. For DC, he created Black Lightning, the company's first black lead superhero!
A powerful superhero with the ability to manipulate electricity and generates force-fields, Black Lightning's solo book wouldn't last for long, but he'd remain a major player in DC Comics. In 2008, the character rose to prominence during a controversial arc in which Lex Luthor took over as President of the United States; Black Lightning's 'secret identity', Olympic decathlete Jefferson Pierce, was made Secretary of Education!
Why Would This Be A Good Idea?
Black Lightning was a major figure in DC history, adding a much-needed element of diversity to the comics. And the sad truth is that, right now, DCTV needs that same shot of diversity. The Arrowverse has taken into diversity into account when casting their ensembles — they cast actors of color in keys roles like Vixen, Spartan, Kid Flash and Vibe — but it's yet to greenlight a show with a non-white lead. Marvel blazed the trail with the highly successful Luke Cage, and DC needs to step up to the challenge. The issue of diversity is only likely to grow in importance over the next few years as racial tension continues to simmer in the United States — Black Lightning has a chance to both represent an important racial group, and reach a new demographic.
We don't yet know whether or not this series would be part of the #Arrowverse; at one point, we were told that the show had been picked up by Fox, which would have made that unlikely, but it's now being reported that the series has switched over to The CW and is becoming part of the Arrowverse. While I don't think it needs to be - Supergirl Season 1 has proved standalone series can work - it's still pretty exciting news!
It seems that DC agrees that the time is ripe, though. According to My Entertainment World, filming on Black Lightning is due to start in New Orleans in March, so we should surely be expecting some casting news soon!
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The time is right for Black Lightning, one of DC's most important black superheroes. In a time of increasing racial tension, fiction — including superhero fiction — has the power to give us transcendent symbols that can truly stand for something. It's time for DC to up their game, and in so doing prove themselves once again to be a force to be reckoned with!
Are you excited for DC's 'Black Lightning'?
(Source: My Entertainment World; Poll Image Credit: DC Comics)