The #Arrowverse just gained a new hero: Black Lightning is coming to The CW, with the network ordering a pilot based on the DC character. While he may not be as well-known as some of DC’s other heroes, Black Lightning — who debuted in 1977 — has major historical importance. Just like Luke Cage, he inspired the development of other African-American heroes.
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- Everything You Need To Know About Luke Cage
Now, decades later, The CW's Black Lightning is joining Netflix's Luke Cage as one of the first superhero shows to have an African-American lead. While the latter has already captivated fans, here's why Black Lightning is equally right for the moment.
1. Black Lightning Was Created By A Luke Cage Writer
Black Lightning was one of #DC’s first African-American superheroes, created by Tony Isabella, who had already written stories for Luke Cage in Hero for Hire and Power Man. So maybe it's fitting for Black Lightning to follow in Luke Cage's footsteps again!
There are multiple versions of Black Lightning, but here's his basic origin story: Jefferson Michael Pierce is from Metropolis' Suicide Slums, and wins an Olympic Gold Medal as a decathlete. He becomes an educator who moonlights as the meta-human crime fighter Black Lightning. His goal is to take the streets back from his archnemesis, a ruthless gang leader named Tobias Whale.
Jefferson was married to Lynn Stewart, but they divorced due to his super-heroics; they have two daughters, Anissa Pierce (Thunder) and Jennifer Pierce (Lightning). Black Lightning is a member of the Batman-led team The Outsiders, and has also teamed up with Superman.
2. The Arrowverse's Other Black Heroes Can't Compete
I don’t mean to discredit Arrow’s Spartan and Supergirl’s Guardian, but they don’t hold a candle to Luke Cage. Unlike Black Lightning, Spartan and Guardian don’t have the same historical ties to DC Comics. That same historical element is also something Marvel's Luke Cage shares with Black Lightning.
While I like what Arrow did with John Diggle, turning him into Spartan, both the character and the hero alter-ego were made up for the show to give Green #Arrow an extra sidekick. Coincidentally or not, Diggle shares some of the same qualities that exist within Jefferson. Of all the Arrowverse heroes, he’s fighting crime while also balancing a marriage and being a father. Although David Ramsey has done an excellent job with the role, Spartan is nothing more than a sidekick.
#Supergirl’s Guardian (James Olsen) happens to be a DC Comics hero who, like Black Lightning, protects the streets of Suicide Slum, Metropolis. In the comic, it’s not Olsen dawning the Spartan moniker but Jim Harper, a former cop.
Though Supergirl "reverse whitewashed" James/Jimmy to make him an African-American hero, he’s merely just a knockoff wannabe. Martian Manhunter has been depicted as an African-American, John Jones. Still, underneath it all, he’s just a Martian. I give DC credit, but neither hero brings to the table what Black Lightning can.
3. Black Lightning Is A Hero For The Hood
Each of the big three Arrowverse heroes has a city to protect: Arrow has Starling City, #Flash has Central City and Supergirl has National City. However, outside of Arrow’s low-income Glades, our heroes haven’t explored the gritty, poverty-stricken neighborhoods. In fact, Arrow basically annihilated the Glades.
Jefferson Pierce being from the poverty-stricken Metropilis sub-city, Suicide Slums, gives DC and #CW a chance to explore an element that made Luke Cage so popular. Black Lightning could be a hero for the hood, a voice for the voiceless.
Personally, being raised in the not-so-glamorous Miami sub-cities Liberty City and Little Haiti, there weren’t many (if any) heroes that I could relate to. Thanks to Marvel, there is now Luke Cage. The CW has an opportunity with Black Lightning to appeal to the same people who loved Luke Cage for its cultural relevance, references and gritty nature.
While Luke Cage worked in a local Harlem barbershop, Jefferson Pierce is right in the heart of it all as an educator for a low-income school. Jefferson, unlike Luke, has to somehow balance school life with being a hero—along with his family life—in that very environment. Black Lightning has the chance to be everything Luke Cage is and more, as it pertains to the struggles that exist for today's youth.
4. He'll Fit Right Into The Arrowverse Just Like Luke Cage Fits Into The MCU
Like Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, Black Lightning can directly connect with at least one of the shows: Supergirl. How? She has already dropped some nuggets and dragon-sized Easter eggs unintentionally. Supergirl acknowledged the existence of Superman and Metropolis well before Tyler Hoechlin put on the cape. Black Lightning is not only from Metropolis, but he also teamed with Superman to take down Tobias Whale.
Then you have the Guardian, who also happens to be a Suicide Slums city resident and hero. With Kara and Jimmy beefing, could we see him team with another super-powered hero?
There’s also the Arrow connection, thanks to Supergirl acknowledging the existence of Batman during the Supergirl Season 2 episode “The Darkest Place” when Kara mentioned Superman working with a gadget-wielding vigilante with “demons.” As mentioned earlier, Batman was a co-founder — along with Black Lightning — of superhero group the Outsiders, which also featured Arrow alum Katana.
So, you can see how the electrified hero can settle into the Arrowverse smoothly!
Who is your favorite CW hero? Do you think Black Lightning will be as good as Netflix's Luke Cage? Sound off in the comments below!
Should the CW order a full season?