While The CW is home to many DC Comics television shows, the newest addition to the lineup is something we haven’t seen before: a retired superhero. Cress Williams will play Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning, who is a retired superhero that comes out of retirement to take on a nefarious gang known as The One Hundred, who are threatening his family and destroying his city.
With Black Lightning set to debut at Comic-Con this month, we’ve got a ton of questions about The CW’s first African American superhero to headline his/her own show. How is Black Lightning different than the other DCTV fare? What does it look like when a retired superhero comes out of retirement? How important is family? What can we expect from this newest superhero?
Here are five – of many – questions we want answered at San Diego Comic-Con 2017:
1. What does a retired superhero look like?
The CW is no stranger to superheroes roaming its network. But Black Lightning is the first show to bring us a retired superhero who is thrust back into the vigilante game once a nefarious gang puts his family and his city in danger. We’re used to getting younger superheroes as they’re starting out on their hero’s journey. But with Jefferson Pierce, we’re getting someone who has already played this superhero game, stepped down, and is returning. It’s something that I’m really excited to see on screen. Jefferson Pierce already has his origin story, one we’re likely to see play out. Now, it’s about his redemption story. In a way, it’s like fast forwarding through the first few seasons of a superhero show to get to this point. I’m curious to see this new approach where the superhero is returning to being a superhero. Because usually all we see is the superhero becoming the superhero and that’s that. But this is almost like a rebirth, which I’m thrilled to see play out.
2. What will the tone of the show be?
While The CW has a plethora of superhero shows in its lineup, each possesses its own tone and feel that differentiates it from the others. Arrow is dark and gritty. The Flash is more family-friendly. Supergirl is optimistic and hopeful. Legends of Tomorrow is more fun. So what can we expect from Black Lightning? While we know Black Lightning isn’t part of the Arrowverse, it doesn’t mean that it won’t have its own distinct tone that sets it apart from the others. From what we’ve seen in the previews, it looks like Black Lightning will balance grounded and supernatural as the focus is on street violence with a superhero that can control electricity. But it also looks like it’ll be family-centered with Jefferson determined to protect his two daughters from the dangers as they try to fight alongside him. So perhaps Black Lightning will have a little bit of everything?
3. Do the powers run in the family?
While Jefferson Pierce is serving as our titular superhero, Black Lightning, as far as the comics go, Jefferson’s daughters both serve as vigilantes, Thunder and Lightning. Can we expect to see their origin stories hinted at in the pilot and carried on throughout the series? Both Anissa and Jennifer possess extraordinary abilities in the comics, and from what we’ve seen in the trailer already, it certainly looks like those Black Lightning powers run in the family. Perhaps we’ll see them emerge even sooner than we expected? Given the importance it looks like family plays in Black Lightning, it’ll be interesting to see how these powers emerge and how it binds them together as a family. With Jefferson doing all of this to protect his family, especially his daughters, what happens when they want to stand beside him and help fight crime?
4. How will the show look week by week?
With the focus of Black Lightning’s return being the threat of the One Hundred gang, it’ll be interesting to see how Black Lightning approaches things on a week to week basis. Can we expect villains of the week? Or can we expect to see each episode to address certain issues associated with street violence, which is associated with our big bad, The One Hundred? Judging from what we’ve glimpsed from the first look trailer, it looks like Black Lightning has the potential to explore some of the darker, more real elements of street violence, which could give it a broad landscape to explore while also dealing with the bigger issue at hand, The One Hundred.
5. What can we expect from The One Hundred?
As we head into Black Lightning’s pilot (which will debut at SDCC during Preview Night), we already know to expect The One Hundred to be our big bad of the season. The One Hundred is a local gang that plagues Jefferson Pierce’s city. It’s the gang that Black Lightning battled back in the day, as well as the gang that brings him out of retirement. It’s a local gang that runs rampant in the streets bringing violence in its wake. But when Jefferson’s daughters are caught up in the danger, Jefferson realizes it’s time to pick the mantle up once again. The One Hundred is unlike a lot of the big bads we’ve seen on DCTV. They’re not this super being — they’re a street gang that as a unit poses a threat to a city. In a way, it’s more relatable to the real world than speedsters and aliens as a threat. It’ll be interesting to see more about The One Hundred.
Black Lightning will appear at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday at 4:50pm in Ballroom 20. Black Lightning premieres midseason on The CW.