The CW's superhero lineup will soon get stronger with the addition of Black Lightning, which follows the story of a retired superhero who must become Black Lightning once again to combat the rise of crime and violence in his community. Making a superhero show is never easy, but showrunner Salim Akil found his own challenges in creating this new series. As far as Akil was concerned, he was making a family drama and thus had a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that his main character can blast lightning from his fingertips.
I'm not really doing a show about a superhero. I'm doing a show about a man who has a family and is trying to affect his community. Someone asked me, what's the most difficult aspect of doing the show, and it really is me coming to terms with that he has powers, because I could write a whole script without him ever using his powers, which nobody wants me to do.
One would think there's a long list of challenges and reasons why making a superhero show is difficult, from the various special effects to the costumes. For Salim Akil, though, making Black Lightning was more demanding from the conceptual standpoint. As Akil told an assemblage of reporters (via ComicBook) on the set of Black Lightning, he would have been fine writing entire episodes without his main character blasting lightning from his hands, among other super-talents. The emotional core of the show is about a man and his family, and to Alim, the powers come second.
That's definitely an approach that will benefit Black Lightning in the long run. The drama and characters taking precedence just makes for better storytelling, but Salim Akil is also correct in saying that, on show about a guy with lightning powers, they do need to show those powers on a regular basis, if not necessarily in every episode. Here, the violence isn't meant to be over the top like it is on Arrow, for example, and there will be some realism to it.
Black Lightning follows Cress Williams' Jefferson Pierce, a school principal and retired superhero who must don his costume once again to combat the rise of crime in his community. The show is not connected to the larger Arrow-verse at the moment, and instead differs from those shows by presenting an older hero and covering some different subject matter. But maybe they'll all come together one day.
Black Lightning airs its first episode on January 16, 2018, at 9 p.m. ET on the CW. There are plenty of other TV show dropping over the next few weeks in the new year, too, and you can learn about them all with our midseason premiere guide. Not everything is coming back though, so visit our cancellation guide to see what definitely won't be back.