The CW is the place to be on the small screen when it comes to live adaptations of comic book characters, and super-producer Greg Berlanti has a new DC TV series in the works. Black Lightning earned a pilot order at The CW, and we now know who will play the lead role. Cress Williams will return to The CW for the first time since Hart of Dixie ended on the network in 2015 to star in Black Lightning.
Cress Williams will play Jefferson Pierce, who THR reports once lived the exciting life of the superhero Black Lightning. Jefferson decided to leave the superhero life (and suit) behind many years ago to live a quieter life as an educator. Unfortunately for that quiet life, Jefferson's daughter has developed a passion for enacting justice, and one of his star students was recruited by a gang. He'll find himself drawn back into the life of a vigilante as Black Lightning.
In DC Comics lore, Black Lightning can generate, absorb, and direct electricity, which he uses in a variety of ways to take down his opponents. He originally used an electric power built to access his powers, but he later gained the ability to work as Black Lightning without the belt. Although Jefferson Pierce gave up his work as a superhero after the birth of his daughter so that he could provide her with a normal and less dangerous life, the family dynamic changed when she began to show signs of metahuman abilities.
Black Lightning became a member of such groups as the Outsiders and the Justice League, and he led a pretty epic life as a superhero, but it sounds like The CW's Black Lightning will focus - at least in the beginning - on his life as a father and civilian. The comic character was primarily based out of Metropolis; we'll have to wait and see if The CW will set the show there or in a different locale.
Personally, I won't be surprised if Black Lightning is based out of another city of DC Comics fame. Metropolis will always be associated with Superman, and Black Lightning might be better off giving Jefferson his own city. Some comic fans might not be too happy if the show takes such a major liberty with the iconic hero's story, but comic fans are a relatively small chunk of CW viewership, and I'd say that Black Lightning deserves a fresh start without the question of Superman in the mix.
The biggest question about Black Lightning at this point might be whether or not it is set in the same universe as Earth-1's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Earth-38's Supergirl. Jefferson could certainly live on any of the Earths in The CW's DC multiverse, which would open the door for crossovers between any and all of the five comic-based shows. Then again, it could simply exist in an entirely different universe with no connections at all to Arrow or any of the other shows.
We'll have to wait and see. At least we can be sure that Cress Williams will almost certainly prove to be a solid leading man for Black Lightning. He has a wide variety of experience on the small screen, with roles on shows ranging from Prison Break to Friday Night Lights to Hart of Dixie, and he has appeared a handful of times on CBS' Code Black over the past couple of years . He should have what it takes to bring a brand new kind of superhero to The CW, and I'm looking forward to see what he does with the character of Jefferson Pierce.
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