Deadline is reporting that superhero super producer Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Arrow) has teamed up with Being Mary Jane duo Salim and Mara Brock Akil on a drama series based on DC Comics character Black Lightning. The project, whose pilot was penned by the Akils, is currently being shopped to networks.
One of DC’s first major African-American superheroes, Black Lightning follows Jefferson Pierce, a father of two who hung up his secret identity years ago. However, with one daughter hell-bent on justice and another being recruited by a local gang, he’s forced out of retirement and becomes wanted vigilante Black Lightning once again. Aside from a Saturday Night Live parody starring Sinbad at Superman’s funeral, the character has yet to be adapted through live-action television, though he’s appeared in animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice: Invasion, and DC Nation Shorts. Black Lightning first appeared in comics in 1977 where he was created by Tony Isabella for his own self-titled DC Comics series.
The most logical place for Black Lightning to go is The CW, which has (more or less) become the unofficial home for DC’s television projects. Not only has the superhero genre flourished on The CW, diversifying its viewership and garnering positive reception from fans and TV critics alike, it would give the network another drama led by a person of color. The CW has done a fine job in being more inclusive with its casting of supporting roles in recent years, but the fact remains that the network has only one series with a POC in a leading role (Jane the Virgin) and that has to change. What The CW has to worry about, though, is comic oversaturation, particularly when each of their comic shows are interconnected; even with the positives that Black Lightning brings, and how receptive their audience has been to comic shows, how many comic adaptations can they feasibly support at once?
In addition to his role in adapting The Flash and Arrow, Berlanti is also behind Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, with all four shows set to air on The CW this fall. The Akils are known for the nine-season run of CW/BET football dramedy The Game and the eight-season run of UPN comedy Girlfriends; meanwhile, Being Mary Jane, a drama following a successful news anchor in Atlanta, is going into its fourth season.
Would you watch a television adaptation of Black Lightning? Who do you think should be cast as Jefferson? How would you like the show to differ from its comic origins?