The hints recently dropped by Geoff Johns about a new DC television series coming next year can be interpreted in a number of ways. He could be talking about an existing character getting a new series – such as Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman from Supergirl – or the return of an old character like Constantine. But it seems more likely he’s talking about an ongoing project we already know about, such as the Black Lightning series Deadline reported on.
While both a new Superman series and a returning Constantine series would have tremendous appeal to the DC fan base, we’ve known for months now that a Black Lightning superhero series was being worked on by Greg Berlanti. Berlanti and crew are the same people who brought us all of The CW superhero shows we’ve come to enjoy, including Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.
— Mr. Media podcast (@andelman) December 23, 2016
What Is the ‘Black Lightning’ Series?
The character of Black Lightning was in many ways DC’s response to Marvel’s successful Luke Cage. To a certain extent, the original Black Lightning – like Luke Cage – involved the kind of blaxploitation imagery that was so common in movies, television, and other media of the era.
As first envisioned, Black Lightning was a superhero operating in predominantly black neighborhoods who used technology – in this case a belt – to create electrical fields and electrical energy which he could then use as weapons or for defense.
The character originally left the neighborhood as a young man because of the death of his father, but was eventually inspired by other DC superheroes to become a superhero himself and protect people living in the neighborhood he grew up in. In some ways, the origin story isn’t unlike Batman’s or Spider-Man’s.
Supergirl and Arrow co-creator Greg Berlanti is reportedly developing a series following Black Lightning, one of… https://t.co/ij72AgcznT
— Anton Marks (@AntonMarks) December 21, 2016
More recent recounting of the character has turned him into a meta-human whose powers are an inherent part of his physical body, rather than a piece of technology that he has to wear with him when he combats the bad guys.
The character has been frequently seen on various animated DC series, but he has never appeared in any DC live-action television series or movie. The decision to introduce this superhero will allow DC/Warner Bros. to further expand its already highly diverse roster of superheroes.
Where Will It Air?
Although it might seem like the natural place for Black Lightning would be on The CW so that the character could interact with the vast array of meta-humans and non-meta-human superheroes already appearing on that network, another option would be to put Black Lightning on Fox.
Fox already has the pseudo-Batman series Gotham, and the character of Black Lightning would finally allow them to have a real superhero – since Batman himself never makes an appearance in Gotham. There would even be the possibility for crossover, although that would largely depend on the look and feel that the new Black Lightning series would be going for.
— DCU Movie Page (@dcumoviepage) December 19, 2016
Gotham has a very “Gothic” appearance and might not work as a location – even if he were only visiting – for the character of Black Lightning. In addition, Gotham, while it has allowed super villains to have powers, has yet to allow superheroes of any kind to exist in its universe. Stepping away from that would be a tremendous change for a show that has traditionally stuck to its much more grounded roots.
There’s also the question of whether a new Black Lightning series would use that actual name. Including the word “black” in the name of the character might have worked in the ’70s, but it would be a little iffy in the 21st century. For the sake of avoiding that kind of controversial nomenclature, they might decide to just call the character Lightning.
[Featured Image by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP Images]