‘Black Lightning’ Creator Salim Akil On Tackling Gun Violence And Police Brutality On His Superhero Show

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A lack of black superheroes has been a real problem in Hollywood over the years. But that’s all changing with Marvel getting ready to release Black Panther in theaters and DC Comics launching Black Lightning on The CW. While Black Lightning is an important show for young viewers, creator Salim Akil recently opened up about tackling more controversial subjects on the show, including police brutality and gun violence.

Black Lightning Takes Police Brutality Head On

According to SCPR, Akil knows that there is a delicate balance between entertaining and tackling real-life issues. Black Lightning is a show about an African-American hero named Jefferson Pierce, who works as a school principal by day and is a reluctant crime fighter by night. Jefferson has two daughters, both of whom have superpowers, and one is also lesbian. While these dynamics add depth to the show, Akil knows that he must deal with these issues while entertaining at the same time.

“It is a balance. As real as I want it to feel, I also want to entertain. I want you to have fun. So, what I try to do is use humor and use music to indicate things,” Akil explained. “I just try to entertain on all levels, and so there is humor in the show as well. I mean, it’s a drama. But our humor, you know, is — I guess they call it dark, no pun intended. But yeah, It’s a balance.”

Akil Talks Inspiration Behind Addressing Social Issues On The Show

Akil discussed the inspiration behind his hero being pulled over by the police in the pilot episode. The Black Lightning showrunner explained how black men and women have to put on a mask whenever they get pulled over to avoid being beaten or thrown in jail. This includes being docile and as kind as possible to the officers, who may or may not treat them fairly in return.

He even recalled an event in his past that served as an inspiration for the scene on the show. For Akil, being able to address these types of issues on television helps spark conversations, which will hopefully lead to good changes.

CW Releases New Black Lightning Art

The CW just released some new poster art for Black Lightning, which is quickly becoming the network’s latest superhero success.

The series joins a slew of superhero shows on the network, including Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, iZombie, and Riverdale. The posters feature a new look at Jefferson Pierce, played by Cress Williams, and his daughters, Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain).

While Akil and his team are tackling tough issues, the posters make it clear that Black Lightning is a family show first and foremost.

The next episode of Black Lightning will feature Anissa branching out and standing up against violence in her city as she begins her path towards becoming a superhero. But her journey isn’t going to easy as she faces numerous challenges along the way, including some resistant from her mother, Lynn, played by Christine Adams.

New episodes of Black Lightning air Tuesday nights on The CW.