Nafessa Williams as Anissa and China Anne McClain as Jennifer on "Black Lightning"

Wanna Know More About The CW’s Black Lightning? The Creators Gave ATX the Scoop.

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Nafessa Williams as Anissa and China Anne McClain as Jennifer on The CW’s “Black Lightning”

Black Lightning doesn’t come to The CW until next year, but creators Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil gave fans at the ATX Television Festival in Austin a little taste of what they can expect from the show.

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While there will definitely be a villain or two on the show (namely Tobias Whale, who was introduced in the very first Black Lightning comic), Akil emphasizes that Black Lightning is “a character-based family drama” and won’t have a villain-of-the-week feel to it.

He said to his Sunday panel, “It’s a character driven show. I don’t know if there’s going to be a fight every week. There’s certainly not going to be a villain of the week. I don’t want to do that. We really want to explore the characters, even the villains. I think one of the most interesting characters right now from a storytelling standpoint is Tobias. Because we’re not having him sort of twist his mustache. His hatred for himself and for others comes from a real place, so we want to know why he’s like that.”

Brock Akil explained that one of the reasons they wanted to write Black Lightning in the first place was to combat the negative images of black fatherhood that are consistently shown in the media. “That image of a father saving his daughters, protecting his family, protecting his school, protecting his community,” is how Akil explains the basis of the show. “It is happening, but it’s not the narrative [on most shows and movies].”

LGBTQIA representation is also something important to the Akils, and they confirmed that Anissa, who will become the superhero Thunder, will be a lesbian just like she is in the comics, and that there will be other queer representation on the show, too. Most importantly, they want to portray the LGBTQIA community like real people, not just as a “cause of the week.”

“You’ll definitely see that [LGBTQ] aspect of society,” Akil explained. “You know, I grew up, I had three uncles and … I loved Uncle Donald because he gave me dating advice and I was like five. But the other thing that I found fascinating about my Uncle Donald is he dressed up like a woman. And so I grew up around all of these men who dressed like women, so when I hear that, I don’t hear a cause. I hear my family.”

While the show won’t be an official part of The CW’s “Arrowverse” (despite being produced by Greg Berlanti), that doesn’t mean the Akils are ruling anything out. “The storytelling [on Black Lightning] is a little bit more political. It’s topical, and it’s a little grittier. … It doesn’t mean that down the road there won’t be visits,” Akil teased.

The more I hear about this show, the more excited I am. It can’t get here fast enough!

(via International Business Times, image: screencap)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.